We looked at our corporate client list today and thought: Blimey, look at all the big companies who hire our crazy golf courses!
Things have moved on a lot in the last couple of years, with marketing agencies and events organisers from blue chip companies ringing us to book minigolf hire for their corporate events. We’ve hired to BP, ASDA, Nestlé, the BBC, the RAF, Morgan Stanley, Vimto and other blue chip clients, plus lots of smaller businesses as well.
Oooh, get us, little old Putterfingers, hobnobbing around with all these big names!
But before we get stars in our eyes, let’s come back down to why we started crazy golf hire in the first place. We still love the serve the people who have helped us grow and are still the core of our business: private weddings, birthday parties and charity events.
We believe that minigolf is for the people. It’s a grass roots thing. So while it’s thrilling to drive a course down to London for a bash at Facebook HQ, or design a branded course for Zurich Insurance, we get just as much satisfaction from setting up a course at a wedding or a children’s party.
Putterfingers crazy golf courses are portable and modular – the putting surface is made up from square astro grass tiles that interlock to create a smooth surface. So a course can be built in minutes that fits into practically any space, indoors or outdoors. That makes Putterfingers minigolf courses the most flexible option for minigolf hire – and it has been designed to all fit into a standard lift shaft, so that even if the party is on the tenth floor, the course can get up there!
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!
It looks as if we can all emerge from our Winter holes now … the air is getting warmer, we can shed a few layers and outdoor activities are suddenly a lot more appealing. It’s the time of year when outdoor minigolf really comes into its element. It’s simple and easy to crank up the fun at parties, weddings and events with a minigolf course to challenge and amuse guests. Delivery from Putterfingers is the day before the event and setup is ridiculously easy – a full course can be laid out in just half an hour. Here are a few common questions people ask us about our minigolf courses and equipment, and their answers. Here we go then – you’ll see how straightforward it is. Then it’s just pure fun for you and your guests.
How is the course put together?
The putting surface consists of a number of interlocking astro grass tiles. They dovetail together to create a smooth green. A wide variety of different putting green shapes can be made out of the square tiles, from smaller Tetris-like L’s and T’s to looooooong holes for a challenging putt. You get a large number of foam edge bumpers to line each hole with. They stick to the putting surface with Velcro, so you just lay them along the edges of the hole to keep the ball in play. The bumpers can also be used to create barriers across the putting green to make a ‘pinball’ – type hole where it’s hard to get a hole in one. Bumpers can also be used at various angles to create bank shots where players have to calculate the angle to get a good bounce towards the cup.
Obstacles come in quite a few shapes and sizes. The My Minigolf set contains Bridge, Acapulco (spiral), Daytona (banked curve), 360 and Maze. Place them anywhere you like to make the hole as challenging or easy as you see fit. For kids, we have the Soft Golf set of spongy farm animals with a hole at the bottom to aim for. And with Picture Putt, you putt towards face in hole boards featuring Punch and Judy and traditional seaside characters for a fun photo opportunity.
When the course is laid out, just place the cones or flags at the tee for each hole, grab a putter and you’re off!
What kind of outdoor surface do I need?
Any reasonably flat and level outdoor or indoor surface is fine for a Putterfingers minigolf course. You can use a sports field, a tarmac area, a back garden or a car park – pretty much anywhere. If you’re planning an event indoors, you’ll be pleased to know that the tiles do not mark or scratch floors, so whether it’s a wooden floor, a gym floor, a hotel function room, an office or a community centre hall, it will work just fine. The tiles are also non-slip with a rubberised backing so the course is stable when walked on.
What if it rains?
Our putting surface is astro grass which dries out quickly after a shower. The ball is never bogged down by water as there is none on the actual putting surface. It soaks through the tiles via the little holes. So after a downpour you can be playing again in no time.
How much space do I need?
For a Supersize or Funsize course, about half a tennis court. Roughly 50 square metres. For a Bitesize course, it can fit in a small back garden – around 20 square metres.
What are the delivery options?
The delivery cost includes return delivery. We deliver via a pallet service with national coverage and the option of selecting a timed delivery if required. Arrange with us beforehand when and where you want the course collected. Then simply pack up your course when finished and leave it for collection.
