Minigolf is the star in this classic Simpsons episode

Simpsons, minigolf, dead putters society
Bart feels the pressure of competitive minigolf in this classic episode

This might be ancient news to some, but we’ve only just stumbled across this episode of The Simpsons from 1990 which revolves around minigolf. So we’re excited about it and flapping our arms around like chickens. If you’ve seen it before, you can re-live the yellow putting fun with the two clips we’ve posted below. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat.

Simpsons writer Jeff Martin was an experienced miniature golfer and based much of the golf-related scenes in the script on his own experiences. This episode (Season 2 episode 6) is titled Dead Putting Society and tells the story of Homer’s plan to humiliate Ned Flanders by setting their two sons against each other in a minigolf competition. The loser’s father has to mow his front lawn dressed in his wife’s Sunday dress. But Bart and Todd turn out to be equally matched, with unexpected results for the two feuding dads.

Lisa helps to train Bart for the showdown with some mystical advice that seems to work, and Bart becomes a putting prodigy. Homer tries to help too, telling Bart that the club is to the golfer what the violin is to the ‘violin guy’.

For this episode, the animators went on a field trip to a local miniature golf course to study the mechanics of a golf club swing. Moore commented that the reason for this was that much of the humour in the series comes from making the scenery look lifelike; “The realism of the background serves as the straight man for the absurd situations.”

So, are you a father with a young son, feuding with an annoying religious neighbour who also has a young son? Then you’re reading the right blog post! Settle it once and for all with a minigolf showdown. And get your wife’s Sunday dress ready, because you’ll probably be needing it.

For all your minigolf-based neighbour feuds, hire the equipment from Putterfingers!

Watch a couple of clips from the Dead Putting Society episode below 🙂

 

Minigolf is booming in North Korea!

Nuke-happy leader gifts minigolf course to inexplicably cheerful populace

General Kim Jong-Il of the People’s Republic of North Korea is said to have played the inaugural round at Pyongyang’s golf course in 1987 with a score of 34 strokes, including 5 holes-in-one. The feat was witnessed by 17 bodyguards, a handful of officials and no-one else, so it is of course true. Now his son Kim Jong-Un, no doubt also capable of smashing the best PGA score of all time by 25 strokes before breakfast, has further enhanced the fun-loving image of North Korea by revamping the minigolf course situated next to the golf course. Thanks to the generosity of the little man who runs the country with an iron haircut, grateful North Koreans have flocked to the glorious facility to unwind after a hard day’s applauding wildly. Here they are enjoying the minigolf course:
Minigolf Pyongyang North Korea Kim Jong-Un
Photo: Dylan Harris from Lupine Travel
In a cheeky attempt to upstage this enviable fun palace, soldiers of the free world maintain a golf course with a single hole in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. It is sited in Camp Bonifas, named after a United Nations soldier who was murdered with an axe by angry Norks in a dispute over pruning a poplar tree. Often called the world’s most dangerous golf hole, it is lined with live land mines and it is one place where you don’t go looking for your ball if it goes out of bounds. It’s listed in our blog post The World’s Most Dangerous Golf Courses. If you really wanted to, you could try to recreate the atmosphere there by using our exploding golf balls!
North Korea golf DMZ
The course is between two countries who hate each other and is surrounded by landmines.
North Korea crazy golf, mini golf, minigolf, Pyongyang minigolf
The red velvet-covered bench is where the Leader sat as he directed construction. Photo: Dylan Harris from Lupine Travel
Dylan Harris, the man behind the unusual-location company Lupine Travel, had the awesome opportunity to play the inaugural Pyongyang Minigolf Open Tournament, a precursor to the equally surreal DPRK Amateur Golf Open Competition. Thanks to him for most of the photos in this post. Here he snapped a Western competitor playing a hole under the watchful eye of one of the course staff.
Minigolf in North Korea
Photo: Dylan Harris from Lupine Travel
We’ll never use the words ‘adventure golf’ in quite the same way again after hearing about this trip!

