Seattle's bizarre Smash Putt is mini-golf on steroids

SEATTLE - Pneumatic contraptions, reconfigured war machines, powerful lasers and a pint of Manny's. Many pints.

All just another Saturday night at Smash Putt.

Part deranged science project meets mini-golf, the short-term attraction attracts mustachioed hipsters and suburban moms alike. Creator Jeremy Franklin-Ross says that's part of the allure. "It's the utopian ideal of a post-apocalyptic world," he said.

Spread out over nine different hole, Smashputt features roving obstacles at some holes and a Mission: Impossible-style room filled with motion-detecting lasers. If you hit one, klaxons blare.

Franklin-Ross says Smash Putt started when a group of artists, carpenters, musicians and programmers banded together to make a statement about interactive art. "People that want to get hands on and collaborate to make new and amazing things," he said.

One hole includes old shag carpeting and a completely playable Nintendo console from the 1980s. It's a living room with a golf course in the middle.

The founders felt there needed to be a place in the community for a mix of fun and commentary on the nature of games and play. Franklin-Ross wanted to break away from galleries, dowdy museums and what he called the "sort of snobby, incestuous art community."

Smashputt only runs for a few weeks in the spring - March 1 through April 28 - and Franklin-Ross says that is also part of the commentary. All games come to end at some point, but the memories and shared experience stays with us.

The "smash" in Smash Putt comes from the final hole, where duffers push their balls through a box and a drill punches a hole through the ball and then spits it out into a bucket. Then that damaged ball is shot out of a cannon, pinging off hanging metal car hoods and power tools.

Franklin-Ross wants the end of things to bring a smile.

"For Smash Putt to work, it needs to happen and go away."


Smash Putt is located at 1950 First Ave. South in Seattle's SoDo district. Make reservations and buy tickets at
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