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Originally published March 8, 2013 at 5:31 AM | Page modified March 8, 2013 at 2:24 PM

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Golf gone wild at Smash Putt

At Smash Putt, a temporary gonzo mini-golf installation in Sodo, there are zany holes, drill presses and lots of drinking.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Smash Putt

Smash Putt is open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and to midnight on Sunday. The event, for those 21 and over only, runs through April 28. Held at 1950 First Ave. S., Seattle. Admission: $12-$15. www.smashputt.com

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did it the first time they were here and had a blast. can't wait to go back again and... MORE
Putt putt for the fun of it! MORE

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Golf balls are shooting out of an air gun, and a dude with a club in one hand and a Manny’s ale in the other is telling the new arrivals “You’ll get used to the loud ‘Boom.’ ”

And watch out for the — fore! — stray balls.

Come in, through the hallway, watch your step, kinda dark in here, like a Capitol Hill bar, only with putters and golf balls.

In your best Braveheart voice, say it, say it with the crowd: “This is the Rise of the Miniature Golf Apocalypse!’”

And there you have it: the motto of Smash Putt. It’s putt-putt with a wink and lots of booze.

While we‘re at it, why isn’t there a beer in your hand?

Here at hole 12, putt your ball through a contraption and walk to the other side and watch a drill go all Michael Myers.

But you might wanna do this hole last, since as host Mike McCracken advises, “It kinda alters the physics of the game since you’ll get a hole in your ball.”

Well then, an innocuous-looking par-2 hole nearby seems safe — only a lid slides out to cover the hole as the ball is about to drop in. The player laughs. Her friend just crumples up the score card.

McCracken and his artist friends have been staging Smash Putt since 2009, taking over warehouse spaces where they can find them on the cheap — Sodo this year — and turning the space into a mini golf course/art installation.

The idea came partly from one of its founders, Jeremy Franklin-Ross, who played miniature golf with a friend. His friend had a peculiar set of rules; if you see a dinosaur on the course, ride it. See a cave, go in it and smoke pot.

It dawned on him that miniature golf was so boring that his friend had to make up rules for amusement.

Well, Franklin-Ross could do better. And Smash Putt was born.

He’s gotten all gonzo on the game. In place of windmills and cute figurines, he and his artist friends came up with industrial, mechanized and robotic contraptions and gags for a 15-hole course.

They wanted a watering-hole vibe. They put in a lounge area.

Their background music is KEXP-esque, recorded tracks from local acts and musicians who have slept on their couch.

And of course there had to be a full bar.

At the “Mission Impossible” hole, players slither around the zigzagging laser lights to avoid triggering an alarm. Your best chance of getting the ball in the hole is to contort as if playing “Twister” or to use the putter like a cue stick.

There’s a driving (more like shooting) range, where you get behind an air-pressured gun in a cage and fire golf balls at dangling metal objects.

Meanwhile, a marching band gets ready to prance across the room. “Just because,” the host explains.

Some geeky guys are gawking at the sexy girl cat-burglaring her way around the laser lights. Someone is humming the “Mission Impossible” theme behind her.

There’s laughter and drinking, lots of drinking.

It’s a 21-and-over event. And for the shrinking violets wondering about attending, organizers warn there might be foul language, machine violence and “unicorns being stabbed by clowns.”

It’s only opening night, not even 8 yet, and folks are filing in. We overhear one player say to her friend, “Oh boy, you think any of them think this is putt-putt?”

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle

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