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We’re creating a fantastical indoor mini-golf course, tricked out with high-tech kinetic sculptures, robots & crazy vertical structures
We’re creating a fantastical indoor mini-golf course, tricked out with high-tech kinetic sculptures, robots & crazy vertical structures
427 backers pledged $53,883 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Urban Putt: Miniature golf like you've never seen it before project video thumbnail
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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.

Just added: A cotton t-shirt emblazoned with the Urban Putt logo. Be the pride of he links for just 30 bucks.
Just added: A cotton t-shirt emblazoned with the Urban Putt logo. Be the pride of he links for just 30 bucks.
Tracks for the Day of the Dead hole, created on the Shopbot.
Tracks for the Day of the Dead hole, created on the Shopbot.
Foamcore concept design for the Earthquake Hole.
Foamcore concept design for the Earthquake Hole.

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).

Lead Designer Chris Myers' workstation as construction begins.
Lead Designer Chris Myers' workstation as construction begins.

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.

Inital Construction for the Marble Maze Hole
Inital Construction for the Marble Maze Hole

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.

Concept sketch for the Earthquake Hole.
Concept sketch for the Earthquake Hole.

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.

Steve Fox, Head Greenskeeper
Steve Fox, Head Greenskeeper

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.

Concept sketch for the Music Hole
Concept sketch for the Music Hole

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.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    We'll list you as an "officially beloved supporter" on the Urban Putt website... and we'll think good thoughts about you, of course.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Show off your magnetic personality with a branded Urban Putt San Francisco magnet, suitable for a refrigerator door near you. And we'll add you to our website as an official supporter.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Free mini-golf: You and a guest will have a shot at the course record with a free pass for one round of miniature golf on our San Francisco course. And we'll acknowledge your help on our website, of course.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    UP Threads: This 100% cotton T-shirt, light gray and emblazoned with the UP logo, is the perfect way to show the world that you support Urban Putt. Please specify size.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    Even more free mini-golf: You and three guests will be entitled to a no-cost round of mini-golf on the UP course. And we'll list you on our website as an Urban Putt supporter.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Get an original, signed sketch from one of our talented miniature golf hole designers. These beautiful pieces of art (one of them is the submarine illustration shown on the opening page of this Kickstarter campaign) were created during Urban Putt's planning and prototyping stage. They include several wild ideas--like our sushi boat or the Caddyshack hole--that we haven't built for the course...yet. Plus, we'll add you to our list of benefactors on the site.

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    Pledge $99 or more About $99

    For just under three digits, we'll inscribe your name on our "Wall of Fame" right on the course, so everyone who plays a round of mini-golf will know you helped us build Urban Putt.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    UP Merch! You'll get a handy Urban Putt water bottle, two UP magnets, a handsome Urban Putt branded messenger bag to carry them in, plus a round of golf for you and a friend! And you'll be listed on our website as a "true and generous friend of Urban Putt."

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    Pledge $450 or more About $450

    Let's have a party!! We will host a celebration for you and 14 friends (great for a kid's birthday party as well) that will include golf, pizza, soft serve ice cream, and the use of a private party room for 2 hours. (No Friday or Saturday nights, please.)

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    Reward no longer available 10 backers
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    Pledge $450 or more About $450

    Kids' party! We will host a celebration for your child and 14 guests, that will include golf, pizza, soft serve ice cream, and the use of a private party room for 2 hours. (Kids parties need to end before 8 PM).

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Kids' party--with custom printed golf ball for each of the guests. We will host a celebration for your child and 14 guests, that will include golf, pizza, soft serve ice cream, the use of a private party room for 2 hours, and an Urban Putt golf ball emblazoned with a message of your choice. (Kids parties need to end before 8 PM).

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    Pledge $600 or more About $600

    Upgrade your home address! For our San Francisco earthquake hole, we've created three picture-perfect "Painted Ladies"--those Victorian houses you always see in photographs--that will shake and sway as you play. Support us at this level and we'll place a custom placard on the front of the house (as in, "The John Smith Residence") so everyone who plays the Urban Putt course will know who lives there. Check out urbanputt.com to see a close-up of the Painted Ladies in all their glory.

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    A home of your own: Get an incredibly detailed model of one of San Francisco's Painted Lady Victorian homes, fashioned in high-density foam. Created on our ShopBot (a computer-driven milling machine), this 28" tall façade takes more than four hours to carve. See the Urban Putt website for a detailed image (look under "Kickstarter Goodies").

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Truly a one-of-a kind item. This is a working, motor-driven, hand-built model of the famous Golden Gate Park carousel, which we designed for the 2012 Parking Day Parklet course--Urban Putt's first public project. The carousel is 24" x 24" x 20, and runs on batteries. You can see it in all its glory on urbanputt.com (under "Kickstarter Goodies").

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    A one-of-a-kind gem. This is a hand-built, working model of the Golden Gate Park windmill that Urban Putt built for our first public project, Parking Day 2012. This 24" x 24" model is 39" high and runs on batteries. Check out urbanputt.com (under "Kickstarter Goodies") for a photo of this amazing construction.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    Show your friends just how much you really love mini-golf! With this level pledge we will name a hole on the course after you for a full year! Just imagine gazing up the plaque announcing the Elmo C. Feldschmertz Submarine Hole. Forget stadiums, bridges and libraries; this is the legacy you'll truly want to be known for.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    The crème de la crème

    the Green Blazer of gratitude

    the whole shootin' match! We will send you a cache of Urban Putt merchandise (2 water bottles, a bunch of magnerts, 2 Urban Putt messenger bags), a framed and signed original design sketch by lead designer Chris Myers AND free mini-golf for life for you and a friend

    that's right...I said FOR LIFE!

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Funding period

- (30 days)