A bit of history about the most addictive thing you can do with a ball and a stick
This is the first in a series of two or maybe three posts about how minigolf got started, why it got so crazily popular, and other historical bits and bobs and trivia about the game. If you’re curious about where minigolf/crazy golf/adventure golf/putt-putt/goofy golf came from and how it got started, read on!
Much as we’d love to say that minigolf started in England, the truth is that it’s a transatlantic affair. There were British precursors – more on them in a minute – but the idea of a minigolf course as a theme park goes back to the American miniature golf boom of the 1920s. Surely no self-respecting Englishman would charge the public money to enter a kitsch landscape full of objects that made garden gnomes look like Michelangelos, and putt a ball around it in the name of enjoyment? But here’s the kicker: it was an Englishman who opened the first ever minigolf course in America! But first let everything go wavy for a moment as we take you back to the first inklings of minigolf.
For all we know, prehistoric folks might have played miniature golf with jawbones and rat skulls. But for this article, we’ll have to leave the anthropology aside and stick to the recorded facts.
If we define a precursor of minigolf as ‘a smaller and more compact version of golf’, the Ladies’ Putting Club at St Andrews was the first prominent example of such a game. To give the golf widows something to do as their hubbies hiked around the links all day, a putting-only area called ‘The Himalayas’ was set up specially for ladies. At the time it was considered unseemly for a lady to swing a club above the shoulder, but a bit of demure putting was permissible as long as they were all ladylike about it and didn’t make to much noise besides a light tinkle of musical laughter. So the patronised females were given their own bit of St Andrews, and it proved popular. Other clubs around Britain copied the idea, but they were more pitch-and-putt courses than minigolf as we know it today.
One of the earliest attempts to package miniature golf and sell it as a product was Golfstacle, a game patented by a British Army Colonel in 1907 as ‘a golf game for putters’ or alternatively ‘golf-croquet’. In your wooden box you got some painted metal obstacles including croquet-style hoops, balls, putters and a peg taken straight from croquet, which was presumably what you had to try to hit with your ball. Putting cups were still a thing of the future, but the introduction of obstacles and the compact size of the course layout was a significant step towards minigolf as we know it today. The game is documented in the 8th June 1912 edition of the Illustrated London News:
In last week’s post we reported on the celebrity-studded ICAP Charity Day and how we helped to make it happen with our minigolf equipment. Stars had a go on our Global-branded challenge putt hole to raise funds. Well now we’ve had some feedback from Megan Hornsby at Global:
I just wanted to say Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all here at Global’s Make Some Noise! We are so pleased to announce that from ICAP Charity Day on Wednesday 5th December we were granted an amazing £120,000! Thanks to your help, the money raised will go on to help fund and support small children’s and young people’s projects across the UK.
Thank you and I look forward to building our relationship with PutterFingers. Good luck with your new job!
And it’s goodbye to Shelley!
Eagle-eyed readers might have noticed the last sentence there in the feedback from Global. Yes, it’s true: after 9 years at the helm of Putterfingers and having built it into the leader in minigolf hire it is today, Putterfingers manager Shelley is moving on to pastures new. In typical Shelley style she is diligently making sure everything is in order before she hands the reins over to the very capable team of Jim, Richard, John and Alfie.
We are all sad to see her go – and a bit worried as well to be honest because her head contains pretty much everything there is to know about Putterfingers. But she’s doing a great job of making sure we’re not all left in the lurch after this Friday. We are referring to her departure as ‘Shexit’ because to us it’s as important an event as Brexit. (We did ask for a second referendum!) So thanks for everything Shelley, and the whole team wishes you the very best for the future!
Putterfingers have supplied a Challenge Putt hole to the celebrity-strewn ICAP Charity Day in the City of London. For a whole day, ICAP, a City broker, donates 100% of its revenue and brokers’ commissions to charity.
Brokers on the trading floor dressed up in silly outfits including dinosaurs, hippies and a school choir. Celebrities dropped in throughout the day to make trades on the phone and bank the commission for charity.
We supplied a minigolf hole for Make Some Noise, whom we also helped out in October at their own fundraising day. As the celebs poured in, they had a go on our Challenge Putt hole. Here are a few snaps from the #makesomenoise hole on a memorable day!
And here’s the Duchess of Cornwall pulling off what was reportedly a £200 million trade to raise £2750, which would have been the broker’s commission on any ordinary day.
Here’s Love Island winner Dani Dyer getting on the dog and bone to help out:
So we’re all celebbed out, and it was wonderful to see our equipment helping to raise funds for good causes!
The stars seem to have aligned this week for a combination of two of our favourite things: minigolf and Lego. Three unrelated events involving minigolf and Lego have made us wonder why the world has waited so long to realise that it’s a perfect combination!
1. We posted a photo of a minigolf hole we’ve made out of Megabricks. These are not Lego but fit together in a similar way to build structures. Megabricks are giant plastic blocks – like breeze blocks – that are colourful, fun, strong and can build almost anything. Because we’re Putterfingers, we naturally built a few minigolf holes. Here’s one of them.