Low bounce balls and why we use them

Low bounce balls

There’s always one. Sooner or later someone rocks up on the minigolf course and inexplicably feels the need to wallop a minigolf ball as hard as they can with their putter, just to see how far it will go.
This is a bad idea because a) it doesn’t do much for safety and b) minigolf is a game of precise control and finesse that takes place in the confined area of the putting green.
But there will always be excitable individuals who attempt to make what they fondly hope will be 200 yard drives off the tee for no reason other than to have fun. With a full-bounce ball this will not end well – our budding Rory McIlroy will probably never see the ball again, and if they do it will be as they try to retrieve it from an old lady’s hat, a pond, or from behind a pane of freshly-shattered glass.
These people are the reason we provide special low bounce balls with our minigolf kits. They bounce perfectly well off the foam bumpers and obstacles, but just enough to make for an enjoyable game. When sensible, non-maniac players have got used to the speed of the low bounce balls on our putting surface, they can make controlled shots and enjoy the game.
Low bounce balls
Now you’re probably thinking, ‘Is this a low bounce ball or a regular ball?’
Want to try a 200 yard drive?
Make my day, punk!
Let’s look at how golf balls have evolved to get bouncier, just so we can say that our low-bounce balls deliberately reverse hundreds of years of history.
The first golf balls were made of wood. They were terrible, but nobody knew it yet because modern golf ball manufacturing techniques hadn’t been invented yet and they didn’t know any better.
The next generation of ball (17th century) was a stitched leather case stuffed with boiled feathers. They must have resembled a little hacky sack and were also rubbish. Notwithstanding, the game remained popular.
A breakthrough came in 1850 with the solid gutta percha ball, and then – finally – rubber-cored balls appeared on the scene in about 1900. The Open Championship winner of 1902 used a rubber-cored ball and that pretty sealed it as the standard ball from then on.
Modern balls consist of a liquid or solid rubber core wound with highly elastic rubber thread and encased in a dimpled, injection-moulded plastic cover. That makes them super bouncy, unlike our low bounce balls which, as the name suggests, have as much bounce in them as a bog-snorkeler’s hair.
What's inside a golf ball
Here’s a video of someone sawing various types of golf ball in half, just to see what’s inside, basically. We applaud this endeavour because it’s weird and interesting.
 And have you seen the other balls we sell? Airflow balls, foam practice balls, lake balls, floating balls, flashing balls, exploding balls (honestly!), novelty balls and more. Check them out here!

How to win at minigolf: tips and techniques

Win win win with these minigolf tips!

How to win at minigolf and crazy golf
This ball is going in the cup. I will win. I cannot be beaten. You’ll never take me alive, mwahahahaha etc.

There comes a point in every minigolfer’s life when whacking the ball around and hoping for the best is no longer enough. As you’re lining up a shot it suddenly enters your head that luck has very little part in this. You realise that everything can be controlled: stance, eyeline, ball speed, angle and bounce. You start to think technically and plan your ball’s path to the cup as carefully as a pilot flying a plane in to land. This moment of revelation is when the sport first hooks you, and before you know it the last thing you think of before falling asleep is holing out with a magnificent, perfectly-weighted bank shot for a round of 23. It’s usually around the time you buy your own putter and start spending a lot of time in Whitby.

You have two choices at this point: seek professional help, or improve your game to make your dreams a reality. Possibly both, but we’re interested in the second bit: improving your game. We’ve gathered together a smorgasbord of tips for the aspiring minigolfer, with a view to knocking your score card into shape and starting to win. So here we go.

Get a putter that fits you.

The top of a correctly-sized putter should reach to your belt, and your hands should be in the middle of the grip. This will help you to get a comfortable and repeatable stance. Putterfingers stock a range of sizes for adults and children.

 

putter size adult children
Get the right tool for the job

Walk the course before you start and take notes.

