New game combines power with putting


by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Posted on November 23, 2009 at 7:23 PM

There's a new game in town that combines power with putting, as in putt putt.

It's art meets sports meets physics. Its creators are a group of local artists challenging mini golf as you know it.

Inside a non-descript, dingy, old building on Capitol Hill is a workshop of sorts. There are power saws, drills, and strange contraptions that seem to belong in popular mechanics. It looks like some kind of rogue manufacturing plant. But the only thing they're manufacturing here is fun. It's part industrial arts, and part putt-putt.

"We're taking the rules of mini golf and playing them kinda fast and loose," said Rusty Oliver, one of the creators of Smash Putt, a temporary putt putt course on Capitol Hill. "It's expressive. It's just a way of having fun but with just very elaborate toys."

At one hole, players catapult their putt into a castle. Your partner mans the foot pedal. Timing is everything.

"Breathing's relaxed... be the ball. YES!" Success for Oliver.

Then there's the French inspired hole. Your opponent hops a motorized scooter then leans back to start the motor which powers a turntable that shoots your ball hopefully in the direction of the hole.

Oliver says Smash Putt is not so much about winning or losing, it's just playing games in its purest, albeit industrial form.

"People don't get to author their own experiences very much. This is deliberately a lot more open ended," he said.

The final hole has you putt up a ramp then down a plinko field, at which point the saws take over. One of three saws shoots your ball back out onto the green where you then send it up a ramp to its final hole, where a drill makes what is the real last hole, in your ball.

"It's kinda like an old school carnival where things aren't really polished. The carnies might be trying to swipe your nickel," said Oliver.

But it;s not game over yet. Before you leave there's the driving range. No club needed for this, but Oliver's small yet powerful neumatic cannon.

"It's an old CO2 fire extinguisher which is wrapped in fiberglass, so it's explosion-proof," he said.

The goal here is to hit something, anything. Like one of the old pianos in the back of the room.

"There's nothing better than putting on a good show and seeing people have a really good time," said Oliver.

Smash Putt's inaugural run - a smash hit.

This upcoming weekend is Smash Putt's final weekend. The artists are now looking for a more permanent home. You can learn more about Smash Putt at