Looks great, doesn’t it? When we posted it online, the reaction was ‘Wow, that’s new!’ We haven’t put Megabricks minigolf on our site yet, but get in touch with us if you are interested in hiring or buying a blocky and colourful minigolf set that’s really different!
2. On Channel 4’s Lego Masters last night, one of the challenges was to build a crazy golf course out of Lego. With our Megabricks it doesn’t take long because each brick is big. But with little Lego bricks it must have taken them ages. They had to make moving obstacles with motorised parts, and the hole had to be playable. Quite a challenge.
If you don’t know what Lego Masters is, it’s a show with a similar format to MasteChef and others where contestants compete to produce the best creation for a panel of judges in a limited time. The fact that they chose minigolf as a challenge for the builders goes to show how popular minigolf is at the moment!
3. LegoLand Florida are building a minigolf course! The blocky U.S. attraction has filed plans for a 10,000 square foot minigolf area as part of its expansion to include areas dedicated to the Lego Movie franchise.
It seems the world has gone Lego minigolf mad, just after Putterfingers had the idea of tinkering with plastic bricks to make minigolf holes and published photos on social media. Maybe – just maybe – somebody at C4 and LegoLand Florida was watching!
‘Big Top Ted’ McIver shows his passion for minigolf on BBC2
Some excellent minigolf footage has appeared on Celebrity Antiques Road Trip on BBC2! In Episode 1 of Season 8, Denise Van Outen and Tim Medhurst find themselves hunting for antiques in Margate, then they swing by Strokes Adventure Golf. There they meet none other than 3-time British Open champ John ‘Big Top Ted’ McIver! It’s great to see him chatting away genially with the celebs. McIver is a bit of a celeb himself in the minigolf world, and a very nice bloke to boot.
Van Outen and Medhurst trundle up in their convertible Morris Minor and hit the course to find Ted, whom they quiz about the history of minigolf. He is more than happy to oblige and launches into a potted history of the sport – a putted history really – that touches on several of the landmark eras and places in the development of our beloved game.
Big Top Ted mentions the Himalayas course at St Andrews, site of the Ladies’ Putting Club, which was a precursor to minigolf. The narrator then describes Golfstacle, the first mini golf set you could buy, before going across the pond to address the minigolf explosion over there. Ted then talks about some of the crazier things to be found on mini golf courses during its early heyday, including trained bears and monkeys.
This is high quality footage of minigolf on the Beeb, and we’re delighted to see it. Big Top Ted’s enthusiasm is obvious and he comes across really well. Here’s the clip.
It’s a bit of a shame we didn’t get to see three-time British champion McIver demonstrate his putting technique, but it was probably hard to concentrate with TV cameras there and celebs yacking in his face. Still, it’s another great bit of minigolf footage that we just had to share with our blog readers!
Chancellor’s Budget: outdoor weddings to be allowed!
We’ve all seen al fresco wedding ceremonies in the movies. Typically the vows are exchanged, or prevented from being exchanged depending on the film, on a beach, with nothing more than an arch of flowers and a celebrant forming the ‘venue’. Until now this has not been possible in England, forcing those whose hearts are set on an outdoor wedding to go to Hawaii or Florida or somewhere even more exotic. But that’s about to change.
One of the unexpected announcements in this week’s budget was a change to the laws that dictate the type of wedding venues we can get married in. It paves the way for outdoor weddings, pub weddings, restaurant weddings, even weddings at home, and it is designed to reduce the cost burden of getting hitched, a significant part of which is venue hire. Previously (since the 1830s), we have only been allowed to marry in a structure with a solid roof (not a marquee), and food and drink may not be served there. That’s why the norm is usually a service or registry office wedding followed by everybody decamping to a reception venue for speeches, food, drink and dancing. Currently, civil ceremonies must take place in register offices or approved premises that have been licensed for the purpose by local authorities.
The new law aims to make it cheaper and simpler to get married. Full disclosure: at Putterfingers we’re happy about this, because we hire out minigolf for wedding parties and if this means more people can afford to get married, then it means more business for us! Readers of this blog will know that our minigolf courses work just as well outdoors as indoors and don’t require a power supply, which makes them ideal for outdoor weddings. The courses are modular and weatherproof, easy to set up and can be shaped to fit the space available.
We’re delighted that wedding couples and their guests are going to be able to enjoy Putterfingers minigolf at a wider variety of venues!
Never one to miss an invitation to London, the Putterfingers team headed to London in preparation of 5th October to bring golf to a corporate client and twinned this with the opportunity to supply a couple of golf holes for the infamous MakeSomeNoise Charity Day, held at Global Media & Entertainment Group’s HQ in Leicester Square. Global’s media brands include Heart FM, Capital FM, Smooth Radio, LBC, RadioX, CapitalXTRA and My Gold Music, and all these stations put the fundraising campaign front and centre of their scheduling for the day, with their listeners making it happen by donating.
Organiser Wendy Nicol said, “The golf holes were a real hit with not only the staff but the canine companion we had in for the day as you can see! We will be sure to spread the word about using Putterfingers for future events.”
