Adults-only Swingers Crazy Golf tees off in Navy Yard on Friday, March 10. Situated a block away from Nationals Park (1250 Half Street SE), the ridiculously large, 23,000-square-foot entertainment venue boasts three bars, three golf courses, four eateries, multiple lounges, a merchandise shop, and 3-D photo booth.
It’s the second D.C. location for the wacky, British-born brand that builds its 21-and-up bars around “crazy golf,” or the British term for miniature golf. A Dupont location opened in June 2021; there’s one more stateside location in New York City and two in London. Navy Yard’s Swingers takes its proximity to the water and the ballpark to heart, going for a British seaside resort-meets-sports pub.
“It’s still a very English or British feel to it throughout the venue but we’ve just drawn on those aspects of English life that reflect the sporting nature of the area and the [Anacostia] river,” Swingers co-founder Matt Grech-Smith tells Eater.
Nautical accents are sprinkled throughout. The ceiling of the first floor bar is tiled with 580 message-in-a-bottle-style vessels, each embossed with the Swingers’ “S.” Nautical rope hangs from the booths at the upstairs Boathouse Bar, which is encircled with porthole-style mirrors.
On the sporty side, a full-blown English pub dubbed “The Swingers Arms” sits on the top level. The structure opens up to a faux patio area lined with flower boxes and golf-side seating.
“We thought, ‘how can we cater to that sports bar demand but do it in our own Swingers way,’” Grech-Smith explains.
Televisions are scattered throughout but Swingers wants customers to know it’s not a dedicated sports bar. If there’s a big game on, the TVs will probably be tuned in, but it’s not the focus.
Navy Yard’s three golf courses are pure Instagram bait. “The Carousel,” “The Spinner,” and “The Meteorite” are named after British funfair rides and decked out with mini moving versions of their namesakes. One nine-hole round costs $24, but customers don’t have to play in order to enter.
What started as a pop-up out of a London warehouse in 2014 turned into a permanent venue in that city in 2016. At the booming brand’s five locations, bars, street food stalls, and seating areas are built around nine-hole challenges with moving contraptions like ferris wheels and clock towers. Staff weave through the moving, light-up courses on astroturf, offering tips and taking drink orders. Bars juxtapose a 1920s golf club aesthetic with a neon-lit atmosphere.
For food, Swingers locations partner with local vendors. Navy Yard sticks with D.C.-based restaurant group Knead Hospitality and its same four food stalls found in Dupont: Kneadza, tuTaco, Lil’ Succotash, and Mah-Ze-Dahr.
“There’s something about the formula of having sandwiches, pizzas, tacos, and then something sweet that is the perfect combination,” says Grech-Smith.
The group is cooking up some Navy Yard-specific offerings. There’s “The Ballpark” pizza (red sauce, mozzarella, roasted sausage and peppers, sweet onions), as well as classically-topped tater tot nachos (shredded beef, sour cream, scallions, jalapenos, cheddar cheese, pickled onions). Succotash’s half-smoke wrapped in bacon and paired with kimchi slaw and spicy mayo offers a nontraditional spin on the D.C. favorite.
Drink diversions from Dupont include a “Sweet Tee” starring black tea infused vodka and “Passion for Life” with cognac, elderflower liqueur, and passion fruit puree. A new spirit-free option, “Ginger Ninja,” (it rhymes if you say it with a British accent), is made up of Seedlip Spice 94, Heineken 0.0 beer, Fever-Tree ginger beer, ginger syrup, and lemon juice. There’s also an ever-popular espresso martini to keep golfers going.
The Southeast neighborhood’s nightlife game is exploding as of late. Duke’s Grocery, which also swings British, just debuted its fourth area location with its biggest bar yet across the street; rooftop hangout Silver Social opened across from the ballpark in the fall; and Florida-themed bar Royal Sands brought the area a waterless pool party at the end of 2022.
Navy Yard’s Swingers is open Wednesday and Thursday 4:30 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday noon to 2 a.m., and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. A patio will open during the warmer months.