Last night, at the media preview for Swingers Navy Yard, I played the clubbiest mini-golf of my life. The beats were pounding. Sharp-dressed bros circled the green like ants swarming a hill. I drank a spicy margarita, ate pizza and quesadillas and a half-smoke and a mini-chicken sandwich. I gawked at the LED-lit kinetic golf obstacles: the loop-de-loops, the carousel, the Ferris wheels and spinners. I felt both old and young. I danced.
“Crazy golf,” I learned, is the British term for mini-golf, and Swingers is an upscale British crazy-golf chain. Maybe you’ve already been to its Dupont Circle location, but if not, you’ll have another bite at the apple: The new Navy Yard outpost opens tonight, just a hop and a skip from Nats Park. This Swingers—which for some reason has a 1920s British seaside-resort theme—will offer three nine-hole crazy-golf courses, multiple bars, and “street food” from Kneadza, tuTaco, Lil’ Succotash, and Mah-Ze-Dahr. It’s sort of fun, it’s pretty expensive, and the decor—fake flowers; strings of Edison bulbs; wall paint in salmon pink, turf green, and marine blue—makes the whole thing look like it exists inside an iPhone.
Would I return to Swingers under ordinary circumstances, not for a free preview event that I was obligated to attend for work? I’m not sure. And maybe you’re asking a similar question for yourself. If that’s the case, I have created what I am calling a “deconstructed flowchart”—deconstructed because I lack the InDesign skills to make an actual flowchart. Forgive me, and I hope this helps.
Are you over 21?
- No. Sorry, you’re not invited to Swingers.
- Yes. Bring your ID—the Swingers rent-a-cops don’t play.
Are you offended by the phrase “competitive socializing”?
- Yes. Be forewarned: the Swingers promotional materials use this language.
- No. You’re a monster, but fine.
Do you like parking in Navy Yard?
- Yes. For hard mode, come during a Nats game.
- No. There’s plenty of mini-golf in the suburbs.
- I took the train. Good for you, you’re virtuous. Buy yourself an extra drink.
Are you interested in paying $24 per person for nine holes of mini-golf? (For reference, this took my companion and me approximately 20 minutes to complete.)
- No. I don’t blame you. Don’t go to Swingers.
- Yes. Light your money on fire, what do I care.
As you golf, do you prefer to dance or focus?
- Dance. Go to Swingers.
- Focus. Live a little. Do you think you’re Tiger Woods?
Do you like getting holes in one?
- Yes. The terrain at Swingers is quite even and predictable, which I’m told makes things more straightforward.
- No. Swingers still might be for you. I got none.
Do you generally need seven or more putts per hole?
- Yes. That’s a bummer, because Swingers caps you at six.
- No. Proceed to Swingers.
Do you feel vague social pressure to do what celebrities do?
- Yes. You’ll feel right at home at Swingers, with its wall of photoshopped images of our beloved icons—Drake, Chalamet, Streep, Tom Hanks—smiling and putting away.
- No. Well, none of these celebs are actually golfing, for what it’s worth.
Do you need your mini-golf establishments to have a coherent theme?
- No. Phew, because Swingers does not resemble a 1920s British seaside resort in literally any respect.
- Yes. Have you tried Monster Mini-Golf in Gaithersburg?
Do you prefer to be able to hear your companion(s)?
- Yes. Try the library.
- No. That’s perfect, because the Swingers DJ is doing his loudest, clubbiest best.
Are you a gourmand?
- No. Well, there’s pizza and burgers and tacos.
- Yes. The pizza and burgers and tacos include such garnishes as “kimchi slaw” and “hot honey,” so you could definitely do worse.
Do you like good drinks?
- Yes. Order the spicy margarita—which happens to be the most Art Deco looking thing at Swingers, despite the 1920s theme.
- No. Order the paloma. It’s weak and sweet.
Do you still Instagram pics of yourself going out?
- Yes. Good for you, Swingers is nothing but photo ops.
- No. I think you’re going to be pretty confused by Swingers.
Will you do anything once?
- Yes. Me too, and I have now been to Swingers.
- No. Well, Drake probably would, but I guess you’re immune to that kind of pressure.