Top players have notebooks in which they record the details of every hole and their strategy for playing it. So make a habit of this when practicing on unfamiliar courses, and before tournaments. Walk each hole and note any obstacles, imperfections in the surface, cracked edges, and any other oddities that could affect the ball. Take note of water features and variations in elevation that will affect the ball’s trajectory. If it’s allowed, play some test strokes to gauge the speed of the surface.

Ball speed is everything.

Train yourself to hit the ball with a precisely measured amount of force. On a straight and level green, practice putting to a marked point four feet away until the ball stops on or very near it every time. Move up to six, eight and ten-foot putts until you can place the ball on a sixpence at a variety of ranges. Master this before experimenting with how balls break on curvy surfaces at different speeds – the faster, the less break. As a rule of thumb, though, it’s better to hit a ball a bit too hard than too tentatively and weakly, because the priority is to get close to the hole with your tee shot and the ball can bounce back towards the hole from the walls. And weak shots will deviate more on ramps and curves, which can take you towards hazards and cost you shots. Be positive and firm, but get the ball speed right.

How to win at crazy golf
Ball speed control will lead to better scores

Watch your opponents’ shots. Then win.

Unless you’re up first, you can glean valuable information on bounce strength, angles and speed from watching your opponents play their shots. This can help you to make adjustments – or copy what they did if it went well! Watching how the ball behaves when close to the hole can help you to plan your shot with precision.

Focus on form and technique, not scores.

If you are tied for the lead and terrified of dropping a shot, or in any other pressure situation in minigolf, it won’t help you to worry and stress about missing. Why? Because it’s a sure-fire way to make you miss!

If you have practised enough, you will know how to strike a ball towards a hole. Any mental distractions from this ‘muscle memory’ skill will make you change something in an attempt to hit an ‘extra-good’ putt. So tune out everything including the score and your opponents, and trust your putting technique, with nothing but the present shot in mind. Some players say ‘practice as if you were competing, and compete as if you were practicing’.

How to win at crazy golf
Don’t let the occasion get to you at tournaments. Play as if you were practicing. Yeah, it’s easier said than done – but it works!

Win with positive self-talk.

Don’t think about missing. Only think about sinking the ball. In fact, don’t think at all. Just focus, visualise the ball falling into the cup, and trust your subconscious mind to execute the shot perfectly (this comes after a lot of practice). See yourself as already having reached your goal, even if it sounds ridiculous to your conscious mind, because your subconscious will eventually believe it. Maybe something like ‘I am British minigolf champion. I score really low every time I play because I have a knack for finding the right ball path. I’m just an awesome shot. I’m fully prepared and mentally calm. It’s normal for me to win. I shoot more aces than anybody else’, etc.

To inspire you, here’s an excellent little video telling the story of a perfect 18 at Putt-Putt scored in 2011 in America. Now that was a win!

8 reasons to hire portable minigolf from Putterfingers

1. It’s portable

A complete Putterfingers crazy golf course fits into the back of an average family car, so you can drive it wherever you want to set up. No power supply is required, so in theory you could set it up on top of Ben Nevis, although obviously that would be mad. Still, it’s not called crazy golf for nothing.

Our courses are best suited to any reasonably level indoor or outdoor surface, anywhere you choose.

Portable crazy golf hire

2. Easy Assembly

No bulky wooden or metal frames to lay down. Our interlocking 1m x 1m astro grass tiles form the playing surface. Transform your garden, indoor room, office or event venue into a crazy golf course in 30 minutes!

portable crazy golf putting surface

3. Tricky Obstacles

Think our obstacles look innocent? Heh heh. It takes a steady hand to tackle the curves of the Volcano and just the right amount of speed on the ball to negotiate the twists of the Acapulco. They can challenge all ages and experience levels of minigolfer.

crazy golf obstacles

4. Hire a Course by Post

You don’t have to be beside the seaside to enjoy our crazy golf!  Our portable crazy golf hire transports easily via courier to your chosen venue so that you can enjoy for as long as you like -a one day event, a weekend hire or long term if you require.