Scientists have discovered that bumblebees can learn to ‘putt’ a ball into a hole in order to receive a sugary reward. It’s surprising because rolling a ball into a hole isn’t standard bee behaviour. But they can learn how to do it, and not only that, but teach other bees how to do it as well.
Using a fake bee on a little stick, the boffins rolled a tiny ball into a hole and then administered a drop of sugar solution which the test bee hungrily sucked up. After a couple of goes at this, the bee was left to its own devices with a ball and a hole rigged to dispense a reward when the ball dropped into it. Pretty much straight away, the test bee rolled the ball into the hole and had a sweet drink. It then appeared to show this behaviour to another untrained bee. Watch it in this video.
One of the boffins said, ‘We wanted to explore the cognitive limits of bumblebees by testing whether they could use a non-natural object in a task likely never encountered before by any individual in the evolutionary history of bees.’ Not only did the bees succeed, but they got better at it over time and showed adaptive behaviour that goes well beyond what most people would expect from a bee. They haven’t tried including obstacles in their experiments yet because it’s difficult to make really tiny windmills, but the bees would probably learn to get round them if they were there.
So what do we learn from this? Well, that minigolf is fun, even for bees. And all human minigolfers know the sweet sensation of holing out. This research shows that bees experience the sweet sensation too. All right, it is administered by someone in a lab coat holding a pipette, but still, this shows that bees enjoy minigolf just as much as people.
We don’t sell putters for bees, but we do sell them for people. Maybe after holing out you could drink a coke or eat a cupcake if you want to imitate the experiment. But usually just playing minigolf is enough enjoyment in itself.
Hire or buy a minigolf course from Putterfingers and see what the buzz is all about.
Minigolf can be a carefree day out, a serious obsession, or anything in between. Where do you lie on this scale? Have you played a few times and started to hanker after a better score? Or are you already impressing your friends and wanting to improve your technique to shave a few more strokes off your rounds?
Here are some general suggestions on minigolf technique. We should start out by saying that there is no one-size-fits-all set of instructions on how to putt successfully. The beauty of the game is that different players will grow into a style that works for them, and each player looks a bit different as they putt. But there are some basics that apply to everyone, and this Mr Bean-style video covers a few of them. Actually rule number one should be ‘don’t dress like him’.
So, bring your own putter if you have one because you’ll be more used to it.
Walk the course before you start and check out any imperfections in the edges or putting surface that might affect your shot. Walking it also gives you a better idea of distance.
Observe the timing of moving obstacles (if any) to help you time your shot just right.
Focus. Tune out all distractions.
Hit the ball just hard enough to get the desired effect, no harder.
Now for actual putting technique.
The backhand grip is the most common grip used by pro minigolfers. If you are right handed, your right hand is above your left hand on the grip of the putter. It gives firm control of the putter and requires less movement of the upper body when playing a shot. Not every minigolfer uses this grip but some pro ‘big’ golfers have stated that they wish they had started out with it rather than the forehand grip.
Experiment with how far apart you place your hands on the putter grip. It will affect how much force you can easily get into a shot. If playing on beton or eternite, less force is needed so you might have your hands closer together. If playing on felt or astrograss, especially on long holes, you are likely to need more leverage to get the required power, so move your lower hand further down the grip.
Stance is very important too. It is a balance between stability and upper body movement. The feet should be no less than 30cm apart. Any closer together and you are sacrificing stability. Many good minigolfers will adopt a much wider stance than this, which is great for stability but allows less ‘pendulum’ effect of the upper body, so the arm muscles are more involved in the shot. It is generally easier to play gentle shots accurately with a wider stance since you are not swinging your whole body at the ball. Bend your knees a little, but not so much that your legs get tired. Keep your heels on the ground throughout the shot so as to preserve the solid base of your chosen stance.
The head of your putter should be at 90 degrees to the intended direction of travel of the ball and the head should rest horizontally on the putting surface when you are sighting. Find a putter that fits your stance to achieve this. There are also putters with adjustable-angle heads to help you address the ball perfectly.
So there are a few pointers on technique. Apart from that, it’s practice, practice, practice!
