A recent conversation about dating activities raised the following question: Why is bowling more popular than miniature golf for a date? (I don’t know this is true, but based on the relative number of bowling alleys versus mini golf courses in my region, it seems to be.) The obvious answer? Bowling alleys typically serve booze, while mini golf courses don’t.
But that answer raises a different question: Why don’t mini golf courses serve booze? At first, I figured the answer had something to do with geography. A bowling alley can have one bar convenient to all the alleys, and players can go grab drinks during other players’ turns. But given the circuitous nature of mini golf courses, mini golf players would have to walk long and winding paths to and from a single bar.
Still, it seems like there could be some kind of solution. Have employees wander around with trays of food and drink, like at a baseball stadium. Or place small bars in strategic locations between holes (say, between hole 8 and hole 13, which happen to be contiguous in your mini golf course). If mixed drinks take too long to prepare, serve beer and wine only.
A better explanation, I think, is provided by inter-customer externalities. Drunken players tend to take longer to finish, thereby delaying other customers. In a bowling alley, this effect is very limited – you usually only get ten frames, you only get two shots per frame, and you can only delay people whose games have not yet begun. But in a mini golf course, slow play can affect every player behind you on the course. And while there is allegedly some limitation on the number of swings (6 swings max, I believe), players sometimes flout this rule, and in any case 6 swings can take twice as long as 3 (the usual par).
With most inter-customer externalities, the natural solution is to “tax” the players who create it. This could be accomplished by simply charging more per drink. But if the required tax is especially large – as it might be in this case, given how many other players are affected by any one player’s slowness – then the total price could be higher than most players are willing to pay. And with few enough buyers, it’s just not worthwhile to incur the fixed costs of setting up bars, acquiring liquor licenses, and so on. Boozehounds will just have to wait ’til the nineteenth hole.