Portable minigolf delivery

5. Any Weather (even all round British weather!)

Not just for outside, the portable crazy golf course is rubber backed and won’t mark floors indoors.  Have you an unused space – unutilised sports court, school assembly hall, hotel atrium, roof top terrace, empty office? For outdoors, rain doesn’t stop play because the tiles drain through the holes in the bottom!

portable Minigolf Putting surface

 

7. Modular Flexibility

Play Tetris with minigolf tiles! The modular nature of our courses means you can build each hole the way you want, to suit the venue and floor space available. Whether it’s 4 holes or 9 holes, the flexibility means they can fit almost any space!

Portable crazy golf course

8. Nice people to deal with!!

We always have availability, the team at Putterfingers are friendly and efficient, we strongly believe in our concept – so why not let us help you with something different at your event this year?

View our customer testimonials and see for yourself!

Crazy golf hire delivery
Putterfingers at Facebook’s London headquarters

Meet the Gottfrieds: the nation’s favourite putter nutters

Couple play on over 700 crazy golf courses

The couple who played on over 700 crazy golf courses ??“It's about 50/50 about who comes first”

Posted by BBC Radio 5 live on Monday, July 10, 2017

If you haven’t heard about Richard and Emily Gottfried, they are the charmingly eccentric (but otherwise normal) couple who have made it their life’s mission to play every single crazy golf course in the country. Their Crazy World of Minigolf tour started in 2006 and is showing no signs of slowing down. With new courses opening all the time and being reported on this blog and elsewhere, it’s clear that their task is never-ending. To date the Gottfrieds have played 740 crazy golf courses in the UK and quite a lot abroad too. Both are tournament winners with a swelling trophy cabinet – which includes a Putterfingers mug! Richard blogged about that in 2012.

Minigolfers the Gottfrieds
Minigolf makes them happy – or maybe they are happy anyway and that’s why they play minigolf. Either way they are winners.

 

The past week has been a media extravaganza for the putting-mad couple, with radio and TV interviews, newspaper articles and social media exposure. So we’re adding to the buzz by dedicating this week’s blog to Richard and Emily’s various media appearances in the last week or so. What a week it’s been!

BBC Radio 5 Live’s segment on Richard and Emily is at the top of this post. You can hear Richard tell the story of how the Crazy World of Minigolf Tour got started and ‘kind of steamrolled from there’. The Beeb have overlaid the sound onto various clips of Mr Gottfried holing out and fist-pumping with infectious enthusiasm.

Emily and Richard Gottfried
The Gottfrieds on international minigolf duty

Next thing we knew they were on the 6 O’clock news on Radio 4. The dulcet tones of Radio 4’s Danny Savage relate the tale of the Gottfrieds’ first game of minigolf at Southsea, and Richard tells the nation about the equipment used by top players, including the special set of minigolf balls. Here’s the programme, start listening at 27:10.

As if that wasn’t enough media exposure to warrant the Gottfrieds going around in dark glasses and wigs, The Times published an article about their putting exploits, in which Richard said, “It really has become an addiction. Mini golf is incredibly good fun and always such a challenge as the courses are different.

“Some require a lot of skill, and others are just down to luck. Visiting all of them has become a bit of an obsession, but it’s also been a great way to use our weekends and see other parts of the country we otherwise would never have been to.

“As much fun as I always have playing with Emily, we are also really competitive. We very often finish only a couple of shots apart, and sometimes if I lose I won’t speak to her in the car on the way home.”

The readers’ comments below the article are quite amusing too, reflecting both the general public’s bafflement at people getting obsessed with minigolf and the ‘dull’ image it is given by people who have never played it. The Gottfrieds revel in such prejudices – they are longstanding members of the Dull Men’s Club, an organisation that celebrates the ordinary.

