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!
Can music help you play better minigolf? What about SMELLS?
Improbable Research, the website behind the Ig Nobel Prize, has brought to our attention some crucial research in this area.
About Ways of Psychoemotional Status Regulation of Minigolf Playersis a piece of research published in the Medcrave Online Journal of Sports Medicine. In the name of science, a group of Russian boffins in Moscow bombarded minigolf players with music and odours to find out which ones made them perform best. We think that’s hilarious, so we’re sharing it with you.
Here’s a typical sentence from the study: ” The
functional status of an athlete organism is directly bound to his
psychoemotional states – conditions of stress, optimum readiness
The researchers assessed the players’ minigolf performance before and after playing them music at 54 BPM and releasing various pongs.
“Odorants represented 10% of mix of essential oils of bergamot, ylang-ylang, lemon, mint, sage muscat, basilic, geraniums, lavenders, rosemary and an eucalyptus in different combinations in oil of grape seed.”
The scientists took 13520 measurements of blood pressure and heart rate to assess the psychoemotional state of the players. Their conclusion, if you can call it that, is ““It is established that the effect of influence of the functional music is comparable with effect of influence of an activating odorant and exhaustion.”
So does this mean minigolf courses will soon be full of people playing chill-out music on their earphones and sniffing bottles of essential oil?
Do you have some favourite music you listen to when you play? And as for smells, well, we reckon that a true minigolf player just needs the smell of eternite and injection-moulded plastic to get into the Zone. That is the true smell of victory!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!