Introduction: Executive Par 3 Golf Game
I wanted to design a fun putting game that had the characteristics of a skee-ball machine. The putting game is modeled after a 9-hole Executive Par 3 golf course that are found around the country where available land or real estate may be in short supply. The game is designed to be disassembled and packaged for portability (i.e. tailgate, family parties).
The scoring board is setup like a real par 3 golf hole. A golf ball going through the top hole would count as 1 for a “hole-in-one” or an “ace”. This should be the hardest hole to putt to and have the highest risk to reward ratio. The second hole from the top would score as a 2 or a “birdie”. The third hole from the top is a 3 or a “par”. And the bottom hole will count as 4 or a “bogey”. If a ball goes out of bounds (off the scoring surface or lands on the blue water below the last hole) it will count as a 5 or a “double-bogey). The skill involved in the game is to judge the speed of one’s putt to the launch the ball as high as possible without going over the scoring target board to score a “hole-in-one”.
The game is scored like a regular 9 hole executive course. A player will putt nine holes or putt the ball nine times. The object of the game, like real golf, is to get the lowest score possible. A score card has been designed to keep track of each players score.
The final dimension of target hole board is 23 inches wide by 32 inches long. With ½ inch plywood sides added to the target board, the final width of the game will be 24 inches wide.
List of Materials
- · ½” plywood (sides and target board assembly)
- · pine spacers (cut to smaller widths for ramp sides)
- · ¾” plywood (putting lane)
- · 1/8” plywood (curved launch ramp)
- · 1 x 4 pine (sides of target assembly)
- · Homemade decals (scoring labels)
- · 4” tall white vinyl tile edge molding (bottom ring of target board)
- · 2” right-angle metal brackets (out-of-bounds catch)
- · Sports netting (out-of-bounds catch)
- · Green yoga mat (to soften golf ball impact)
- · various wood screws and wood glue
- · Auto body filler
- · Medium density fiberboard (misc. pieces for curve form)
Step 1: Target Board Assembly
The size of the target board is 23 inches wide by 32 inches long and fabricated from ½” thick plywood. The scoring holes were laid out on the plywood and cut with a 3 1/2” diameter hole saw connected to my drill. The golf ball channeling dividers or bumpers were formed from a hard vinyl material. I choose to make these from 4 inch tall white vinyl edge molding. This molding is used on the bottom of walls where vinyl flooring has been laid. To use them I had to cut the small 90-degree edge off with a sharp carpet knife. I then glued two pieces together to give the rings the proper stiffness. The adhesive I used is a 3M product used as a bedding material for the restoration of wooden boats. It is called 3M Marine 5200 Adhesive.
The planned placement of the golf ball channeling bumpers where laid out on the plywood target board. A ¼” router bit was used to form a channel to accept the channeling bumpers and allow them to keep their form. The dividers were cut to a 3 inch height and the proper length to fit into each channel. The same 3M 5200 adhesive was used to secure the vinyl dividers in the channels. Masking tape was used to hold the dividers in place until the adhesive dried. The bottom bumper below the last hole was glued to a wooden height spacer that filled the unused target board area. This will be painted blue and designated as a water hazard. Once the adhesive had dried the par 3 target board was lined with a soft material to “deaden” the bounce of the golf balls. This is the yoga mat used:
It was glued in place with construction adhesive glue.
Step 2: Target Board Enclosure
To complete the golf ball target assembly, the sides and bottom had to be measured, cut and attached from ½ inch thick plywood. The overall height of the sides was 14 inches tall. The front piece was only 9 inches high to allow for the attachment of the putting launch ramp. The bottom was also made from ½ inch thick plywood and attached with a 1 ½ inch clearance from the bottom level of the sides to allow room for the target assembly angle stand to fold into place for storage. Corner spacers that measured 2 ½ inches tall were used to elevate the target board so the putted golf balls would roll to an exit hole for replay. The golf ball exit chute was placed on the right hand side of the enclosure.
