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!
For over ten years Putterfingers have been diligently supplying crazy golf to wedding parties to make sure the guests have a fun time. We beaver away behind the scenes delivering and setting up the courses, dealing directly with the venue or with the bride and groom and their family. We supply the best crazy golf equipment for hire and we’re nice people, so it’s lovely to get a bit of recognition from time to time. This week hen party planning website GoHen have included us in the Top 50 UK Wedding Entertainers Guide. Here’s what GoHen said about us:
We’ve always known that minigolf is just as entertaining as magicians, casinos, singers, bands, karaoke, fairground rides and dancers. So it’s good to see our crazy golf hire service listed alongside all those other favourite wedding party entertainers.
As GoHen say, ‘Sometimes weddings can a little bit boring. There, we said it! But while the bride and groom are off posing for the perfect wedding photo, guests can sometimes get a little bit lost.’
We’ve always done our best to make wedding parties more fun by giving guests a challenging but enjoyable game that can be played by all ages. What better way to bring wedding guests together than letting each one grab a putter and get on the minigolf course? Everyone from Grumpy Gramps to Tiny Tim can have a go, and that’s when the smiles start spreading around the wedding party. Crazy golf isn’t terribly noisy, so that guests can actually hear each other speak, and that helps them to socialise. They can take the game as seriously or light-heartedly as they please. Uncle Fred might want to place a bet on a game, whereas Auntie Mabel might just wat to have a friendly game with the kids. Either way, it works and is absorbing fun for everyone.
Portable crazy golf hire couldn’t be simpler. We deliver and take away a premium crazy golf course complete with everything needed for a wedding party to have a fun game. Just call us on 08450 570321 a minimum of two weeks before the event, and we’ll do the rest!
Sipsmith is the first copper-pot distillery to open within London’s city limits in nearly two centuries. Since opening in 2009 the firm has been awarded the Observer Food Monthly Award for Best Newcomer and established a strong presence as a craft distiller of note. For their recent team building event at their HQ in Chiswick, London, Sipsmith’s Minister of Fun Adam Ellesmere called us to hire our Supersize course. Here’s a short video of the course laid out inside the distillery!
Using bottles as obstacles was a great idea. A minigolf ball running along the sides of the bottles made a pleasing xylophone effect as their new recruits and student applicants putted round and got to know the team. One of the great things about hiring Putterfingers minigolf is that it can be laid out wherever it is needed and customised to give it the company’s identity. It’s portable, so you don’t go to it – it comes to you!
Sipsmith are brilliant at creating a fun atmosphere to work in. Just look at their ‘meet the team’ page, with job titles like ‘Prime Minister of Fun’, ‘Ginthusiast’ and ‘Empress of Events’. It’s clear that they take employee happiness seriously (because the founding team of Sam, Jared and Fairfax are huge fun-lovers themselves). Sipsmith are the latest brand to choose Putterfingers crazy golf as the entertainment centrepiece of their team building event. To see others, including Facebook and Tommy Hilfiger, just look back through this blog.
Courses can be used outdoors or indoors. Or even in a distillery, because why not? Even if an event is in a remote field for some reason, mminigolf works perfectly because it requires no power supply, is lightweight, portable and weatherproof. It is even gin-resistant for those tricky distillery events!
So if you’re ginterested, give your employees a tonic and hire a minigolf course for your next company event. It’s sure to lift their spirits!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Minigolf is a great addition to any event. It gets people socialising (and competing!) and can be used simply for fun, to promote a brand or message, or to raise funds for charity.
So, what types of events are we talking about? Here’s a selection of happenings where minigolf can be a fantastic ingredient to spice things up and create a memorable day.
Awards ceremonies, product launches, marketing drives, annual dinners … any business bash can have a minigolf course laid out to entertain guests. It’s the ideal activity to do while having a drink and socialising. Everybody can join in and take on the hole-in-one challenge or see who can get round the course in the fewest strokes. One caveat though: things can get competitive! It’s fascinating to people-watch at corporate events with minigolf and see who is the most competitive, who comes out of their shell more than usual, who is a good team player. Management, take note!
Open days, fetes, fresher’s weeks, sports days, end-of-term reward days, proms … they can all be livened up with a minigolf course. We deliver the day before the event and take it away the day after. If the event is on a Saturday, you get the course free for an extra day! We’ll come and whisk it away on the Monday or next working day. We’re happy to work directly with the venue if you wish, so you don’t have to worry about the logistics.
Minigolf is ideal for charity fundraising because of the wide range of people who can participate. Unlike a sponsored run, people don’t need to exert themselves too much, but just give up some of their time for a gentle putt around the course. All ages can participate. We supply a variety of putter lengths for all heights, and the courses are wheelchair-friendly, too. So really there’s no excuse for not joining in and putting for your charity!
You can organise a putt-a-thon (sponsored per hole). Get local businesses involved too – they can each sponsor a hole. We’re happy to help with branding each hole to its sponsor so they get some publicity too. For more on charity fundraising, see our page on it.
Ah, the wedding party. How do you keep everyone entertained? Will it be a flop? Not with mini golf! It keeps the kids busy by giving them something to do, and can be laid out indoors or outdoors on any reasonably level surface. We can deal direct with the venue so the bride and groom and their families don’t need to worry about the logistics of delivering, setting up taking down and taking away the minigolf course.
If you run a pub, hotel or catering establishment, what better way to get more punters in than to give them a fun game to play? You can hire a course for one-off or annual events and promotions, or buy one to use whenever you like. How about organising a minigolf league? It makes a change from darts, pool, skittles and quizzes, and your place could become the talk of your locality.
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!