We wish Richard and Emily all the best for their future putting endeavours. Their fun approach to life makes them wonderful ambassadors for the sport!

Oxford to get new minigolf centre

Lucky, lucky Oxford

New minigolf Oxford

Minigolf is burgeoning in the UK, with new course openings coming thick and fast. In the last eight months we’ve reported on new course openings in Tonbridge, Hartlepool, Chichester, Cheltenham, Warrington, York, London and Liverpool. And those are just the ones we can remember. Some openings are due to established chains like Mr Mulligan’s and Paradise Island Adventure Golf expanding into new towns, while others are grass-roots facilities created by councils and enthusiasts.

The latest to be announced is a new three-course minigolf facility in Oxford’s new Westgate shopping centre. The minigolf is intended to ‘anchor’ the restaurant area, which will include outlets such as Benito’s Hat, Rola Wala and Shawa Lebanese Grill. The £440m, 800,000 sq ft complex will feature over 100 shops including a mahoosive John Lewis, 25 eateries and a Curzon cinema.

Oxford Westgate brands
Cor! Look at that lot

Emma Mees, Senior Portfolio Manager at Landsec, the site’s developers, said ‘With Westgate Social, we aim to lead the charge for next generation retail destinations by bringing our scheme in line with the rapidly changing lifestyle habits  of consumers.’

We’re happy to hear that minigolf is ‘officially’ part of people’s changing lifestyle habits!

The putting will be provided by Junkyard Golf Club, who already run several other crazy golf venues fitted out with their trademark ultraviolet lights, weird junk and cool urban themes.

Oxford crazy golf Westgate

Junkyard Golf Club Co-founder Chris Legh said: “We are really excited to join Westgate Oxford, giving residents a completely unique day and night out, that is on a par with our leading cities.

“We have a huge space to play with so we’re going to fit in three courses, with crazy installations and some awesome bars. Look out for slides, cars, boats and of course the usual UV and jungle madness that has made our venues famous.

“Our mission in life is to keep making crazy golf epic.” [Oxfordshire Guardian]

The new Westgate Centre is scheduled to open on the 24th of October 2017.

Here at Putterfingers, we sell and hire minigolf that you don’t go to – you take it with you! See our portable minigolf course options at putterfingers.co.uk

Kids love minigolf! Here’s how to get them started

kids minigolf
Kids love minigolf

A new adventure golf course for kids has just opened in Bournemouth. It’s not the first one and it won’t be the last, but it is brilliant. Mighty Claws Adventure Golf, part of Playgolf Bournemouth, does more than offer a dinosaur-themed crazy golf experience. They’ve got a book that tells the story of a little dinosaur called Truly, and how she helps the Mighty Claws to triumph against the evil Iron Jaws to save the Roaring Kingdom. Kids who read the book with their parents before visiting will have absorbed the narrative of having to find magical totems that will restore peace to Sweet Claw Valley. These totems are to be found in real life on the adventure golf course. We love this idea and the way it draws kids in to a sense of adventure.

Kids minigolf
Mighty Claws Adventure Golf

There are plenty of ways to get your kids into golf. The Golf Foundation began in 1952 to help young people enjoy the playing and the personal benefits of golf. It is a charity that promotes golf to young people via schools and clubs. It came up with Tri-Golf, a version of golf designed for youngsters that aims to promote ‘Skills for Life’ including co-operation, good sportsmanship and concentration. Tri-Golf uses a plastic putter and an oversized, dimpled foam ball to make it easier to putt the ball into the hole or hit the target. Both items are available in our online golf store.

Kids tri-golf soft golf
Soft Golf

Soft Golf is our own version of golf for the very young. It uses a set of soft play obstacles with a farm animals theme, oversized plastic putters and large dimpled foam balls. It introduces small children to the concept of accuracy and helps them take their first steps towards developing sports skills. It can be used anywhere and is an ideal addition to any garden used by young children.

