Rewriting the rules of mini golf

Puttshack is an upscale, tech-infused attraction experience that aims to ‘rewrite the rules of mini golf’ – pairing modern technology with crazy courses for a unique guest experience. With three London locations currently, Puttshack successfully opened the doors of its first US location in Atlanta in April, and plans to open further locations in Oak Brook, Illinois, and Miami soon after. Bryony Andrews, editor of Park World’s sister publication GlobalAmusements&, spoke to Joe Vrankin, Puttshack’s CEO, to find out more.

The inspiration for Puttshack came about when the Jolliffe brothers partnered up with Adam Breeden to take the best parts of mini golf – the fun and the accessibility – to a whole other level. Breeden was formerly responsible for turning table tennis and darts into entertainment concepts Bounce and Flight Club. “Puttshack is the perfect combination of Steve and Dave’s brilliance in creating a tech-forward fun, entertaining game combined with Adam’s skill in designing an incredibly upscale, high-energy vibe,” said Joe.

“Being able to work with this team again, many of whom were also involved with the launch of Topgolf, is incredible and definitely a highlight. We all believe wholeheartedly in Puttshack and can’t wait for everyone to experience it.”

Together, they’ve reinvented the game for the young adult audience. “At Puttshack, the highest score wins with chances for bonus points throughout, and there’s no cheating because everything is tracked for by our patented Trackaball technology in the golf ball,” explained Joe. “The courses are one-of-a-kind and just a lot of fun – there is a beer pong hole, a roulette hole, a true/false hole and more – and all this is matched by global food and beverage offerings and incredible atmosphere that is Instagram-worthy everywhere you look.”

Expansion plans
With three locations currently operating in London, UK, Puttshack also successfully opened the doors of its first US location in Atlanta in April. The team plans to open further locations in Oak Brook, Illinois, and Miami soon after. “We also recently signed a lease in Nashville’s The Gulch neighborhood at the site of the old Gibson Guitar factory and are preparing to announce multiple new US locations that plan to open in 2022,” Joe revealed.

Working through the pandemic
When the pandemic hit, Puttshack had not yet opened any US locations, but its London locations took a hit. However, the company turned a potential setback into an opportunity for recon. “[The situation] positioned us well to closely watch the hospitality and entertainment space, gain insights from our London locations, be flexible in our strategy and approach, and take advantage of the real estate opportunities that have become available during this time.”

Puttshack is well designed to ensure guests and associates feel and are safe. The tech-driven game is low-touch, and people can be spaced apart through staggered start times and the size of venues. “Additionally, our team is diligent on staying up to date with and adhering to all local, state and CDC guidelines as everything opens more and more,” Joe said.

When asked how he thinks COVID-19 will change visitor entertainment moving forward, Joe maintained a positive outlook. “I believe we will continue to see changes in the entertainment and hospitality space, but our team is supported and encouraged to continue innovating and create memorable experiences for our guests every time they come to Puttshack, and which will keep them coming back. People want to have fun and experience things together – that’s not going to change.”

Visitor demographics
So what makes Puttshack stand-out for fun-seekers in 2021? Joe believes the best thing about Puttshack is that at its core, it is accessible and fun for every guest. Notably, however, the venue evolves throughout the day and into the evening. It’s very well suited for families and corporate events during the day, and then becomes 21+ later into the evenings, transforming the space into an upscale nightclub vibe. “This change in vibe is what attracts different demographics throughout the day and is really part of Adam’s genius – it makes Puttshack stand out as a leader in this space,” explained Joe.

Key to Puttshack’s appeal is the way it uses technology and interactivity to keep players engaged. “It sounds simple, but it starts with the ball,” said Joe. “Powered by our leading patented Trackable technology, our golf balls are essentially mini-computers that keep score for you, follow you as you play throughout each of our unique courses and ultimately eliminate chances to cheat when playing. The ball knows when you putt, if you pick it up and try to move it in any way, if you win bonus points or lose points at each hole and more, creating a unique and modern way of playing mini golf. Not having to carry a scorecard also keeps your hands free for drinks!”

Additionally, the technology allows guests to just come in and play – they can have a fun, casual game or make it very competitive, which makes it accessible to all types of visitor. “At Puttshack, we are looking to bring everyone in to play. We really lean into what we call our Triple Threat – our guests enjoy an innovative, tech-infused competitive game that uses our patented Trackaball technology, which is matched with world-class, globally inspired food and drink and all-around cool vibe that creates a one-of-a-kind experience.”

2021 and beyond
Puttshack saw really strong numbers and positive responses when its London locations were able to safely open during 2020, Joe reported, and the new Atlanta location is already proving a great success. “People are craving experiences together, and Puttshack provides an elevated experience that you can’t find anywhere else. We’re pumped for what this year – and beyond – will bring.”

In May, Puttshack announced it had completed a growth capital round of $60 million led by Promethean Investments, with the aim of allowing the team to continue securing real estate opportunities as it expands into more markets. “This latest round in funding will allow us to continue our strategic growth – identifying and securing unique, prime Puttshack locations in top markets across the US,” Joe revealed further. “We are planning to open four-to-six locations next year with the goal of having nine locations open by the end of 2022. Stay tuned – much more to come!”

“When you start with a great concept and surround yourself with an incredible team, success will come,” Joe concluded. “I’m really excited for where we’re going and what this team is capable of.”

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