Get in the hole!

By | November 28, 2018

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.

9 thoughts on “Get in the hole!

  1. Brig Bother Post author

    In that first pic, there are green dots to show you the trajectory you should aim for to get into the green bonus “supertube”, try and avoid the big red hazard, the “flippers” light up as the ball hits them, each of the four pockets carries a small bonus or penalty written beneath them.

    In the third pic a question comes up on screen, hitting it through the correct tunnel earns points. Or you can attempt to ignore the question and hit it straight up the tricky central ramp.

    Probably the cleverest hole is one set on a half pipe with some hazard strips in places across it with some bridges. Your options are to play it safe with a fairly easy shot across some bridges over those hazard holes, or go for the more difficult and impressive zig zag shot, which if you hit correctly will land the ball in a supertube halfway up the opposite side. Neat risk/reward factor.

  2. Andrew, the Yank

    This is ENTIRELY my jam.

    I hope something like this comes to America.

  3. David

    That does look fun, but I agree the price is a bit steep (now if it was for 18 holes, maybe you could justify it a little more as a one-off). This is run by some of the same people who do Topgolf, so I wouldn’t be at all shocked if this comes to the US at some point (they also have a ping pong thing called Wonderball that looks interesting as well)…

  4. Steve Williams

    I went here a few months ago for a leaving do (helped by the fact it’s only ten minutes’ walk from my office). It is good fun, and the automated scoring removes one of the most tedious aspects of this kind of thing, though it does get very busy and we ended up waiting at holes for our go. That said, that’s not much different to most mini-golf experiences and the timed element does mean you’re not hanging around for ever.

    They do seem to be selling it as just as much a bar and a restaurant as they are a golf course.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I think what’s quite interesting is that we were so intrigued about what came next I don’t think we looked up at the scores much, we were sort of vaguely aware of how well we were doing and also well aware it was keeping track for us so I don’t think I had a proper look until towards the end, although I found myself glancing at the clock (on the scoreboard) quite regularly, just not taking much else in.

      369 in 22 shots is the score to beat on the Emerald Course, anyone that goes in future.

  5. Chris M. Dickson

    So I was thinking about this in the context of shopping malls. Lots of big shops are closing, shopping malls are struggling to fill the space back up. I don’t know if this is in a shopping mall or just next to one, but this is something I could see in shopping malls’ empty spaces – and there have got to be far cheaper places to rent in lower-end malls which might permit cheaper play. I might play this once at £7.50 but £12.50 seems right out.

    How would you compare this to a game of ten pin bowling? OK, you only get between nine shots and nine minutes’ worth of fun here, but people are used to getting the time it takes to bowl between twelve and thirty bowls in ten pin for their money. (In both ten pin and this, the irony is the better you are at playing, the less you get to play for the same amount of money! It’s the opposite of arcade games…) It occurs to me that you’re getting something somewhat comparable for your money. A game of ten pin in the upmarket All Star Lanes at peak times is £10 so that’s where this might settle down.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      For me more fun than 10PB (and it’s a pretty apt comparison, it’s the same people behind All-Star Bowling I gather) and actually you’re right, it takes about the same time to play. Up to five people can go around as a group and you’d be looking at 30-40 minutes like that, so about the same as bowling.

      It’s in the recent mall extension next to the recently built John Lewis and it takes up quite a large area. There are two more opening up in the near future, one in ‘Central London’ and one at Lakeside.

      They’ve recently opened a table tennis room in Cambridge’s Grafton Centre.


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