‘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!
An evening at the local mini golf course is fun and challenging, and a great way to get to know your date. It’s a bit of a classic dating idea over in the USA, tinged perhaps with 1950s-type nostalgia. It’s an innocent pastime that breaks the ice and brings out people’s personalities. And it gives you something to do with your hands while you’re fighting those first- or second-date nerves. Meeting someone new is an emotional roller-coaster at the best of times, so why not simply do something fun?
Crazy golf is affordable – much cheaper than taking your date to a restaurant or even a film these days. It fosters social interaction, which is what you are after on a date, right? Almost anyone can play it as well. You might think naked bear wrestling is a cool thing to do with your date, but they might not be quite as enthusiastic. Minigolf is a tried and tested way to have simple and relatively safe fun together.
Wear sun protection – a wide-brimmed hat, or slather yourself with sun cream. You’ll be out on the course for a while and getting fried to a crisp would spoil the fun (unless it’s a ploy to have your date apply lotion to your shoulders. If so, well played.)
Don’t be over-competitive. You’re on the minigolf course to get to know someone, not just to beat them at minigolf. Celebrate their good shots as well as your own.
You can make a friendly wager at the beginning, though, like buying a drink or an ice cream afterwards.
Wear trainers, sandals or flat shoes. You know, suitable footwear for playing minigolf. No boots or high heels.
If you want a quick date, choose a 9-hole course. If you want a more extended meeting, choose an 18-hole course. If Cupid’s arrow has at least left his bow and is on its way, then go round again!
We all know that minigolf is fun, but is it actually good for you? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’ Read this brief summary of the benefits of playing minigolf to find out just how good minigolf is for you, your kids and your family.
1. Playing minigolf can burn off 300 calories an hour
That is comparable to an hour’s brisk walk. An adult will burn around 300 calories an hour and it’s good for your kids too, giving them a good cardiovascular workout.
2. Social skills
Kids will learn sportsmanship and fair play on the minigolf course, coupled with following rules and being respectful to others. It is also a good lesson in self-control and perseverance to get a result. Healthy competitiveness is the order of the day out on the minigolf course.
3. Educational benefits
Hand-eye coordination is required for a good putt. Kids can develop it while having a fun time. They can learn the logic of good form and technique: a good stance and a good swing lead to better results.
4. It isn’t Xbox!
Fresh air and free movement in the real physical world takes them away from their mobiles, video games and computers. Minigolf isn’t virtual reality, it IS reality! And fun reality too!
5. Family bonding
Families often don’t get enough time together engaging in fun activities. A trip to the local crazy golf course (or a Putterfingers hire for the garden) as a family can strengthen bonds and allow family members to compete in a fun atmosphere during their leisure time. Funny how in family photos from the minigolf course, everybody is always grinning their heads off.
So there are the top 5 ways minigolf is good for you, your kids and your family. Hire a Putterfingers course for a weekend to find out how much fun it is!
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!
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!
A complete Putterfingers crazy golf course fits into the back of an average family car, so you can drive it wherever you want to set up. No power supply is required, so in theory you could set it up on top of Ben Nevis, although obviously that would be mad. Still, it’s not called crazy golf for nothing.
Our courses are best suited to any reasonably level indoor or outdoor surface, anywhere you choose.
2. Easy Assembly
No bulky wooden or metal frames to lay down. Our interlocking 1m x 1m astro grass tiles form the playing surface. Transform your garden, indoor room, office or event venue into a crazy golf course in 30 minutes!
3. Tricky Obstacles
Think our obstacles look innocent? Heh heh. It takes a steady hand to tackle the curves of the Volcano and just the right amount of speed on the ball to negotiate the twists of the Acapulco. They can challenge all ages and experience levels of minigolfer.
4. Hire a Course by Post
You don’t have to be beside the seaside to enjoy our crazy golf! Our portable crazy golf hire transports easily via courier to your chosen venue so that you can enjoy for as long as you like -a one day event, a weekend hire or long term if you require.
5. Any Weather (even all round British weather!)
Not just for outside, the portable crazy golf course is rubber backed and won’t mark floors indoors. Have you an unused space – unutilised sports court, school assembly hall, hotel atrium, roof top terrace, empty office? For outdoors, rain doesn’t stop play because the tiles drain through the holes in the bottom!
7. Modular Flexibility
Play Tetris with minigolf tiles! The modular nature of our courses means you can build each hole the way you want, to suit the venue and floor space available. Whether it’s 4 holes or 9 holes, the flexibility means they can fit almost any space!
8. Nice people to deal with!!
We always have availability, the team at Putterfingers are friendly and efficient, we strongly believe in our concept – so why not let us help you with something different at your event this year?