Step 3: Target Board Stand
Finally, the target board assembly has to be angled to accept the putted golf balls. I choice an angle of approximately 30 degrees. I made a stand that could be folded down in place. It is hard to explain so please study the photos. Basically, the stand and the stand brace are attached by hinges and then secured in there functional and storage positions with barrel bolt latches. All the pieces were made from ½ inch plywood.
Step 4: Curved Launch Ramp
The curved launch ramp was formed from 5 mm thick floor underlayment plywood. The plywood piece was cut 18 inches wide to allow room for side alleys (right side will be the golf ball return channel). To begin the curving process, the plywood was soaked in water for approximately 24 hours. With the wood completely saturated, it was curved to a premade form fabricated from pine and medium density fiberboard. The plywood was clamped in place and allowed to dry out for a while. After two days, the clamps were removed and the plywood was found to hold its curved shape.
Next, the newly formed curved launch had to be attached to the putting lane with a smooth transition There could be no raised seam that would affect the smooth rolling of the putted golf ball. There will be more information on the fabrication of the putting lane in the next section. For now, it is enough to know that this putting lane is made from ¾ inch thick utility plywood. So, to allow for this smooth transition, the launch ramp was positioned in place and the junction edge was marked on the putting lane plywood and then a ¼ inch depth groove was routed into the plywood at this line. The curved launch ramp was then attached with wood glue and small brad nails. This junction with then covered over with autobody filler to hide any wood seam. Once dried, the filler was sanded smooth for a very nice transition between the putting lane and the curved launch.
Step 5: Putting Lane Fabrication
I wanted the putting lane to be long enough for the putted golf ball to develop enough speed to get up the launch ramp. I also wanted the putting lane to be easily removed from the target board assembly and stored with it for portability (transporting it). Because of these factors, I decided to make a folding putting lane. I could make the putting lane twice as long if it folded on itself.
Because the target board is 32 inches long, the putting lane could be approximately 64 inches long before it was folded in half. But remember, some of that length will be taken up by the attachment of the launch ramp, as explained in the previous section. A piano hinge (continuous hinge) was used to attach the two halves of the putting lane. Again, I need a smooth transition, so the piano hinge was countersunk approximately ¼ inch in a groove made by a straight router bit. Once attached, the hinge pivot mechanism was covered with masking tape and the entire edge was covered with autobody filler, as I used before.
Once dried, the filler was sanded and smoothed to blend with the surface of the putting lane plywood so there was no interference to the smooth rolling of a putted golf ball. You may also notice in the photos that a semi-round groove was routed where the ball return lane will be. This will allow for the easy rolling and return of the putted golf ball. Before the artificial putting surface could be attached to the putting lane, I had to finish the attachment design as explained in the next section.
Step 6: Attaching the Putting Lane to the Target Assembly
I first needed to support the launch ramp since it was formed from pretty thin 5 mm thick plywood. The side profile of the ramp was traced to a pattern and then three ½ inch plywood supports were cut out. The supports were glued and nailed in place using 1 inch brad nails. Next came the design of the launch ramp borders. The borders were needed so the putted ball could stay on target. The launch borders will also serve as the attachment mechanism to the target assembly and the right border will be the start of the return alley for the putted golf ball (kind of like a bowling alley).
To start, the front angle of the target assembly was captured and transferred to a wooden pattern. A ½ inch wide notch was added to the pattern so the ramp borders could grip the front plywood border of the target assembly. Each ramp border assembly would be 4 inches wide. The alleys themselves are 3 ½ inches wide (putting lane was 23 inches wide minus 16 inches as the width of the launch ramp leaves 7 inches divided by 2). The sides of the ramp border assemblies will be constructed from ½ inch plywood (2 sides = 1 inch total width). That means we need 3 inch wood spacers to form the top of the ramp border assemblies. Fortunately, regular 2 x 4 inch pine studs are nominal 1 ½ inches thick so I used two pieces of scrap pine to form the roof of each ramp border assembly. See the photos. These were glued up, camped and left to dry. Once the assemblies were dry, the clamps were removed and the tops were shaped on the band saw to match the contours of the launch ramp. Once sanded, the launch ramp borders were glued and nailed to the putting lane plywood and to the launch ramp itself. Now the putting lane was held securely to the target assembly, yet could be easily removed for storage.