This year’s @MakeNoise campaign raised a whopping £4,198,678 to help disadvantaged children, young people and their families across the UK! We’re proud that our minigolf was a part of this successful fundraising drive. Here are some photos from the big day.
We’re please the fundraising event went so well and Global say they will be back for more!
The University of Salford wanted to add fun and inclusive activities to its 2018 Welcome Week, so naturally enough the called Putterfingers for a minigolf hire. What better game for students to socialise over and what better game to project the image of the University as a fun place to be? They tweeted out to invite everyone down to the sports hall and play on the Funsize course:
Putt your skills to the test and check out our 9-hole crazy golf course all day tomorrow from 10am in the Student's Union!
Set the best from the rest as you'll compete to see who's the next Tiger Woods! Please bring a spare pair of trousers, you might get a hole in one! ?? pic.twitter.com/6kuhf97gxS
We hire out minigolf courses to universities regularly for open days, fresher’s weeks, graduation days, parties, fundraising events, Students’ Union activities and sports days. All ages and abilities can play and the courses are wheelchair friendly too. Their modular design means they can be laid out to fit almost any indoor or outdoor space and can even be laid around or through other things that are going on. The putting surface consists of square astro grass tiles that dovetail together to build a wide variety of shapes, which makes it highly adaptable to any venue. Here’s a bit more info on hiring minigolf on our Schools and Colleges page.
Universities and colleges pull out all the stops in September/October to make Freshers’ Week as fun as possible for their new intake of students. Societies scramble to recruit members, industrial amounts of beer are drunk and everybody gets to know their classmates for the coming year. A big part of the ‘ents’ budget goes on concerts and shows, but the students’ union needs to be a fun place in between these events as well.
We have found over the years that minigolf fits the bill nicely as an icebreaker during Freshers’ Week. It’s fun, colourful and as competitive as you want to make it. Students love to mingle over a round of minigolf, and it can even raise funds for charity at the same time if the students’ union organises a sponsored putt or mini-golfathon.
Challenge Putt: a simple way to break the ice at trade shows
Do you exhibit at trade shows? Want to attract more people to your stand and get them talking to you? A good way to hook them is with a Challenge Putt – a small mini golf hole designed to fit into a typical exhibition booth space. It offers a have-a-go putting exercise to get attendees thinking about what you do and how it relates to them. We’ll design the end board to include your logo and a brand message. When people focus on trying to get a putt through the hole, they are focusing on your brand – and they are far more likely to remember it! Meanwhile, you have a good chance of striking up a conversation with them and telling them more about what you do. It’s a simple and effective way to get more footfall through your trade show stand and interact with more people.
You can add incentives like a cash prize or something people would normally have to pay for, like a consultation, a free service or some of your product. The challenge can be to get the ball through one of the holes in the board or into the putting cup. We can suggest ideas that have worked well in the past if you’re not quite sure what to do with your Challenge Putt hole.
Our minigolf putting surface is modular, so it’s possible to make any size of Challenge Putt. For those with enough space, we can make a Challenge Putt that’s 7 or 8 metres long! Add an obstacle or two and make it a par 2 for a trickier challenge.
Businesses who want to make minigolf a regular fixture at their corporate events or have it as a breakout room perk can buy a fully branded course. From three to nine holes can be branded with your company logo, strapline, or other insignia to enhance the corporate image and brand.
To hire or buy a Challenge Putt hole for trade shows and events or to talk about a branded minigolf course, call Putterfingers on 08450 570321, email us or visit our site.
A little while back, we blogged about how pub minigolf could be the next big thing in leisure. Somebody must have heard us, because not long after that we had a call from The Hangout in Llandeilo asking to hire crazy golf for a crazy golf pub crawl. The Hangout is a vibrant venue that serves delicious healthy food and puts on a lot of events throughout the year for its regulars and their friends. The 9 hole mini golf tour started at The Hangout but nobody remembers where it finished, probably because there were drinks at each hole. We have no photographic evidence of the scene at the 9th hole, but we suspect that any reports of putting accuracy there are greatly exaggerated.
The Hangout’s patrons and their friends took the compulsory fancy dress rule and ran with it, most of them going for the PGA golfer from the 1980s look. With a drink served at every hole, it looks as if this photo was taken well into the round or after it. Or it could just be the euphoric effects of playing mini golf, which are well documented. Probably a mixture of the two. They also have Nerf gun wars and an Oktoberfest at the Hangout, which are two other reasons, if such were needed, to like this fun-loving town very much indeed.
We were more than happy to provide the mini golf equipment for their Pub Golf Day. It seems that the pub minigolf format works well for a bunch of fun-oriented folks like the residents of Llandeilo.
The Pub Golf Day was part of the Llandeilo Festival of the Senses | G?yl y Synhwyrau, a three-day binge of music, food, comedy and sport throughout the town.
Most towns have at least one festival of food, music, arts or other things. A mini golf pub crawl can add extra fun to town festivals everywhere. For hire details, call Shelley on 08450 570321, visit our pubs & hotels page or drop us an email.