T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
Scotland-based company 'puttup' producing fun, addicting putting games
If you haven't already heard of a company called "puttup," consider this your friendly introduction to three games that could very well become a staple in your living room, office, pro shop, or favorite 19th hole establishment.
Based in Scotland, the homeland of golf, puttup was co-founded by Doug Wilkie and David Isaac, two golf-loving friends who are creating putting games that are just as much fun as they are addictive.
So what is puttup?
Currently, puttup consists of three games: The Straight Putt; The Pace Putt; and The Breaking Putt.
In simple terms, each product/game is a board thats's hand-crafted from high quality, sustainable oak creating a glass-like surface from which to putt.
Here's how they work:
The Straight Putt plays on one of the most intimidating shots in golf.
With no breaks to consider and no undulations to worry about, there's no one to blame but yourself for missing a straight putt. On this putting board there's a raised piece of oak that's just wide enough to balance the golf ball between you and the hole. The goal, of course, is to keep the ball on the slick raised oak, with zero margin for error. If you can master this, then those glass-like knee-knockers you face in a round of golf should be easy.
The Straight Putt from puttup, however, is far from easy:
The Pace Putt is described by puttup as the, "perfect judge of pace, skill and luck."
You'd be hard-pressed to argue with them, as this game board features a seesaw-like design that can be adjusted to varying levels of difficulty. The object of the game is simple -- the execution is not. You putt the ball up the seesaw-like oak. Too soft? The ball comes back to your feet. Too hard? The ball flies back to your feet. Just right? The seesaw slowly lowers and the ball nestles beautifully as it would in a hole on the course.
See it in action:
Lastly, there's The Breaking Putt. As its name suggests, the break putt requires players to perfectly judge the break on a board of oak that features seven golf holes on the lower part of the board. One side requires all left-to-right breaking putts from a variety of distances. The other side requires all right-to-left breaking putts from a variety of distances.
In the video below, Wilkie describes The Breaking Putt:
We recently caught up with Wilkie for a Q&A to learn more about puttup.
PGA.com: How did you come up with the idea for puttup?
Wilkie: I was asked to come up with some indoor golf games for some Irish golfers who we play an annual game against. They went down a storm and the local hotel Ducks wanted one in the bar. I made him a version of Pace Putt and visitors from around the world enjoyed playing it in the bar so at New Year last year we decided to try and make three games challenging the three putts in golf -- Straight, Breaking and Pace putt. The parameters that we came up with for each of the games was they had to start easy and develop to always be challenging even for the best golfer, look fantastic when not being played and most of all be fun to play.
After some time spent in my shed I'd come up with the three games and after testing we knew we had something special so started the company in April 2012 and launched our puttup website shortly after. There was still a lot of testing and development to be done and we finally launched at The Open in Muirfield this year which is just along the road from our base in Scotland.
PGA.com: Can you tell me a little about each of the three products you're offering now?
Wilkie: Pace Putt -- You know the putt; the one where you are at the bottom of a very steep green. We've all been there and had the ball trundle back to us, to the muted amusement of our fellow golfers. Well this is the essence of pace putt -- recreating those 'magic' moments. You have to weight your putt perfectly so the precisely balanced chute tips gently down.
In testing, there has been a variation in play. Rather than place the ball at the start of the chute, the players somehow ending up chipping from the bar, along the carpet and then up the chute. But that's another story.
Straight Putt -- The straight putt could be said to be one of the most intimidating shots in golf. No breaks to consider, no undulations to worry about. Nothing to blame. Yep, you are on your own here -- this is all about you and how straight you can putt. Or not, as the case may be. It starts easy, putting from the first mark on side one of the game -- almost a gimme, but when you turn it over to the narrow side from the back mark it requires the utmost precision -- for most golfers it's a 1 in 50 putt but the more you practice the more you make it.
Straight Putt is hand-crafted from high quality, sustainable oak. It's made as a laminate for strength and stability -- the narrow channel you putt along needs to remain straight and true. A bit like your putting.
Breaking Putt -- Breaking Putt is all about the line. Oh and the pace too. How many times have you been close to the hole only to find you're faced with a killer break? Well with Breaking Putt you have seven holes with breaks, some easier than others. We've developed a game called 'Crossfire' where two people start at either end and it's a race to see who can complete all seven holes in the right order first. Goes down a storm.
Breaking Putt is the most complex to make as the oak laminates have to be expertly bonded and shaped together. But stick this on your wall and you have one impressive-looking feature.
PGA.com: What has the reception been like when people see your products for the first time?
Wilkie: The reaction to the games has been fantastic. At first some people are nervous of putting on wood, but once tried that is forgotten and the challenge of making hard putts takes over. They love playing Crossfire on Breaking Putt. It takes away the lengthy process of lining up putts as you race and makes you putt instinctively which a number of pros that have played it says is a tremendous training aid.
PGA.com: Did I see in one of your videos that you actually include a list of games people can play on each product?
Wilkie: All the games come with a hanger that not only lets you store them on the wall out of the way but on display the hanger also has suggestions of different games that can be played on each game. These have all been suggested to us by players and I'm sure over time many more will be suggested.
PGA.com: If I'm not mistaken, you can play puttup pretty much anywhere, right (proshop; clubhouse; home; etc.)?
Wilkie: The games are best played with friends and can be played anywhere inside or out.
When showing the games with old putters when players make the hardest putt on Straight and Breaking Putt they want to buy my old putter such is their sense of achievement of making the putt so they are great for selling putters in the pro shop.
In the clubhouse they create a fantastic atmosphere and draw different groups together as you can play group challenges on them. They also make an unusual trophy for a competition and can be branded with the competition name, have competition winners names added and also played in the bar afterwards.
The games have been used at numerous corporate events where they make ideal icebreakers or after dinner entertainment. We launched them at The Open Championship this year in all 3 of the main corporate hospitality restaurants -- you can see pictures of this on our website -- the response from guests was overwhelming with orders taken for businesses wanting their logos added to the games to then use at golf outings or at trade shows to attract customers to their stands.
We also have customers who have bought the games to then use at fundraising events, by charging to play at a charity event they can give a prize as the hardest putts are 1 in 50 they have helped many charities.
The games have been a feature in my local hotel Ducks in Aberlady, where they are played by guests daily. They even had a visit from an Icelandic TV crew who called in to film them having heard how fun they were!
We like to think of the games as fine pieces of furniture not to be tucked out of sight in a cupboard but hung up on show so in the home they look stunning and as they are so easy to take down to play (no assembly needed) it encourages you to play and practice more often.
PGA.com: What has been the most rewarding aspect of this veture so far?
Wilkie: The number of times I've heard people say "just one more go" as they try to make the hardest putt and the joy the games have brought to others makes it all worthwhile. Oh and winning three medals this year with my improved putting was a good perk of the job!
You can learn more about puttup at www.puttup.com. As for costs, the puttup games range in price from between $400-$900, plus shipping, though you should check the currency exchange rate, as all prices on the site are listed in British Pounds Sterling. Wilkie says, however, puttup will ship anywhere.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.