Putting tech (and booze) in putt-putt

Putting tech (and booze) in putt-putt

10 March 2022 0 By Facto Edizioni

/ The revolution comes to miniature golf with Puttshack /

The spark of inspiration came from a meeting between Topgolf founders, Steven and Dave Jolliffe, and Adam Breeden, who had already brought to market a more social version of darts, ping pong and bowling with brands such as the Fight Club darts bars or the Bounce ping pong bars. Could miniature golf also be remade in a more social, adult-only entertainment offer? Could miniature golf bars succeed?

The answer came with a first venue of Puttshack in London in 2018 and it met with immediate success, so much so that it soon replicated with three more venues in London. The format was exported in the US in mid-2021 and it currently counts two open locations there, in Atlanta and Chicago, with more coming soon in Miami, Boston, Houston, Scottsdale, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Denver in 2022, as well as Nashville and a second Atlanta location in 2023.

But what makes Puttshack so different from other miniature golf courses, and what is the foundation of this success? First of all there’s technology. The game uses a patented solution called Trackaball, which, as the name implies, tracks each ball during the game, keeping track of how many times it’s been hit, how far it has moved, and so on, basically automating all scoring. But the system does more than that, as it also keeps record of previous scores obtained by the same player in other games, on different days: it compiles leader boards and lets recurring players know how they have done on the same hole in the past. It has bonuses and hazards, which add a new level of fun to the game and changes the way groups play miniature golf. 

But the other important aspect is the social one, transforming a family entertainment into an activity targeted to adults. Puttshack locations are bars first and foremost, where people can let down their hair and have a good time on a night out. Drink is a strong component, and so is music, with in-venue curated playlists, DJs and live events: “We’ve carved out our dream of creating a vibrant social entertainment brand that ensures music isn’t an afterthought – no way! Our unstoppable passion for music fuels our associate and guest experience,” reads the company’s website.

To suit this new target audience, Puttshack’s holes are different from anything you have seen before. There is an interactive quiz hole, a giant pinball-themed hole, a giant beer pong game hole and catch-a-duck fairground game hole, among other things. And the rules have been turned upside-down to make the game more fun and social: players win by taking the most shots, rather than fewest. This gives everyone an equal chance, making the game more accessible without removing the competitive aspect.

“We developed Puttshack so that golf could be fun for everyone,” said Steven Jolliffe. “Even at…

Continue reading Games & Parks Industry February 2022, page 29

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