One of the pleasures of being British is doing things a bit differently from the rest of the world. Miniature Golf Day is celebrated in the USA and everywhere else on the 21st of September. But National Miniature Golf Day happens on the second Saturday in May and is celebrated by minigolf geeks around the British Isles. This year it falls on the 8th of May. To thicken the plot, the second Saturday in May is also celebrated in the USA – but some sources call it National Miniature Golf Day and others call it Miniature Golf Day. Which is great, really. Because there are two opportunities a year to celebrate our fantastic sport!
The 8th of May this year is the day to head down to your nearest mini golf course, grab a putter and take on the challenge of negotiating your ball into the hole via various obstacles in the lowest number of shots you can. To find a course near you, Google ‘adventure golf’, ‘crazy golf’ or ‘mini golf’ in your area. There are all kinds of courses ranging from big, lush theme park-style adventure golf courses featuring pirates, dinosaurs and lost civilisations to smaller, more basic courses both at the seaside and inland.
But googling might not show you all the courses near you. The most complete list of mini-golf courses in the British Isles is without a doubt Richard Gottfried’s blog. He and his wife Emily have been playing every course they can find for years, on what they call the Crazy World Of Minigolf Tour. At the time of writing this, they have played a staggering 958 mini-golf courses, some of which are abroad but 919 of which have been in the British Isles. The blog chronicles their adventure by recording each visit. It stretches back years, so not all the courses they have played are still there, but many will be. Best to check it’s still there before heading off to a course you see on their blog! Check out their crazy adventure here.
May is also National Golf Month – meaning ‘big golf’, i.e. golf played over acres of land with a variety of clubs and questionable fashion sense. Putterfingers have just expanded their range of golf training aids for these hardy folk. For gifts for avid golfers or to improve your own game, check them out here.
This National Miniature Golf Day we have had the pleasure of catching up with Puttstars, Golf Operations Manager, Andy Johnson.
Andy and the Puttstars team at Hollywood Bowl Group, have had the challenge of not only navigating their business around the Covid-19 safety measures, but also the opening of 2 new Puttstars venues, in the midst a Pandemic. No mean feat!
Andy shares the experience at Puttstars and their plans for the future.
You have successfully managed to launch new Puttstars venues during the Pandemic, how has this gone?
“It was a challenge, given that we usually ensure all our team are given some time training with an experienced team member, obviously this was very limited due to the restrictions we faced, however, I have been pleased with the teams and how they have handled the opening weeks. On top of this, the teams have had to operate in an environment where hand sanitising, and face masks are the norm, meaning that extra operational pressures have been put onto the teams.”
What piece of technology could you have not lived without at Puttstars?
“CRM, it’s really important to use to get to know and understand our customers, not only can we then offer them products that are desirable for them, it helps us to communicate with our customer base when required, and to push offers when trading conditions are tough.”
Has Covid-19 brought any positive changes to the business?
Where do you see the role of mini-golf in the competitive socialising market moving forward?
“I believe that as people move towards more experience-based leisure time, mini-golf is well placed to offer this to a range of different customers groups, whether they are families or students. For us offering the playing experience on the courses alongside a fully licensed bar, with diner and amusements makes us a great place for people to socialise and spend time with their friends and family.”
As a customer, what you can expect from a visit to Puttstars at present?
“A memorable experience for the right reasons hopefully, we set out trying to design holes which offer intrigue and interest and are fun for everyone to play, we have tried to create an environment where everyone is welcome and can enjoy the space, we also believe that our offering is incredibly good value for money.”
What is your best score playing Puttstars Mini Golf?
“7800, which I scored on only my 3rd round, I have been unable to better this since, much to my annoyance, and despite lots of attempts.”
What is your favourite mini golf hole at the venues?
“I don’t have one favourite, we have 27 holes within each centre that are bespoke to us and can’t be found anywhere else in the world, we spent a lot of time working with our course designers to make the playing experience a unique one.”
What do Christmas parties at Puttstars look like this year?
“I think that’s partially a question for the government, depending on what the rules are on group gatherings, without COVID we would be offering a package that contained golf, food and drink with trophies for the winners among other things, however, I think that restrictions this year will limit us. That said we will still be offering great value deals whatever the restrictions, check out our website for the latest information.”
What does the future hold for Puttstars?
“Our early trading has been very positive even launching in these unusual times, so we are confident that we can continue on our proposed path to open future sites and keep expanding our brand. Keep an eye out near you for a new Puttstars opening soon.”
Thanks to Andy for taking the time to give us an update.
At Putterfingers, we supply a whole range of mini golf equipment both to trade and for home use. Check out our website for portable crazy golf courses to hire or buy, for putters, balls, obstacles and more.
This Mental Health Awareness Week is focused on the experience of loneliness. The Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Mental Health in the Pandemic‘ research found loneliness has contributed to higher levels of distress as a result of people being unable to connect with one another.
At Putterfingers, we are big advocates of the role mini golf can play in improving the mental health of players. We have blogged previously about how crazy golf can reduce stress levels, an issue closely linked to mental health. But the game is also an excellent way to connect with others as well as benefit mental health as a whole.
The New Economics Foundation developed ‘The Five Ways to Wellbeing’, a set of mental health messages, which when practiced, improves the mental health and wellbeing of the whole population. Mental health charity, Mind, have clearly outlined ‘The Five Ways to Wellbeing’ concept and here is how we strongly believe that mini golf can fit into this framework.
5 Ways to Wellbeing
Social relationships are important for maintaining a healthy mind. Mini golf can offer a social activity that brings people together in a relaxed and informal environment. As a sport that is played as an individual rather than in a team, participants can be social as much or as little as they wish, whilst still connecting with others.