Youth mini golf training equipment
Youth golf training kits

We also supply youth training kits which contain enough equipment to get started in minigolf. The putters come in a variety of lengths to suit any age.

To find out more about getting kids into golf and minigolf, visit our page ‘Get into golf’.

 

Battle of Hastings: World Minigolf Champs in 3 weeks!

Hastings Adventure Golf
The Battle of Hastings starts on the 10th of June

Hastings Adventure Golf lies on the seafront in the shadow of the ruins of Hastings Castle. This quintessential British seaside town, town, famous for a certain invasion rather a long time ago, sees a newer invasion every year in the form of hundreds of avid mini golf enthusiasts, who descend on Hastings for the World Crazy Golf Championships. Brandishing putters rather than swords, they are of all abilities from novice to professional (uniquely, it’s an open competition), and compete for the coveted trophy. The tournament has its own unique set of rules, including the condition that all players must use the same type of ball. This contrasts with some other minigolf championships where a selection of balls with different properties can be used, and players select the desired one for each hole.

In 2013 an 18-year old Czech, Olivia Propokova, was both the first lady winner and also the youngest. Michael Smith has won it for the last two years, with Sean Homer never far behind. This year it kicks off on the 10th of June and lasts two days. The course presents many challenges, including a waterwheel, a windmill, an obelisk, lighthouse, ramps, bends, twists and bunkers. The top players know each hole inside out and are frequently able to hit a hole in one. The winner is the one who hits the most – and it’s usually tight at the top, with play sometimes going down to the last hole and the victor winning by a single stroke.

Here’s a video taken at the 2014 World Crazy Golf Championships, in which Sean Homer, Chairman of the British Mini Golf Association, talks about the World Minigolf Federation’s efforts to get Minigolf into the Olympic Games. There’s no good reason why it shouldn’t be included in the Olympics. It’s competitive, watchable, tense and requires great skill. Who knows? Maybe in a few years we will be watching Michael Smith and other top players kissing their gold medals on the Olympic podium. We’re keeping our Putterfingers crossed for that!

National Miniature Golf Day this Saturday!

National Miniature Golf Day

It’s almost here again – National Miniature Golf Day! Minigolf enthusiasts like us are excited because not only is this Saturday dedicated to our sport, but other things are happening too – read on to find out. It’s time to head to your nearest minigolf/crazy golf/adventure golf course and see what’s on offer. Some courses might be offering discounts on Saturday by way of promoting the sport.

Wondering how to find a minigolf course near you? For a pretty much definitive list of Britain’s minigolf courses, written by someone who has played over 700 of them – head over to Richard Gottfried’s blog for descriptions of and information on each one. There’s sure to be one near you to play on during National Miniature Golf Week.

The Himalayas St Andrews Ladies Putting Club

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the world’s first miniature golf course, the green known as the Himalayas at St Andrews Ladies’ Putting Club.  It was created to prevent the ‘unseemly’ spectacle of a lady raising her club above her shoulder – something which is still unseemly, not to mention inaccurate and potentially dangerous – on modern mini golf courses for either sex!

May is also National Golf Month. This year it is dedicated to getting more women into golf. Heaven forbid they should raise their clubs above the shoulder … which of course they will. It’s hard to hit a drive from a putting stance!

National Golf Month

And just a few weeks away, there will be a fantastic festival of minigolf at the World Minigolf Championships at Hastings Adventure Golf on the seafront. Last year Britain’s superstar Michael Smith won by four strokes from Sean Homer. Expect to see him fired up to defend his title this year. The World Champs are on the 10th and 11th of June.

World Mini golf Championships Hastings

So get down to your local course this National Miniature Golf Day, grab a putter and find out why so many people love minigolf!

For all minigolf needs, we’re the minigolf masters. Find out what we do at www.putterfingers.co.uk !