Script Image Posted September 23, 2014; Text on Page Last Updated December 24, 2015:


Thank you for participating in golf.  With rising costs to maintain courses, fewer individuals can afford to practice on a consistent basis, and only professionals can take home the million dollar cash prize.  Our approach is to give more players access to the jackpot aspect, along with other alternatives – this calls for combining traditional elements of the sport with pinball, shooting gallery, mini-golf, casino, and carnival / arcade games.

To build a golf course in this fashion requires an area roughly the size of a practice / driving range, and current facilities could be retrofitted with the adjustments to be discussed henceforth.  This course contains however many holes the designer would prefer, some of which the ball funnels into easily from a given radius, whereas with others the hole is situated on a steep incline for higher difficulty.  Also, there needs to be an “out of bounds” lane, which any shots not ending up in a goal funnel into, similar to a “gutter ball” in bowling.  Wherever each ball goes, the score is recorded with an automated counter, similar to the way coins are tallied by machines; it is tabulated based on which hole the ball went through, on the way back to a central ball repository, such as with the apparatus used at the 18th hole in mini-golf.  In other words a series of tubes transports each ball and adds up the score.

From this foundation the object of the game can be modified in different modes:

JACKPOT MODE – In order to take home the million dollar cash prize a player must hit his or her ball into a hole location very challenging and unlikely to connect.  Players pay a fixed price for each attempt, similar to a slot machine, and the jackpot rises after each ball; the million dollar estimate may end up less or more in practice, based on how frequently the goal is achieved.  In terms of potential variations:
– Jackpot hole being available at all times vs. only every so often, as with pinball, needing to hit a sequence of targets to unlock the goal, with limited time before progress is reset.
– Smaller payouts for hitting intermediate objectives (instead of just one main jackpot), where each missed ball adds to the prize pool in different sections, based on where it lands, certain areas being more difficult / valuable.
– Every one on the course operating as an individual vs. players splitting the prize pool – for solo scoring keep track of who wins via colored ball and / or camera to trace shot trajectories, giving customers the option to obtain a copy of the video as a souvenir.

COMPETITION MODE – The object of the game is to outscore your opponent(s) – i.e., tournament format, with prize payouts for finishing on the leader board, etc.  Potential variations / mods (some can be used in combination, whereas others are mutually exclusive):
– Players get a certain number of shots to hit as many targets as possible, earning a score based on difficulty of the goals vs. who completes all holes with the least number of shots needed.
– Individual scoring vs. teams; also whether teammates all play the course simultaneously with competitors, where shots cancel each other out, etc.
– Goals open for a limited time after hitting certain targets, along with score “multipliers.”
– Capturing “zones” by hitting the ball into a certain area, claiming that zone until an opponent lands there to reclaim for themselves (points awarded for each zone you have in your team’s possession per round, for instance).
– Battle / attack mode – targeting opponents’ fortress, ship, etc. – i.e., target destroyed after enough hits, vs. having to hit all specific points of the target.
– Shooting gallery – targets approach gradually, and you need to hit them before they get too close, more points the further out you connect – set time limit vs. which team can withstand the longest.
– For smaller / enclosed spaces, in the event a regulation course is not feasible – targets potentially projected onto a wall / ceiling screen, incl. moving targets, w/ laser shot tracking technology.

Course design details:

– Designers are encouraged to add visual / audio dynamics, including potential themes such as dinosaurs / prehistoric, outer space / aliens, insects / gardening, pirates / nautical, haunted house / zombies, brand-name sponsors, incl. well known cartoons / cinema film franchise licensing.
– Lighting / sound effects to go along with the action, incl. screen displays for score / objectives.
– Targets / holes in some cases may be moving or opened / closed at different intervals.
– Not all holes are necessarily on ground level, incl. elevated platforms, multi-tiered greens, aerial targets, etc.
– Obstacles, such as a windmill, clock tower, animatronics (i.e., robotic animals eat the ball / knock it away), “ball captured” mechanism, incl. mole / gophers.
– No set size specifications, though each course should be built considering the how far average drives would travel at maximum, unless there is a planned “downhill” slope built in.  Jackpots need not be the furthest out to be challenging.  Different tee off points to accommodate junior/ senior / female players, accounting for respective driving distances; note – this will require careful shielding of any one in front of longer range players, similar to a baseball / batting cage, except with more narrow gaps.

