Much-loved American putting game Putt-Putt turned 64 last week and is still going strong, which shows that the U.S. putting population’s answer to the question “Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four?” is a resounding “Yes!”
Some British readers might not be familiar with Putt-Putt, but rest assured it’s miniature golf, just a specific version of it that was commercialised and popularised in the USA in the 1950s. Here’s a bit of its history and one notable occurrence.
When the first Putt-Putt® course opened in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1954, the Putt-Putt mission statement was simple and honest: “To provide families with a safe, clean, wholesome entertainment venue where they can have an enjoyable experience for a reasonable cost in their own community.” A game cost 25 cents and the courses were standardised to give as equal a challenge as possible from one course to another. Doing away with windmills, fountains and other paraphernalia, they consisted of simple geometric shapes and standardised carpet and rails to give even roll and predictable bounce. The holes are designed so that a hole in one is always possible. So it’s a game of pure putting skill and judgement.
A franchise business right from the start, Putt-Putt courses spread quickly and became a household name in family entertainment. It is still possible to apply to become a Putt-Putt franchisee! Soon the brand had its own league, the Professional Putters Association (PPA) which still exists today and offers relatively substantial prize money.
Here’s a video we’ve shared before which not only shows what Putt-Putt holes look like, but also one of the very few occasions on which a player has hit 18 consecutive aces – the perfect game (see original post here). It’s a superbly made animated video that documents the most exciting moment in the putting career of an IT manager called Rick Baird.
We love meeting brides and helping them select unique wedding entertainment. One of our favourite annual fixtures is our stand at the Newmarket Wedding Show. It’s always fun to meet brides and their families, wedding planners and other wedding suppliers. We always come away bristling with business cards and new customers. This post gives details about the 2018 Newmarket Wedding Show as well as two other wedding shows we are exhibiting at in the coming weeks.
Look for the Fun4Guests stand. Our sister company Fun4Guests provide fun packages including Putterfingers minigolf, and Putterfingers staff will be there, so our stand covers both brands. We have 10 years of experience in hiring our event equipment under our portable crazy golf banner of Putterfingers, but as Fun4Guests we have brought wedding crazy golf and other games together at the request of bridal parties.
Newmarket Wedding Show
The show takes place on Sunday 21st of January at the Millennium Grandstand, Rowley Mile Racecourse from 11am to 4pm. Come along and meet us on stand G20 to talk about wedding entertainment including crazy golf, giant wooden garden games, kissing booths, photo walls and much more.
Hockwold Hall Wedding Fayre
Hockwold Hall is a beautiful wedding and events venue on the borders of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. We have exhibited at the Wedding Fayre there for several years and we never miss the opportunity to meet people there and show them our wedding hire packages. If you go to the show, come and say hello to us in the marquee.
EDP Bride: The Wedding Show
This great wedding show takes place at the Norfolk Showground on the 17th and 18th of February. It’s a regular fixture in our calendar. We look forward to seeing you there!
Crazy Snooker was dreamed up by Betway, sponsors of the UK Snooker Championship, as a way of making snooker more appealing to those who find the regular game a bit boring to watch. Maybe the players needed a break from the monotony of potting and snookering for a living as well. Crazy Snooker is a blend of crazy golf and snooker, played on a standard 12-foot table covered in helter skelters, windmills, jumps, ramps, and other minigolf obstacles.
The 2016 Betway Crazy Snooker series of matches was played by snooker’s top stars, including Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Dennis Taylor and John Parrott. It is something of a leveller among the top players, even though plenty of skill is involved. As Betway say in one of their YouTube videos, ‘Mark Selby and Neil Robertson may have won all there is to win in the sport, but they’ve never faced a challenge like this.’ The 6-hole course is brutal, and can send even the most seasoned snooker player’s ball slithering back towards him off a ramp and failing to get anywhere near its target.
This blog has been a bit slow on the uptake with Crazy Snooker, since it has been around for quite a while now. Encyclopaedic minigolf enthusiast Richard Gottfried played an outdoor table-top version of crazy golf called Pit-Pat in Littlehampton back in 2012. Here’ s a video of him trying it out with his wife Emily.
So perhaps Betway didn’t actually invent the sport, but being entrepreneurial folks, decided to create their own version and popularise it. Anyway, its 2016 season was a success and now it’s back in 2017 for another bout of physics-based action from the greatest players in snooker. Here’s a video of them having an infuriating but good-natured match.
Could snooker go the same way as ‘pyjama cricket’, with variations on the original game gaining popularity due to the audience enjoying it more? Maybe. Look what happpened with golf and crazy golf!
Gogglebox stars Steph & Dom, the ‘posh ones’, are known for cracking up viewers with their hilarious banter. The B&B owners enjoy a tipple in front of the camera and have a knack for surreal and funny comments.
