Birmingham’s biggest shopping attraction could soon have a new nickname – the Bullring Putting Centre.
The unit which used to house the fashion store Forever 21 inside the Bullring has now been repurposed as an indoor, 36-hole mini golf amenity and is open seven days a week from May 31, 2021.
Its backers hope shoppers will go crazy for the chance to roll balls into holes at Treetop Adventure Golf which bills itself as ‘mini golf, big adventure’.
Complete with a pair of 18-hole courses armed with copious visual and aural special effects, it’s unlike anything the giant shopping centre has seen before as you can see in our sneak-peek video above.
After losing the American retailers Forever 21 and Gap last year as well as the four-floor Debenhams only on May 15 (after John Lewis had already left Grand Centr al), the owners of Bullring will be hoping that this £2.5 million attempt to repurpose the building will be one way of keeping the centre fresh.
Bullring first opened on September 4, 2003 and, with its 18th birthday looming in just three months’ time, all eyes will be on Treetop to see if it can pave the way for repurposing 21st century shopping.
But whatever happens, its unlikely to become quite as diverse as Milton Keynes’ Xscape which opened in 2000 – as well as a giant cinema, shops, bars and restaurants it also has a casino, Hollywood Bowl, I-Fly and giant Snozone which claims to be ‘Europe’s largest indoor real snow resort’.
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Treetop Aventure Golf comes with two, 18-hole courses – Tropical Trail and Ancient Explorer.
You can pay to go round one course ready to come back another day.
Or you can book to play both courses on the same visit. Prices below.
To help you to relax, there’s a central Market featuring the Thirsty Toucan bar, Jungle Buzz Cafe and Pizza Cabana which has a range of tasty, handmade options including Wham Bam Ham and vegan and gluten-free options.
Pizza prices range from £4.75 to £6.50, with sample drinks prices including cocktails from £7.50, mocktails from £4.50 as well as £4.95 for a selection of hand-brewed beers by Birmingham Brewery Co.
Fun names around the course include Eggbaston (Twinned with Squawk City) and The Pitz Bug Hotel.
If you have a bag with you, there’s a range of lockers where you can tuck it away.
James Dannatt, head of marketing at Treetop Adventure Golf said: “We want to help people escape the everyday when they visit us. So, even if faraway trips are off the cards for now, you can still escape to somewhere tropical at Treetop.”
Playing Treetop Adventure Golf is so simple all ages can have a go.
Each hole has been designed to play tricks on your mind – so you might end up taking more shots than you imagine.
Or you might even strike lucky and get a hole in one.
If a particular hole looks set to drive you mad, don’t worry.
The official advice from the super-friendly staff is take no more than six shots per hole – and, if you fail to finish properly, to give yourself a score of seven.
Each team of up to four people gets a scorecard and a small pencil with which to record everyone’s scores from Competitive Dad right down to Junior Woods.
Mini golf is more fun the more you are with like-minded people.
So whether you take your children, a first date or a group of friends after work, there’s bound to be a new way of playing every time you go.
It’s worth going in to see if you can reimagine the space as Forever 21 – a store which had a brilliant level of lighting.
Now the world is much darker and populated by special effects, from waterfalls and dry ice to talking toucans heckling your bad swing.
But all of the holes are carefully numbered and each course is one-way – perfect for social distancing.
The Fabulous Sacred Mask might pay you a compliment though – and do look out for a former movie legend flamingo turned ghost, Gloria Longneck.
Once you have played your 18 holes, there’s the 19th hole.
Here you get one shot at getting your ball into the final, final hole.
Sink your putt here and you will get a free round another time so that you can come back and do it all over again.
Because the attraction is mimicking life in a fantastical jungle, there is no daylight – so you lose all sense of what time of day it is or what the weather is doing outside. Great on a wet, horrible day – or even on a scorcher if you want to keep cool!
If you have impaired vision, ask one of your fellow players to go ahead of you on some of the holes.
That’s because some have shallow ‘bunkers’ which are a different shade of green to the main course and you might not see them.
If you don’t concentrate on where you are going in the half-light you can find yourself going down an inch or two when you might not be expecting it.
An outdoor alternative in daylight would be the Golden Putter in Cannon Hill Park – for the other extreme, try the much more urban indoor experience of Ghetto Golf in Digbeth.
Allow time to leave
Parking at the Bullring is not cheap but least you don’t have to pay upfront and you can pay when you leave if you stay longer than expected.
Even so, beware of running over your time because of slower people in front of you on the course.
Once we’d finished playing, we walked all the way down the exit stairs (through what seemed to be the former Borders Bookshop) and came out into the night air opposite Spiceal Street’s Chaophraya Thai restaurant.
Because the stores had now closed and we couldn’t see them to remember that, we made the mistake of walking up the hill past Lord Nelson’s statue to return to the Bullring car park.
The ‘Five Guys’ doors here were closed, so we then went all the way back down towards St Martin in the Bullring Church and re-entered the shopping centre via the Burger King / Costa Coffee entrance.
After walking down two flights of steps to the underground car park, we found all of the Bullring car park machines out of order.
So I went back up a floor, paid there, and ran back down the stairs to the lowest level.
Luckily, we did not go over another hour – otherwise a three-hour £8.50 stay would have gone up to £10.
Other time bands are £3.50 for up to one hour, £5.50 for up to two hours, £12 for up to six hours, £15 for eight hours or £25 for more than eight hours.
Where is it?
Treetop Adventure Golf, Bullring, Lower Mall, Bullring & Grand Central, Birmingham B5 4BA.
Opening times: Monday to Wednesday, 11am-10pm; Thursday and Friday 11am-11pm; Saturday 10am-11pm and Sunday 10am-10pm. Opening times re Bank Holidays, school holidays and festive periods may vary.