The Puttery, is a “premier golf entertainment concept” that debuted in the summer of 2021, with the first two venues opened in Dallas, Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina. They are a subsidiary of Drive Shack.
Drive Shack had a big idea: to disrupt the traditional mini golf experience and create an entertainment venue where adults could have an epic night out – complete with competitive socializing, curated culinary options and inventive craft cocktails. They aimed to create an ultra-immersive venue where each course is intricately and mind-blowingly designed to a unique theme. And they wanted to do away with the pencil-and-paper scorecard found at any old roadside putt-putt, and implement a technology-driven system that would fully integrate with the immersive designs of each course and enhance the overall user experience. After all, their guests would much rather hold a craft cocktail than a tiny golf pencil and a wrinkled scorecard.
Drive Shack approached 900lbs with this challenge statement, and we couldn’t have been more excited. We quickly got to work embarking on a full Discovery Phase, working through end-to-end User Experience flows, designing and building proof of concept prototypes and performing tech feasibility tests. At the end of this phase, we knew we had a proven concept and could build the applications that would allow for a flawless check-in process at each course, and a fully digital scorekeeping method.
We decided to deploy an agile project management methodology to allow for continued prioritization and iterative development of new features, creative exploration and testing..testing..testing.
For the upcoming launch of their first location, we were tasked with designing and developing:
- A Check-in Application that ties into the Puttery’s reservation system and allows Puttery employees to check in guests at each course to start their game play adventure
- A Player Scorecard System that provides players with a system to enter their scores at each hole and view their scorecard for the course, with a unique User Interface design that matches each of the course designs
- A Leaderboard System that displays high scores based on category such as highest overall, daily high score leaders, and more
Our first step was to put ourselves in the shoes of the end user with one question in mind. How can we design the coolest mini golf game experience any of us has ever played? Our User Experience design process took every scenario we could imagine into consideration for both the Puttery employees and the guests there to play the game.
For the check in app we had to consider how the employee would best utilize the application, the most logical flow for retrieving a reservation, how to check in groups who did not have a reservation, and how to quickly add or remove players without causing disruption…especially during busy rush times! It was imperative that we create an app that was easy to navigate and nimble enough to allow for quick adjustments when needed.
As for the scorecard, we knew we had to create an app that was simple enough for anyone to immediately understand at first glance, but robust enough to allow for multiple behind-the-scenes features to ensure accurate scorekeeping. We considered all the angles and ultimately created an intuitive application that dynamically leads the player from hole-to-hole and allows them to input their score along the way. The scorecard collects their total score and displays it on each scorecard tablet, and also on the large-format Leaderboard displays at high-visibility points at each course.
Our check-in application was designed with the Puttery brand at the forefront. Hosts and employees are able to log in at any kiosk with their employee ID, review upcoming reservations for the day and begin checking groups in at the courses as they arrive for their tee times. There are also features that allow the employees to revise reservations and a quick-play option to assign groups without a reservation an immediate tee time when needed.
For the scorecard we designed a simple but elegant scoring solution that allows each player to play through each hole, then tap into their scorecard to record their score. Careful consideration was taken in the design dimensions to ensure the touchscreen interface was intuitive and responsive in the way our guests would expect. There are also a few fun, interactive, surprises for anyone who gets a hole-in-one and for those who get a max score of six.
App Development and Tech
The check-in application integrates with Drive Shack’s internal API to ensure that reservations are displaying properly from the Puttery website, and conversely sends back the appropriate information when an employee needs to make changes to a reservation or create a new one at the venue. Data on group sizes and player names are communicated back and forth between our app and the API so that each group that starts a round is sorted and queued in the appropriate format.
The scorecard application underwent the more rigorous development process, and through our agile methodology we iterated on a multitude of features, failsafes and various gameplay modes. We also tested relentlessly. And, in the end we developed an intuitive application that anyone can use. The scorecard is scalable to allow for different types of gameplay and integrates with the Leaderboard application we developed to showcase the top scorers for each day, each course and eventually across multiple venues.
From day one of opening the doors, The Puttery has been an undeniable hit with guests from all over the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Guests continue to pack the venue to enjoy the incredible course designs, a digital-first mini golf experience and top-notch food and cocktails. Positive press and rave reviews have come from everywhere including the traditional media outlets, social media influencers and word of mouth. 900lbs is proud to have partnered with Drive Shack on the development of the Puttery game concept at the first location and also to have helped them to scale and launch their second location in Charlotte, NC. Going forward we look forward to helping build on their product roadmap and scale to even more locations in the future.