If any portion of your daily commute is spent inching along the Fremont Bridge, the first hole at the new mini-golf bar Birdie Time Pub could induce some destructive urges. With a miniature version of Portland's most frequently congested span standing between you and the cup, you might feel a sudden impulse to use your putter to take out some symbolic aggression on the city's growing traffic nightmare—especially if the ball ricochets off one of the tiny cars parked on the structure and comes rolling back toward you.
Don't give in. Breathe, sip your Chuckanut Vienna Lager and try again. Remember, this is supposed to be fun.
Open in a stretch of bar-barren blocks in industrial Buckman, Birdie Time is basically a boutique take on family fun centers like Dave and Buster's or Big Al's—only with much better beer, and the focus is on golf.
The nine-hole course is the centerpiece, but it's not the only feature vying for your attention. The walls of the former stamping warehouse are splashed with bright murals the palette of a Lisa Frank binder. There are 15 TV screens tuned to everything from pro football to college soccer, a driving range simulator available to rent for $40 an hour, and a skee-golf game that's free to play. With 35 handles, some devoted to cider, wine, kombucha and a cocktail spritz, Birdie Time boasts a bigger tap list than Bailey's Taproom. It's not as finely curated, but that's understandable—this is a mini-golf pub, not a beer geek mecca.
A round of putt-putt is a mere $6. Founder Eric Syverson designed the course and its features, which include a goal-tending Sasquatch, strategically placed kegs, and wood carvings of regional sports team logos. Three holes begin with spinning wheels that, depending on where they land, could affect your score or technique. You might end up rolling the ball like you're bowling (helpful!) or using a baseball bat to try to drive it home (hard!).
Every hole at Birdie Time is just easy enough to ward off any urge to quit. Ultimately, it feels like existing in a giant cartoon for about an hour or so—an absurdist escape all of us could use, especially after a day in Portland traffic.
DRINK: Birdie Time Pub, 925 SE Main St., 503-966-1212, birdietimepub.com. Noon-midnight Monday-Friday, 10 am-midnight Saturday-Sunday.