Brixton in south London is famous for many things — the social unrest of the 1980s, a bohemian arts community, some of the most vibrant markets in the capital, and being the birthplace of David Bowie. Golf does not feature highly on that list.

Nonetheless, I find myself standing with club in hand and ball at feet preparing to embark on nine challenging holes in SW9.

I'm at The Duke of Edinburgh, a pub on a largely residential street, five minutes from Brixton tube with one of the biggest gardens in the area. While this space can be rammed with hundreds of people in the summer, it is less popular in the winter months.

That's why the marquee used for the Rugby World Cup has been retained and filled with nine holes that give players the impression they are plotting their way around a miniature course in Honolulu.

The Duke's general manager Stevie Mulgrave (pictured, below) explains: "We needed to put on something quirky. People like an activity when they go to the pub these days.



"It's not good enough just to open the doors any more. People want to try different things or they will get bored and try something else."

Par for the course

The golf fits with the pub's wider ethos of continually introducing new ideas. It recently revamped its menu by linking with The Cornwall Project, which provides fine food from the county to the capital.

And as Stevie and I embark on a head-to-head challenge to rival the classic Ryder Cup singles showdowns, he points out the tiki huts that are being constructed by an outside bar and barbecue for customers to get cosy in this summer.

After one hole I've decided this is an easy game. A gentle opener through a tunnel with a break to the right and I celebrate smugly as my little pink ball drops in the cup for a hole in one. Then, irritatingly, Stevie does exactly the same. He's played this before...

I pick up two shots at the second after Stevie blots his card with a four. This is starting to look like a walk that for once won't be ruined by the golf.



So who actually plays this, is it amateur golfers or locals at the pub?

The answer is a great variety of people. In week one 200 people booked to play. This virtually doubled in the second week. And with green fees of £7.50 per person, a percentage of which is shared with the course owners Plonk Golf, it is proving to be a very useful income stream.

"We thought people in the pub would play but it is more pre-booking — you can pay online and book a tee time or pay at the pub," says Stevie.

"People who haven't been near this bar before are coming through to play and realising that this is a nice pub, and then they come back just for that.

"It's about bringing more people to the bar, driving food and drink sales and showing that we have a massive garden for the summer."

It has also generated much discussion and sharing of photos on social media as well as wider press interest.

Back to the game. The third is a disaster for me as a tyre in the middle of the green proves a tricky obstacle. It's nip and tuck over the middle section of the course but I have a comfortable four-shot lead as we reach the final stretch.

When we play pre-lunch on a Friday we have the course to ourselves but at peak times Plonk provides a member of staff. Even if there is a slight wait on tees, customers are generally happy to take the chance to have a drink and relax.

The deal with Plonk was initially done on a trial basis but having proved successful the course is likely to stay until the May Bank Holiday. A scaled-down version could remain over the summer months.



"We didn't think it would be as popular as it has been," says Stevie, making a handy three at the seventh as I score a disastrous five. "Now we are seeing the bookings coming in we are thinking 'what should we do next?' Leagues might work because some people are really into it. Some go around different courses to do this."

It was in fact a miniature golf expert on Twitter who alerted me to the existence of The Duke's course in the first place.

He would probably regret that if he witnessed my capitulation over the closing holes.

I head to the 19th, or rather the 10th, for a consoling steak and glass of Merlot.