You are welcome to submit additional modifications via one of our available outlets.  One notion is for modes outlined above to also be applied with equipment-types from other forms of the sport, with respective adjustments to dimensions and distance:
– Disc Golf (Flying Disc Sport)
– Footgolf (Soccer Ball from Traditional International Football)
– American Tackle Football (Punt, Pass, & Kick Contest)
– Tennis (Ball & Racquet Games)
– Basketball (Skill Shot Challenge)
– Target Shooting Gallery (Firearm / Rifle Range)

Calculations are requested to perform break-even analysis for such operations, for instance to determine the prize pool given price ranges, difficulty of the “jackpot,” operating expenses, etc..  In terms of the surface artificial turf would suffice for target / landing areas, though players should have the option to hit off natural grass, if possible.

Jurisdictions may prohibit cash payouts if they consider this a form of gambling.  Pinball houses have gotten around this by giving out gold, which winners take next door to exchange for currency (additional security needed).  Potentially regulators could consider having proceeds go to an “education lottery” fund, as states tend to allow gambling in that context.  Preferably expenses will be balanced out in that revenue covers just enough to sustain the operation / workers, so the highest percentage possible can be paid out to players.

References (Last Updated November 10, 2019):

USGA – United States Golf Association
PGA – Professional Golfers’ Association
International Golf Federation – History of Golf
USGA Museum – Golf History FAQ
PGA – Golf Instruction and Lessons
Golf Academy – Instruction
Golf Instruction Videos, Tips from Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers
Golf Digest – Golf Instruction
Kids Health – Safety Tips: Golf
American Society of Golf Course Architects – Course Design
USGA – Building and Maintaining the Truly Affordable Golf Course
Building Golf Courses in China – An Illegal and Booming Industry – Business Week
– Topgolf Tour
World Minigolf Sport Federation
History of Miniature Golf – Bearings
Build a Miniature Golf Course in Your Backyard – Boys’ Life
How to Build a Miniature Golf Course – This Old House
National Building Museum’s Mini-Golf Course – Harder Than It Looks – ASLA
Patent US5758992 – Golf Ball Elevator
Patent US5632687 – Golf Ball Dispensing Apparatus
Patent US6398662 – Moving Practice Green and Ball Pickup Apparatus
Patent US5980391 – Ball Lift Assembly for Ball Return System of a Bowling Alley
Internet Pinball Database
International Flipper Pinball Association
The Professional & Amateur Pinball Association
The History of Pinball Machines and Pintables – BMI Gaming
Pinball History – Pennyarcade
Made How – Pinball
11 Things You Didn’t Know About Pinball History – Popular Mechanics
The Mayor Who Took a Sledgehammer to NYC’s Pinball Machines – The Atlantic
Oakland Finally Un-Banning Pinball – Time
The Campaign to Destroy Pinball – Pacific Pinball
Pachinko Planet – What is Pachinko?
Pachinko Gateway
Electronics Manual for Vintage Pachinko Machines
Taxing Times for Pachinko as Japan Considers Casino Gamble – Reuters
How Japan Casinos Could Save $187 Billion Pinball Pastime – Bloomberg
– Japan: Official Resigns Over Postquake Pinball – NY Times
– The Hole Story: A History of Skee-Ball – Mental Floss
– The Puttskee
Redemption Games – Primetime Amusements
Carnival Depot – Carnival Games
Scam Alert – 7 Rigged Carnival Games – AARP
Carnival Games You Should Play (or Skip) – MSN
Man Loses Life Savings Playing Carnival Game, Wins Giant Banana – Time
– Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling
National Center for Responsible Gaming
American Gaming Association
History of Gambling in the United States – California State Library
Casino Operations Management – Gambling Info
Authority to License – Washington State Office of the Attorney General
– Legalized Games of Chance – New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs
About Golf – What is a Hole-in-One Contest?
The Price is Right – Hole In One (Or Two)
John Daly Makes a Hole-in-One, Wins a Car – PGA
– Seinfeld the Marine Biologist – Variety
Mitch Hedberg: Fore! – Comedy Central Stand-Up
Range War: A Day in the Life of a Picker – Weekly Alibi
American Dad – Stan of Arabia – Fun Trivia
– Caddyshack – Warner Bros.
– Happy Gilmore – Universal Pictures
Kirby’s Dream Course – Nintendo
Worms Crazy Golf – Team 17
Peggle – Popcap Games
Labyrinth – Brio
– Boules Sport