Alligators, Windmills, and One Small Ball

Alligators, Windmills, and One Small Ball

September 21, 2019

Golf is the grown-up sport where you use a skinny iron stick, or “club,” to hit a very small ball over and over until it goes into a very small hole. The 18 holes are spread out across giant fields of grass, so it takes hours to finish a game. Thankfully, someone invented “miniature golf,” where the holes are much closer to each other — and the ball rolls through fun buildings and toys. Mini golf players have to “putt,” or hit, the little ball through waterwheels, windmills, and fake animals with their jaws wide open. Today is Miniature Golf Day, so let’s celebrate — and let’s hope no real gators show up.

Wee ones: If you putt the ball through the alligator’s mouth, then around the castle, then over the bridge, then through the windmill, how many obstacles have you passed?

Little kids: If the spinning windmill blocks every 4th player’s ball starting with the 4th, who’s the next player to get blocked?  Bonus: If you’ve played all 18 holes except the alligator at the end, how many holes have you played?

Big kids: If you get through the windmill on just 2 strokes, but then take 4 putts for the alligator and for each of the next 4 animals, how many strokes is that so far?  Bonus: If you have a final score of 72 after 18 holes, how many strokes did you take per hole (on average)?

The sky’s the limit: If you score a “hole in one” (get the ball into the hole on 1 putt) on every 3rd hole starting with the 3rd, and your friend gets a hole in one on every 5th hole starting with the 5th, on how many of the 18 holes does nobody get a hole in one?




Wee ones: 4 obstacles.

Little kids: The 8th player.  Bonus: 17 holes.

Big kids: 22 strokes.  Bonus: 4 strokes per hole.

The sky’s the limit: 10 holes.  You will score on 6 holes: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18.  Your friend will score on 3 holes: 5, 10 and 15. But you already counted hole #15 in your set. So that makes just 8 holes total, leaving 10 holes with no hole in one.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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