Introduction: Mini Mason Jar Golf Course

About: Where there's a will, there's a way! Never give up, never give in...BE the good you want to see in the world. :)

So I had a crazy thought: Can I build a realistic-looking golf course -- that you can actually play! -- on the tops of mason jars!?

And the answer is: YES!!!

This super fun project can be used for many different sports, but today we are going to focus on GOLF. Why? My dad got me interested in golf when I was younger, and it brings back good memories -- plus, there's always a golf tournament somewhere! :)

Build one hole or 18. Make a driving range, mini putt putt, or even just a model for your visual enjoyment. Replicate your dream golf course on your bucket list, or simply do it for the fun of DIY. And there's no end to what you can store in your mason jars too: office supplies, school supplies, or that 3 o'clock pick-me-up. The sky's the limit with this super versatile project!

Step 1: What You'll Need

Since this type of project has never been done (or at least I couldn't find any tips online anywhere for how to proceed), I didn't know really what to expect as far as supplies go. However, now having finished this project, you will need:

  • Mason jars (or any kind of glass jar with a lid)
  • Scrap wood (1/4-3/8" thick, and as long as each hole is, mine was 3 mason jars long)
  • Blue, yellow, white, or red (for the flag on the pin, depending on its location on the green)
  • Toothpicks
  • Hot glue and gluesticks
  • Fast drying super glue, preferably with a fine tip (I used Gorilla Glue)
  • Spray glue (like the ones used for model train scenes)
  • Super fine grass (the kind used for model train scenes)
  • Fluffy moss (the kind from Hobby Lobby, not the stringy Dollar Tree kind)
  • Fine sand (I got mine from Dollar Tree)
  • Acrylic Paint (for sure in the colors white, tan/sand - or make your own, and different shades of green
  • Little white balls for golf balls (I used a pack of faux snow from Dollar Tree)
  • Oven Bake clay *with optional clay modeling tools
  • Jar filler (ie: candy, tees, golf balls, mini golf pencils, office supplies, school supplies, etc)
  • Jigsaw, scissors, needle-nosed pliers, wire cutters
  • Twigs, cut from nature (for making realistic looking trees)
  • OPTIONAL: thin silver wire (if you want to make baskets for a driving range)
  • OPTIONAL: Michaels had the perfect sized bag of metal clubs (there's only a driver and two wedges, but it works), or you can make your own
  • OPTIONAL: Gold trophies (I got mine from Dollar Tree)
  • OPTIONAL: scorecards, and any other embellishments you want!

Step 2: Seal the Lids

Seal the lids together by hot gluing the mason jar ring to the flat insert. This will keep them permanently together.

NOTE: You can use super glue if you aren't putting food items in the jar, but it may prove too chemical-y if used with food.

Step 3: Trace, Cut, Sand

Put the lids onto each jar and flip them lid-side-down onto the BACK of the scrap wood (with the "good" side of the wood facing down, away from the jars).

Trace around the lids. This will mark where to adhere each jar to later on. Then draw out a design of the hole that incorporates the tee box, fairway, and green, with room for any hazards you want to throw in for a challenge.

NOTE: Make sure to make some sort of "puzzle" like design so that the three jar lids remain SEPARATE jar lids. The puzzle like fit will keep them together when they need to work as one.

Cut this out with a "clean" wood blade in your jigsaw and sand the edges and top with 150 grit sandpaper. You can fill in the edges if you prefer them to look more smooth (as these will be seen, although painted, in the finished product), but I left mine "raw" looking. Adds character!

Step 4: Glue the Lid to the Wood

With more hot glue, I glued the top of the mason jar lid to the underside of the wood piece, matching up the lid with where I traced around it previously.

I double checked that the mason jars fit together nicely.

Step 5: Drill a Hole

I used a 3/8" drill bit that I taped at the thickness of my wood and drilled a hole on the green where I wanted the end to be. I stopped just before hitting the metal mason jar lid. Then I sanded the hole edges with 150 grit sandpaper.

Step 6: OPTIONAL: Paint a Mock Up

This step is optional, but it gave me an idea of where I wanted everything to go (the tee box, the green, the fairway, the rough, and the bunkers). I simply painted on the design I wanted with a rough layout. This design I will transfer onto the clay in a later step. However, you can feel free to "wing it" on the clay directly and avoid this step altogether.

Step 7: Transfer the Design & Cut Lines

I turned the wood pieces over and traced the cut lines on to a piece of computer paper.