Here’s a little video of what happens at a typical minigolf course after it rains. Small children might love it, taking after infant role model Peppa Pig and splashing in puddles for fun. But grown-ups who have paid for a minigolf experience might feel that they could have found a puddle elsewhere for the little ones to splash around in free of charge.
So how about a putting surface that drains when it rains? Water doesn’t lay on top of the rolling surface of Putterfingers astrograss tiles, which means they can be played on in any weather, barring heavy snow. No more putting in puddles. Your ball rolls evenly over the surface unimpeded by water, even after a heavy shower. So even if players get a bit soggy, the minigolf course won’t be.
The tiles are also UV-treated so that the lovely green colour won’t fade even when left out in the sun for extended periods.
When the tiles interlock together with their dovetail joins, it creates a smooth putting surface and the ball does not bobble when it rolls over a join. The surface is like a flat, well-trimmed lawn.
We hope it doesn’t rain at your event. But if it does, the minigolf won’t have to stop with a Putterfingers minigolf course.
To hire a minigolf course whatever the weather, drop us a line at email@example.com or call Shelley on 08450 570 321. Check out all our courses and options at www.putterfingers.co.uk.
Last week we posted on Facebook about the uncertain future of the minigolf course in Dawlish. Teignbridge Council had decided the course was dangerous and would have to be demolished. This caused a furore among town councillors who said they had not been consulted about what would replace the historic minigolf course and were left in the dark about future plans for the site. The ire of local minigolfers and travelling putters was not mentioned, but we can only assume the would consider it a great loss to the minigolf world.
The Exe Estuary Trail cycle route is to be extended through Dawlish and this will require widening an existing footpath running next to the minigolf course. Some modifications will be necessary to the course, but it will remain in place … if the Council can find somebody willing to run it.
A Teignbridge Council spokesman said: “As part of the alterations, Teignbridge looked at what improvements could be made to the existing Mini Golf Course.
“Investigations were made and it was felt that there was an opportunity to invite Expressions of Interest to take on the running of the mini golf for a minimum term of five years so that it could be open all year round. Any improvements proposed could involve modernising the course and making it more of an attraction to the area.
“This will hopefully offer an exciting business opportunity for someone to invest in the town as we look to welcome visitors to Dawlish all year round.”
So if you are a minigolf fan with an entrepreneurial bent and/or deep pockets, here is your chance to run your own course – and one steeped in minigolf history.
Interested parties are to invited complete an Expressions of Interest form by 12pm on Friday, February 17.
Planning an event or wedding in 2017: Hire a minigolf course from Putterfingers for friendly service and a lot of putting fun!
Coming very soon is Ghetto Golf at the Cairns Brewery, Baltic Triangle, Liverpool. The new venue is billed as ‘Crazy Golf, Cocktails, DJ’s & Street Food set in a Ghetto Wonderland.’ The brewery has had a creative makeover featuring a blend of graffiti and skate punk humour. We particularly like the industrial silo turned into a rude Minion.
As new minigolf courses go, this one is pretty cool. Abandoned breweries are generous on space, so Ghetto Golf is a full 18-hole course and by all accounts it’s pretty bonkers. There’s going to be a DJ suspended above the minigolfers in a treehouse, a PacMan room dedicated to vintage video games, and every available surface is covered in spray paint graffiti. There are 3 bars, hot dogs, cocktails and a cool vibe.
Ghetto Golf say on their Facebook page: “We’re a few mates who wanted to create an experience and a venue that people wouldn’t forget.
We’ve carried out every aspect of work on the abandoned brewery ourselves. It’s been hard, but we’ve loved every second!!”
Ghetto Golf should be opening in the next two or three weeks or when they run out of spray paint, whichever comes first. For more details check their Facebook page.
Approval for Crazy Golf course in York
Council planners have recommended approval for a new crazy golf course next to York’s Designer Outlet. It has been up before the planners because it will mean the loss of 26 parking spaces at the Designer Outlet, but if given the final green light it should add more to the area than it takes away. We would say that, being minigolf freaks.
Designs for the course’s 12 holes include ones based on York landmarks like the Bar walls, St Mary’s Abbey, Clifford’s Tower and a Viking longboat. Obstacles will include a 1.4 metre high Viking helmet, a set of stocks and a hut resembling one of the buildings on The Shambles.