They found their way onto Gogglebox after appearing on Channel 4’s Four In A Bed in 2013, which they thought would help to promote their B&B The Salutation in Sandwich, Kent. They played up and enjoyed it so much that they were asked to be on Gogglebox, and the rest is comedy gold.
Post-Gogglebox they are now on a show called Steph & Dom’s One Star To Five Star, in which they visit hotels and B&Bs around the country and offer advice to the owners on how to sprinkle a little magic around the place. It isn’t always the best advice, but Steph & Dom’s offhandness about it all is quite funny in itself.
In Episode 30, aired this week, the funny posh duo had a go at minigolf and were charmingly bad at it, as you’d expect. The minigolf was part of their last day ‘helping’ at Beldon House not far from Scunthorpe. They appear to have visited Oddballs Crazy Golf at Cleethorpes, a course played and reviewed by the ubiquitous Richard Gottfried, who commented on its exceptionally large windmill. We just happened on the episode and managed to grab the minigolf bit on a smartphone camera.
So yeah, they are not exactly world championship material, but they don’t care, do they? And it’s a bit ironic that they are criticised for not providing ‘enough banter’. We think Steph should be called the Archbishop of Banterbury (Are women bishops allowed now?)
Sky Sports airs gripping adventure golf champs played at the Belfry
Our regular readers might recognise the face in the photo above. Yes, it’s our friend Richard Gottfried, putting supremo and the man behind the long-lived crazy golf blog The Ham and Egger Files. He has putted his way round over 700 minigolf courses in the British Isles and documented every one in his Crazy World of Minigolf Tour. He is no stranger to the media, but what is unusual in image above is that it is minigolf on the TELLY! Sky Sports, to be exact. Our favourite sports has hit prime time subscription TV!
Golf equipment supplier American Golf sponsors a series of golf tournaments in the UK which have grown in popularity. This year they have managed to secure slots on prime time Sky Sports TV for their competitions. Alongside the ‘big’ golf’ events like the Junior Championship and the 9 Hole Pairs, this year saw the inaugural Adventure Golf Pairs Championship aired on Sky Sports. Richard Gottfried, pictured above and below, chose Peter Jones as his teammate for this event. The grand final of the tournament was held on the Ryder Legends Mini Golf Course at The Belfry – not to shabby a venue! Each hole represents a famous hole from big golf, and includes some very long holes with a high difficulty level.
We are thrilled that our favourite sport has had this airing on a leading sports channel, alongside big golf and on an equal footing with it. We’ve always known that minigolf is just as challenging and exciting as big golf, but now the sports-viewing public has had a front row view of top minigolf players in action, and seen how seriously they take it.
So big respect to American Golf for adding minigolf to their tournament series!
Simon Lee, who won the adventure golf final with partner Steve Gerrish, said, “It’s a great way to get people who don’t play golf into the sport. They can come along and have a bit of fun. It was brilliant to see everyone come out today. If there was more stuff like this around I think you’d have more young kids getting into golf.”
Of course minigolf is more than a gateway into big golf – it’s a mature and highly competitive sport in itself. But if it helps send more nippers on their way to giving Rory McIlroy a run for his money, we’re happy about that too!
It’s fairly common to see an Eiffel Tower obstacle out on a minigolf course – after all, its inviting arch makes a natural target to putt through. La Tour Eiffel pops up most often on ’round the world’ – type courses featuring famous landmarks. Made out of metal, wood or whatever came to hand, the giraffe-like structure is a pleasing addition to any minigolf course.
So what if we told you that now you can play minigolf ON the Eiffel Tower rather than through a miniature version of it? That’s right, there is now a minigolf course on the viewing platform of the actual Eiffel Tower! In Paris!
It’s all part of the build-up to the 28th of September 2018, the day the next Ryder Cup starts. The big ‘big golf’ event will be held at Le Golf National near Paris, and the organisers have only gone and bagged the city’s most famous landmark for some promotional stunts, including the two team captains hitting golf balls off the tower down the Champ de Mars (what people picnicking down there thought of this has not been reported).
And as part of these events, for the first time ever a minigolf course has been installed on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. It’s a themed 6-hole ‘tour of Paris’ with players putting past the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe and – guess what – an itty-bitty Eiffel Tower, on their way to the Ryder Cup itself. With the thousands of visitors to the tower each day, it’s bound to generate extra ticket sales for the Ryder Cup.
It’s only there for a week, but we think it’s a great piece of marketing from the Ryder Cup folks. If you’re in Paris this week and are OK with heights, go and have a play!
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 🙂
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:
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!
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.
We’ll never use the words ‘adventure golf’ in quite the same way again after hearing about this trip!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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’.
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!