Step 7: Artificial Turf Placement
The only step left was to place the artificial putting turf on the putting lane assembly. I ordered a product from Amazon that was almost 18 inches wide. I was real happy with the quality of this artificial putting surface.
I cut the turf to the correct length and glued it in place with VCT floor adhesive. I stapled the edges just to make sure it stayed secure.
Step 8: Alley Covers
The alley covers were also made 4 inches wide and 32 inches in length. Everything was constructed out of ½ inch plywood. The outside wall of each alley extended ¾ inches farther to cover the edge of the putting lane and reach the ground. The height of the alleys were made to match the launch ramp borders. This gave move then enough height for the returning golf balls to travel freely (by gravity). Both ends of the right alley are left open so the return golf ball flows freely to be reused again. The left alley ends can be closed if desired. The finished alley covers set in place on the putting lane assembly up against the launch ramp borders. They are not permanently attached so they can be removed and stored in the target assembly for transport.
Step 9: Out-of-Bounds Net
As an afterthought, I made an “out-of-bounds” net to catch wayward golf putts that were hit too hard. As we played the game, I realized the “hole-in-one” putt try was just as likely to be missed with the putt being hit too hard as well as it being hit too soft. This net was made to catch the “too-hard” putts.
Basically, sports netting was just stapled to a pine frame constructed as wide as the target assembly (24 inches). The depth was 18 inches. The wood frame side that abuts the target assembly was cut at a 60 degrees angle so the net would be positioned horizontally. Small 2 inch right-angle metal brackets spaced ½ inch from the edge (width of the plywood side) were used to hold the net in place. Again, it was removable so it could be stored and packed for portability and transport.
Step 10: Finishing Touches
All the nail holes were filled with wood putty and sanded smooth. A nice light brown (tan) enamel paint was painted on all exposed wood surfaces. Homemade decals were made from golf putting graphics found on the internet. These images were printed on Glossy White Waterproof Decal Paper. See below:
The decals were cut out and affixed to the proper scoring hole. Next, a nine-hole score card was designed in PowerPoint. Yardages were made up to simulate a real executive par 3 course. The scorecards were printed on common cardstock. See below:
Two scorecards could be printed on each sheet. They were cut out and folded over.
Step 11: Portability - Wheel Assembly
A removable wheel assembly was constructed as the last component needed to make this game portable to be easily transported to any location. This wheel assembly will attach to the target assembly side with two bolts. Being removable, it is taken off and stored elsewhere when the game is unpacked and set up for playing. The game can be played inside or outside.
The wheel assembly was fabricated with two 8 inch diameter plastic hub wheels (as used on a lawnmower). For strength, I used two pieces of ¾ inch thick oak, glued together, as the frame for the wheels. Two right-angle metal brackets were screwed to the ends of this oak board to accept the wheels. The wheels were then bolted to the other end of each metal bracket using the appropriate diameter bolt for the axle opening size in the plastic hub. See the photos.
Step 12: Portability - Packing and Transporting the Game
See how the game is packed up in the photos. First, the wheels are attached to the target assembly. The target assembly becomes the main storage unit for all the removable parts of the game. The alley covers are placed to each side. The out-of-bounds net can then be placed in the middle between the alley covers. Next, you fold the putting lane in half and then lift it up and unhook it from the front of the target assembly. A strap can be used to keep it from unfolding and then the entire putting lane is placed upside down on top of the previous placed components. The curved launch ramp sticks out with a handle placed underneath the ramp to serve as a gripping spot when pulling the packed up game. The folded up putting lane is secured to the target assembly with a rod threaded on top of it and two rotating eye hasp type latches used to secure the sides to the target assembly.
Once everything is packaged up and secured, the game is ready to be easily transported.