We’ll keep you posted here on our blog about any more new minigolf courses we hear about!
For all your minigolf needs – putters, balls, obstacles, holes, and course hire or purchase, browse the Putterfingers website for the best deals and prompt service! www.putterfingers.co.uk
East Lancashire has acquired brand new minigolf and short game practice courses at Prairie Sports Village in Burnley. The golf training centre and driving range has added the £75,000 new facilities with funding from Sport England. It features a 9-hole minigolf course with holes inspired by famous golf holes around the world. It comes in addition to the £2.5 million Prairie Sport’s Village’s existing driving range, bar and bistro, 3G artificial turf floodlit football pitch and modern changing rooms. Putterfingers supplied a selection of putters for the courses via European Golf, the artificial turf specialists, who laid the putting surfaces.
At the official launch, Burnley Mayor Counc. Jeff Sumner said “This is the final piece of the jigsaw and it looks fantastic. There’s a big difference from how it looked a few years ago and it is a privilege to have these facilities on our doorstep.”
Paul Foster, Burnley Leisure’s Head of Development, said “It provides another activity that we can now offer to families with young children, women and young people who want to have a go at playing the sport. We want to encourage as many people as possible to come along and play mini golf.”
Putting superchamp Michael Smith has spoken to minigolfnews.com in a full-length interview. What we all want to know, of course, is does he give away any of the secret sauce that has built his minigolfing success to its current level of dominance? Let’s pick a few points from the interview to build a profile of Michael Smith: the man behind the putter.
He played golf for a decade and got down to a handicap of 11.
He is a fiction writer and is hoping to complete a fantasy series and a political romance trilogy.
He is studying criminology at the University of Leicester.
In his own words
On his dominance: ‘I have a number of rivals who are technically excellent and extremely motivated who, to quote Alex Ferguson, want to knock me off my perch. People try and find different ways to beat me and it will be inevitable that at some point, I will have a dip in form. There are four or five people that are capable right now of being number one and I genuinely expect to lose it at some point.’
On match preparation: ‘I have a course note book for every course and that will include putt maps, not as detailed as some others, but it will include the putts I will get most often. I rarely look at them because of the 45 second rule to take the shot, by the time I get the book out of my pocket, turn the pages, look at it, I find it difficult to keep to that time limit. If I have enough practice time, I can commit things to memory.’
On his putter: ‘I get a lot of banter about my putter from fellow pros, saying it looks cheap, horrible, tatty. I’ve been very lucky that not only do I like the putter but it feels comfortable. There is no way on earth that I am going to change it. I have this fear that like Stephen Hendry, when he lost his snooker cue, he was never the same player again. I’m never planning on changing it.’
On his potential retirement: ‘Winning the WCGC meant I protected the ranking and gave me a new lease of life. It took some of the pressure away and was the key factor for me to keep going. I take things tournament by tournament now, which I think gives me a little more freedom.’
On what keeps him going: ‘I foolishly set myself the goal of overtaking Tim Davies as Britain’s greatest ever minigolfer. If I knew at the time all the effort and energy that would take, I wouldn’t have set it. Through good or bad, I am committed to seeing that through. There is one record I am after. Tim finished seven different years ranked number one, I currently only have five. I would love to at least get to 6 and then try and level it.’
Football celebrities have given minigolf’s image a boost by being snapped playing it in between matches. Paul Pogba and Gareth Bale have both wielded putters for the cameras in the last few days. Bale is a self-confessed golf nut who has a fantasy 3-hole golf course in his garden, and wants to be a golfer when he retires from football. World’s most expensive footballer Pogba was spotted at Manchester’s Paradise Island course in the Trafford Centre, probably trying to forget about Man United’s performances this year.
Newcastle city centre bowling alley Lane 7 is to open a crazy golf course. They offered a pop-up course for 12 weeks in 2014 which proved popular, and manager Charlie Snow is glad to see its return, which was overdue: ‘There was a lot of disappointed punters when we ended the golf the last time round. Its return is long overdue and we’re pretty certain it’ll be in big demand for the upcoming Christmas party season.’
Some videos have emerged of the course we reported on last week, created as part of Scotland’s Festival of Architecture. It is set up near the first tee of the Old Course at St Andrews for the Dunhill Links Championship.