Most people, under the influence of a few too many digestifs, would be content merely sneaking onto the golf course to drunkenly drive some balls. For German designers Georg Pal and Hannes Weber, a grappa-fueled backyard barbecue in 2005 was enough to inspire them to actually create their own course. “We made the first cardboard models that night,” Pal recalls, “and tested them in the dark in front of my house.” Two years later, the pair has launched MyMiniGolf, a 9-hole, 13-handicap course that takes just moments to set up and unlike croquet, its closest suburban cousin, can be played indoors or out, on carpet or cut grass.
According to Pal, minigolf is big in Germany. Twenty million Deutschlanders play it regularly, and as teens, the two designers loved the game. “Twenty years ago, minigolf was very square and dusty,” he recalls.
“These days, you see more city kids running around with clubs over their shoulders. It seems to be hip again.”
Pal and Weber first met at Munich’s University of Applied Sciences, where Weber was a student and where Pal, a freelance designer who creates models for car companies, has for 10 years taught a class on automotive design. It’s no surprise, then, that MyMiniGolf’s roots lie in auto manufacturing. “We made technical drawings of the parts and transferred them into 3-D CAD models,” Weber explains. After tweaking a set of cardboard models, the two made mock-ups out of industrial clay, a versatile material typically used to produce full-scale studies of cars; these sculptures served as molds for functioning plastic prototypes.
They didn’t realize it at the time, but they were creating the latest innovation in a pastime that began almost 150 years ago in Scotland, where St. Andrews first featured an 18-hole “Ladies’ Putting” course in 1867. The green putting surface was patented in 1922, and in 1959, Pennsylvania entrepreneur Ralph Lomma created the first layout featuring windmills, waterways, and animated trick hazards—the typical course most minigolfers expect today. As for Weber and Pal’s hazards, each sports a clever name—the spiraled “Acapulco,” the conical “Volcano”—and the candy-colored, injection-molded ABS plastic is sturdy and UV-proof.
“Our philosophy is to create mobile products for a mobile society,” Pal says. “We think it’s time for humans to reclaim public spaces.” He and Weber are already at work designing version 2.0 of MyMiniGolf, which he promises will be “really wild.” Will it include an injection-molded windmill? “Definitely not,” he grins. “We’re going to stretch the boundaries of minigolf beyond your imagination.” $235. Available through www.ameico.com or www.myminigolf.com