Then I put the paper up against a light to transfer those cut lines to the FRONT of the paper. Then I proceeded to remark the design lines onto the front of the paper.

Lastly, I cut out the exact shape of the paper mock-up out of aluminum foil.

NOTE: Be careful not to crinkle the aluminum foil (as in crinkle it up into a ball, not get a crinkle in it).

Step 8: One More Time

You are now going to use your paper mock up to transfer the design one last time to the aluminum foil (with permanent marker), and cut out the three separate aluminum foil shapes on the cut lines.

NOTE: I found it easiest to cut out the hole in the paper, and mark that hole placement onto the aluminum foil, then cut out the paper into the three sections (cutting on the cut lines), and then transfer the design a section at a time, matching up the hole you cut out.

Step 9: Landscaping With Clay

Take chunks of oven bake clay and knead them in your hands until they are soft and smooth. Shape each section of your design by type. For example: thin out the clay to make the tee box area. This grass will be shorter than the fairway, which the fairway will have shorter grass than the rough, and then the green will have smoother grass again, etc. Use different thicknesses of clay to develop these different areas. I didn't have clay modeling tools, so I just used my fingers. I also indented the sand bunker sections so as to trap the ball a bit like a real bunker.

A Quick Story: I originally thought I would use the fine grass and other texturings, so I cut out the green's section from the clay (because the fine grass I had was too dark for the color I wanted the green to be, so I thought I could paint the green separate from the clay). In hindsight, DON'T DO THIS! Especially if you end up PAINTING your tee box, fairway, and green like I did (which I didn't think I would have to do that). Hence, the giant cutout in the clay. To recap: MAKE ALL YOUR CLAY ONE LEVEL, WITH ONLY A HOLE FOR THE BALL AT THE END.

Step 10: Bake the Clay & Secure

Bake the clay. Mine said to bake at 275 degrees for 15 minutes per every 1/4" thickness of clay. Does that mean if your clay is thinner than 1/4", you can bake it for less time? I thought so, but no. Nope. Nada. Bake for the 1/4" time or it will be under-baked.

After your clay is baked, let it cool down to the touch. Once you can handle it with your hands, peel away the aluminum foil. Then, hot glue the clay down to the wooden tops so as it dries it won't curl up (but it will remain flat, for the most part).

Step 11: Paint the Clay

Paint the different sections of your design onto the clay.

This is just a rough paint job so that when you add texturing, if you miss any spots, the underneath colors will match the texturing and it will look good.

Step 12: Add Texturing

This is both fun and tedious. I cannot tell you how many times I got upset when I attempted to brush away excess and ended up brushing away the texturing before it had time to dry! But it makes it worth it in the end.

NOTE 1: Here is where I found out I wasn't going to be able to add texturing to the fairway etc. I added the fine grass, and then quickly brushed it off (as you see in the third picture) because it was way too dark. Then I ended up using that grass for the rough along the edges instead.

First, you will spray the spray glue on the area you want to texture (who am I kidding? This will spray EVERYWHERE! But you can wipe off the unused glue on the areas you don't want covered before it dries). Then shake the texturing (whether grass or sand) FROM THE BAG (it's easier this way, trust me!) onto the area you want to cover. Let it sit for a minute or so. Then flip it over to gently tap off the excess. Then repeat this process as needed to build up the thickness or "fullness" of the texturing. Finally, lightly mist the spray glue over the completed texturing and allow it to dry for, my guess is a safe thirty minutes at least (although my bottle's instructions said nothing one way or the other).

NOTE 2: As you can see in the final picture on this step, wiping away the unused spray glue also wiped away the paint. If this happens to you, have no fear, repainting is no biggie! And, yes, the paint will stick over the dried spray glue.

Step 13: Make Trees

I cut some twiggy twigs (not just any twig will do, make sure it has lots of little twiggy branches). Then, I trimmed originally 8 (but only used 6) down to semi-different sizes to give it realism (these will be the trunks of the trees). I ended up using 2 tall round-poof trees, 2 shorter round-poof trees, and 2 taller organic-shaped trees.

NOTE: I originally added some smaller "branches" to the "trunks," but the moss I used for the leaves didn't really look good with the branches so I cut it back to using just the "trunks." But you can feel free to improvise and do it up how you like!

Simply, add hot glue around the top of the "trunks". Then, using a fluffed up (meaning, you shaped the chunk of moss into the shape you want) piece of moss, push it down centered over the "trunk." Use more hot glue and more moss to fill in "bald" spots, and trim the shape with scissors if needed.