The beauty of mini golf is that it is a challenge for everyone – there is no right or wrong way to do it. Overcoming obstacles, quite literally (!), brings people together, which is why it is so often used for team building activities.
“Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups.” (Mind.org)
You don’t need to hit the gym or break a sweat to enjoy a bit of physical activity. Mini golf is a slower-paced activity that is suitable for anyone, regardless of age or physical fitness. Walking has a huge benefit to mental and physical health, walking around a miniature golf course gives a purpose and more enjoyment to that walk.
Putting, whether in ‘Big’ golf, pitch and putt, adventure golf or crazy golf, certainly uses the muscles on our arms. But engaging with your core muscles will help you to control the club according to Tom Watson’s article “Putt With Your Gut”.
Living in the moment, or being aware of the present, is the third concept of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. Taking a moment to enjoy the environment around you is something that all of us leading busy lives can benefit from remembering.
Crazy golf has traditionally been a seaside pastime and you will often still find a course at coastal resorts. If you do take the time to visit one of these courses by the sea, take the time to notice your surroundings, the sea breeze, the seagulls, perhaps if the sound of the waves if you are lucky.
Many parks are also home to a miniature golf course or pitch and putt. So, a great opportunity to get back to nature and take some time for yourself.
According to Mind, learning a new skill can enhance with self-esteem. It also encourages more social interaction, which as humans is one our basic needs. Improved self-worth is an important factor for maintaining good mental health.
Mini golf could be that new skill you are looking for. It is such an accessible activity that literally anyone can get involved. It is fun to try and overcome the obstacles of the course, there are a few individuals who have mastered the tricks (Richard & Emily Gottfried, Marc Chapman!), but for the majority of us success is based on problem-solving and a little bit of luck. Who knows, you could be the next Minigolf Champion!
People who engage in activities to help others are “more likely to rate themselves as happy” (Mind.org).
Getting involved with a cause or community group and help your feeling of belonging and to support other elements of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing such as connecting with others.
As mini golf is an activity for all, yet still competitive, it is a great contender for fundraising activities. It’s been a staple of fundraising in the USA for a long time and is beginning to get some traction over here. It’s a fun, social activity that offers ample opportunity for charity branding to promote the cause and raise awareness and money.
Read some of our blogs on Mini Golf for Fundraising and see how charities such as Global Media & Entertainment’s ‘Make Some Noise’ charity has used Putterfingers mini golf for their charity day.
Don’t just take our word for it, The British Medical Journal blogged back in 2018, how shorter play versions of ‘big’ golf, such as pitch and putt, adventure golf, crazy golf or miniature golf, is an appealing introduction to the wider benefits of golf on mental, and physical health.
If you are planning a wellbeing event for your company, school, university or local community, then why not book mini golf as part of the event activities. We offer a variety of size courses which are available to hire or buy. There are options to brand the courses and obstacles with your logo and hashtags.
As I was perusing my daily golf and mini golf news, I stumbled upon what I think is a fantastic website for parents called Day Out with the Kids. https://www.dayoutwiththekids.co.uk/
From suggesting outings in popular counties and towns, to recommending activities for the month or for a bank holiday, to the first annual Family Favourite Awards (for 2018), this website is packed with some marvellous ideas to inspire you for a family day out.
But as I was reading Lisa O’Keefe’s recent blog on our (=Putterfingers’) favourite topic of mini golf (https://www.dayoutwiththekids.co.uk/blog/10-best-mini-golf-courses-in-the-uk), I began to think that whilst it is all fun and good to entertain the kids, us grown-ups need a bit of a reward for all this kid-focused attention! Ms. O’Keefe wrote a great and thorough blog, but I have decided to add my two cents, and sincerely hope she won’t be too offended with my bloggy appendix (and yes, I like to adjectify and verb words).
There some very exciting pieces of news coming from Dinofalls in Manchester. First, Dinofalls is looking to expand its mini golf course to 36 holes, and is currently awaiting planning approval. They have not yet divulged if the dinosaur theme will continue or if they have other exciting plans. Well, let them keep us in suspense, as I move to the second bit of news: on Mother’s Day, for mums coming to play mini golf with the children, the magic password to get a free glass of Prosecco is “mums are roarsome”. Enjoy it mums, you certainly deserve it!
And the third news titbit is that for the month of April ‘Kids Go Free’ at Dinofalls (which in no way implies that they are currently enslaved by us tyrannical parents). Do read the fine print though please: the offer is free entry for one child with one paying adult and is valid from only Monday to Friday and you have to arrive BEFORE 10:00 am. No problem! Simply take the kids out for some mini golf in the morning, and in the afternoon propose another fun activity: The Adventurously Great Sock Hunt. Tell your kids this activity is a cross between a mystery, a puzzle, and a treasure hunt, and get them to track down and match all the mismatched socks in your household; and as an FYI, this is an activity that even adults cannot finish or win.
(Though technically not in the UK) Jurassic Parrr in Limerick, Ireland, bills itself as “Ireland’s first and only UV Crazy Golf Course”. And my goodness there are some brains behind this operation! According to a Facebook post, they have recently come up with a brilliant option for children’s parties: partnering with Jump Lanes they offer 45 minutes of mini golf, 45 minutes of trampoline jumping, and 30 minutes in a party room. Some geniuses have certainly thought up this promotion! Your kids love the activities that will most certainly exhaust them, leaving you to bring them home, put them to bed, and then you get to put your feet up. And if you have taken someone else’s kids out, then make sure you are suitably rewarded.
However, if none of the mini and crazy golf places mentioned in Lisa O’Keefe’s blog or my blog are an option for you, then it may be time to contact your favourite portable mini / crazy golf company Putterfingers!
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!
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?
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!
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.
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.