This isn't your grandfather's minigolf. This is miniature golf reimagined: a cutting-edge jewel box of a course, located in the heart of San Francisco, that combines high artistry with motorized devices, mechanical gizmos, and the latest in high-tech to create an indoor, urban course that will consistently amaze and entertain.
With a Jules Verne meets Art Deco aesthetic (with a heaping helping of steampunk thrown in), we are creating a courseful of interactive kinetic sculptures. Because we don't have the kind of space typically found on a suburban course, we're going vertical, not horizontal, designing mechanisms for lifting balls skyward (because steep ramps lead to out-of-control golf shots).
A sampling of some of our designs: the1906 earthquake hole, featuring buildings that shake and rumble as you putt past; an "undersea" hole where the ball triggers a series of motion-sensitive LEDs as it rolls by; an Archimedes' screw that lifts the golf ball 12 feet of the ground before depositing it on a ramp, where it bounces off a series of drums, bells, and cymbals; a "marble-maze" style platform, mounted over servos that are controlled by a putter that acts as a joystick.
An ambitious project like this is pricey: Wood, copper, steel, motors, gears, lights, 130 motion-sensitive LEDs ($4000+), a CNC machine (a $15,000 Shopbot) for computer-controlled milling, computers, Arduinos, software, speakers, and on and on.
And of course, there's labor. A team of nine has been toiling away on this project since mid-2013. At this point, we can see the finish line through the smoke and sawdust. But we need a cash infusion if we're going to complete this. We're counting on our Kickstarter friends can push us over the top.
Note that the golf course at Urban Putt will be accompanied by a restaurant and bar, which we are also building from scratch. There's a reason why there are no miniature golf courses in San Francisco: The economics of a stand-alone course simply don't work. We will need revenue from food and beverage to make sure Urban Putt can be an ongoing concern. The Kickstarter funds are specifically earmarked for construction of the golf course. The money for the food-service portion is coming from private investors.
Risks and challenges
Ah, yes...the risks.We start with money. In San Francisco, everything is over-the-top pricey. The city has hit us with the following fees just for the privilege of opening our doors: $126,000 in Transit Development Impact (for the extra strain we will place on the public transit systems); $56,000 wastewater fee; more than $50,000 in building permits; $500,000+ in construction costs, including structural work and ADA compliance. Ultimately if we can't raise enough to open our doors, then all our good work will have gone for naught. At this point, it looks like we'll be able to cover our costs, but we're not there yet.
Because we're creating something entirely new, there are no blueprints for this. We create models in software, do all the early conceptualization and protoyping in foam core and wood, and other materials. Sometimes execution doesn't match up, which leads to delays, cost overruns, and sometimes even having to scrap a promising idea. The whole process has taken a lot longer than we had anticipated because of the novelty of the endeavor. The biggest risk here is that we won't get everything finished in time.
The ongoing risk is the same as any new business, especially one that hasn't been tried before: will it catch on, will people like it, will it pay for itself? We've done as much research as possible and believe this is a viable business. Time will prove us right or wrong.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)