Sports have been getting the Black Mirror treatment lately. New concepts and experiences involving throwing, catching or hitting balls are infused with a heavy dose of technology.
There are all sorts of virtual reality hubs in North Texas, including ImaginationsVR in Allen, Zero Latency in Addison and Sandbox VR in Dallas and Forth Worth that let players experience a variety of games and challenges. There’s also the Crush It! Virtual Sports Lounge in Grapevine, which lets people play an entire Sporting good store worth of virtual sports under one air-conditioned roof.
The newest concept in tech-heavy sports, however, doesn’t involve wearing a Giant headset or stereo-grade headphones that trick your mammalian brain into thinking you’re about to die or make you work up a not-so-virtual sweat.
Puttshack is a new miniature golf experience that brings ball-tracking sensors and a computerized score keeper to a series of playing fields that supply lots more technological surprises. And one venue is headed our way.
Puttshack is opening a new golfing, eating and drinking experience at the Village in the Parkway in Addison. It’s scheduled to open next summer, according to a company statement.
If mini-golf sounds like the kind of date your grandparents might go on, don’t worry. This isn’t that. For starters, you can buy alcoholic beverages from real bartenders and food that doesn’t come out of a vending machine. The 28,000-square-foot space will have a full-service menu for lunch and dinner and serve cocktails with a full bar that extends to two floors.
This mini-golf field lets you do more than putt greens with the occasional hill, aluminum barriers or a concrete dinosaur blocking your path. Puttshack’s greens are more innovative, responsive and challenging than those found in your typical mini-golf course.
The entire game is automated electronically from the moment you pick up your ball to your final putt. A series of screens takes players through the course. Players pick up their Clubs and balls from an automated dispenser that cleans the balls (uh huh huh) and assigns a Tracer to them so a computer can keep track of your score. Puttshack calls it “Trackaball.”
The Addison location will have four courses in which each player’s ball is tracked and scores are recorded on a computer system that follows players to each hole. The scoring is also a little more complex than just strokes and making par. Each shot awards players a certain number of points: 50 for a hole-in-one down to 15 points for any hole that takes nine strokes or more.
Some holes also have little Easter eggs called “Supertubes” that are hidden throughout the course and can gain players extra points or even a hole-in-one regardless of how many strokes they took. There are also some “hazard traps” built into some parts of the course that will deduct points if players get their ball stuck in them.
The holes themselves are challenging enough if you decide to play the game through the traditional route. Some of the obstacles on Puttshack’s courses include a Giant “Beer Pong” hole in which players launch their ball off a ramp and into a series of Giant red Solo cups, an air hockey table with moving paddles to block your shots and a Giant Pinball machine with bumpers and secret passageways. There’s even a hole with a spinning wheel that can award prizes like free games or drinks.
“The Puttshack Dallas location will be a unique, high-energy space with multiple floors and include brand-new features for our tech-infused mini golf experience,” said Logan Power, Puttshack’s global chief executive officer and UK president in a released statement. “It’ll be a premier destination for everyone in the Dallas area.”