Inspired by upscale bowling and bar ping-pong, Matt Grech-Smith and Jeremy Simmonds had the idea to reinvent “crazy golf” (a UK term for mini golf) making it a fun, grown-up experience by setting up courses in an inside venue and pairing it with gourmet street food and cocktails.
In 2014, the two tested the idea with a temporary pop-up venue in an old London warehouse. With the website crashing and tickets selling out for five months, it was clear that “crazy golf” was a viral success. They opened the first permanent Swingers in London in 2016, and then a second London location in 2018.
Now they’re bringing Swingers to the States, with a third location set to open in Dupont Circle in June. The two-story, 20,000 square-feet location will replace Buffalo Billiards and the Front Page, two Dupont mainstays that closed in 2019 after unsuccessful attempts to renew their leases. Mini golf “is this activity that everyone has this nostalgic link to,” says Grech-Smith. “It’s really fun, and it’s quite accessible. You don’t have to wear special clothes. You can get a hole-in-one on your first go. And you don’t get sweaty while you’re playing.”
The space—only open to guests over the age of 21—is inspired by a 1920s English country golf club. Patrons will enter on the ground floor, where a library-themed bar will serve more than 30 different cocktails.
The downstairs floor is a huge open space with two nine-hole golf courses where “crazy golf” will happen. Each course is designed with different obstacles, like the swinging pendulum of a grandfather clock or a giant Ferris wheel.
Of course, a round of golf wouldn’t be complete without the “caddies” who will deliver cocktails straight to the course while people are playing. “They also give you tips and tricks on how to play,” says Grech-Smith. “So if you’re struggling to complete a hole, they’ll say, ‘Hey, why don’t you try tapping the ball in this direction, and this should do the trick for you.’”
Grech-Smith says they’ll be offering an array of locally sourced food options through their partnership with DC-based KNEAD Hospitality and Design, which will operate the restaurants Tu Taco, Kneadza Pizza, Mah-Ze-Dahr, and Lil’ Succotash inside of Swingers.
Will Washingtonians line up for this tipsy mini-golf concept? “We’re very conscious that we’re out-of-towners, so we’re not turning up and saying, ‘Hey, guys, this is how you go out,’” Grech-Smith says. “We’re saying, ‘You know, this is a concept that we’ve done two locations in London and we’re bringing some of that fun to DC.’”
Tickets are now available on their website and range from $19 to $24 a person.
Update: Construction of the space is finished and Swingers will officially open on June 18th. Here’s a first look at the space.