Right, so not really gameshow related but likely of interest (and in fact I suspect could pretty easily form the basis of one), this afternoon I met up with a friend and went to Puttshack, newly opened at Westfield White City in London.
As you can see, it’s crazy golf, but with some really interesting ideas. All holes have the same basic objective – get the ball in the hole in the fewest amount of shots, but each hole usually has its own quirk – many are based on traditional and carnival games, like the bagatelle one up there, or the one where you try and launch the ball into a bucket in an approximation of beer pong. Or a hole with a true or false question to be answered by hitting the ball through a certain tunnel. Or one where you can even win a prize if you can a) get the ball round the loop (harder than it looks) then b) one-putt the ball into the hole from around 8-10 ft.
The scoring system is quite interesting as it’s not like “proper” golf, there’s a possible 60 points for a hole in one, with the point value of the hole dropping the more shots it takes you. However there are tricky green targets you can try and land in which will plop your ball straight down a ramp into the hole and hazards which not only cost you points but don’t always plop your ball out somewhere useful. There are various other small bonuses and penalties depending on your skill on getting the ball to go where you want it to go. Each person has sixty seconds to hole-out once they’ve begun or they score nothing.
Each ball has a chip inside it which can measure how many times it’s been hit and can register when it’s gone through a bonus or penalty and the scores are updated on a screen above each hole. If you play regularly, it will remember you from the details you put in and remind you where you’ve done well at holes before and your best score. Hopefully some sort of card system will be in place at some point as doing all your inputting of details at the booking machines can get a bit onerous.
If this sounds like fun – it is! It’s great fun. But. But but but. It’s fun that comes at a price and that price is £12.50 (except on Monday and Tuesday daytimes where it’s a much more reasonable £7.50). For this you get to play nine holes which takes a maximum of nine minutes. You really want to go as a group (and it’s been designed to be a social experience, to be fair), with a max group of five it’ll take you all about 45 minutes to get round which makes the price seem a bit better value on an individual basis even if you’re getting effectively the same game. Also whilst the site advertises four courses to play on, in reality it’s two courses largely duplicated with the occasional difference. And when we went to play that early afternoon we were only allowed to play one of those because the place wasn’t staffed to handle it until later.
These things are a shame. But it doesn’t stop those nine minutes being very entertaining, and the staff were friendly and the bar prices not too awful. They take bookings in advance, but early doors you should be able to rock up and get games (on whichever course they fancy opening first) in immediately. Worth a look if you’re in the area, it’s near the new John Lewis on the Westfield White City site.