Step 14: Add the Trees

Using super glue on the base of each tree (this Gorilla Glue holds itself up after just 10 seconds!), I attached the trees to the rough evenly alongside the fairway. The two organic-shaped trees were on the first piece that had the tee box. Then the shorter round-poof trees were next on the second piece, followed by the two larger round-poof trees.

Step 15: Painting -- Again

So my last idea (before giving up the idea of texturing the tee box, fairway, and green) was to use felt. But, the felt was just too thick and would look super unrealistic (after working so hard to make this project look realistic), so I opted to forgo the felt and just paint.

Using a finer tipped squared-off-tip brush, I "patted" the paint on to create a sort of grassy effect. Then I painted the tee box a different color from the fairway, and both a different color from the green.

Step 16: Making a Tee

So, I got this awesome pack of clubs from Michaels (didn't know that? It was hidden in the supplies step!)...but to use it requires the correct size of "ball." The faux snow from Dollar Tree has many different sized balls in it, so I picked out the ones that correlated best with my clubs, and used those to create the tee.

First, clip off the end of a toothpick. This will be the bottom of the tee. Then, using a small little ball of clay (roughly the same size as the "golf ball") and the end of the mini golf club, make an indent to resemble that of the head of the tee (the part that holds the ball still).

Bake this (I would suggest making MANY at once!) like you did before, and paint it white to resemble a tee.

I cut off the point end to make a flat side for adhering it with super glue to the tee box.

Step 17: Make the Pin

To make the pin, simply paint a toothpick white (or whatever colors resemble the look you're going for, or the golf course you're mimicking). Then, cut a piece of felt into a rectangle that's the width of the top third of your toothpick, and is long enough that when you roll it over on itself, there's still enough "flag" leftover.

Add some hot glue around the top of the toothpick, then roll the toothpick up in the flag like a burrito. Now, your pin is ready! Either glue it permanently to the back of the hole (like I did), or make an additional clay cup that the pin sits in the middle of to make it even more realistic.

NOTE 1: You can definitely use fabric and sew a little flag for even more realism.

NOTE 2: Do you know what the different colors of flags mean on the pins? A blue or yellow flag indicates that the pin is positioned (aka the hole is) at the back of the green -- thus, I used a blue one. A white flag indicates the hole is in the middle of the green. And a red flag indicates that the pin position is at the front of the green. This is useful in real golf for the golfer to see from afar how he/she may want to lay up the ball on the green. And, anyone who loves golf will enjoy your thoughtfulness in including this little detail.

Step 18: Fill Your Jars

It's finally time to fill your jars! I filled mine with CANDY! Because who doesn't love a little pick me up when the fuel tank starts running low around 3 p.m.!?

Step 19: OPTIONAL: Add a Bag Hook

I cut some wire, shaped it with a little hook on one end, and hot glued it to the side of the first piece (with the tee box), so the bag for the mini clubs would have a place to rest when you're playing golf.

Step 20: FINISHED!

Here are some glamor shots of this hole!

Make 8 more, 17 more, a driving range, or just leave it at one hole. The choice is yours.

I don't know about you, but where I live, EVERY SINGLE STORE IS SOLD OUT OF MASON JARS (I had to use the few I had on hand at home)!!! Say whattttt!?!?!?!?!? We literally went everywhere (even to neighboring cities) and NOBODY had so much as one mason jar (even thrift stores were sold out!). So, my dream of owning a full mini golf course has been shattered! :( But I plan to add on more as soon as possible...and you should too! Show your glamor shots of your course in the comments below!

Step 21: Playing the Course

So, you wonder, what's it like to play the course?

It's a little challenging -- but the best golf courses always are! I would say this hole is a Par 4. But if I got better, I'd say a Par 3 minimum. It'd be nice, also, to have a putter, but I'm just pretending that my driver doubles as a putter for now. The ball is lightweight, so it doesn't go super far (which is good for this type of application, so it's not headed into the next room with every swing!). The reward of that candy afterwards though is a score! Go a step beyond that and get yourself a trophy! Will someone dare to challenge your championship status!?

Another question you may be wondering: Anything I'd change?

I would probably only change the dropped down green, and make it all one level. Also, I'd definitely make more variations in the future (when mason jars return)! Like epoxy ones with water hazards, or mountainous landscaping, etc. That'd be awesome!

Step 22: Showcasing It!

Where will you showcase yours?

Ours will be by our computer in the office. But you could put yours anywhere mini golf courses are accepted! :)

Can't wait to see yours!

Mason Jar Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Mason Jar Speed Challenge