Harris Kalinka

Imagery + Animation Golf + Architecture

Friday 20th March 2015

Animating a full-size crazy golf course

It’s not every day you get to animate holes for a course that “will feature holes as intrepid and extreme as any ever designed”. And who could have guessed doing it would involve modelling an 80m-wide noddle bowl, complete with chopsticks and giant noodles.

But that’s exactly what we got to do in 2012 when Schmidt-Curley Golf Design asked us to animate three holes for a full-size crazy golf course at the world’s biggest golf resort – Mission Hills in China.

“What I pushed was to create full-scale mini golf,” explains golf course architect Brian Curley. “It’s still going to be real golf, with real clubs. You’ll need to putt and you’ll need to drive. Everything will be the same except instead of being surrounded by pine trees, you’re surrounded by the Great Wall of China.”

The three holes we were tasked with animating were the winners of a global competition for armchair golf architects. They were The Noodle Bowl, The Great Wall and Mayan-themed Riches to Ruins. The images and animations were to market the course, which is due for completion in 2014, and to encourage corporate sponsors for each hole.


The par 3 Noodle Bowl hole

The par 3 Noodle Bowl hole


Before we started animating golf courses we’d spent eight years creating animations of buildings, which meant modelling the Great Wall, Mayan temples and the noodle bowl was relatively straightforward. Having said that, there are some nice details we included, but if you blink you’ll miss them. The intricate gold pattern that adorns the noodle bowl, for example, includes the Mission Hills logo, and similarly the logo is etched into the 75m-long chopsticks.


The par 4 Great Wall hole at the Mission Hills Fantasy Course

The par 4 Great Wall hole


The par 5 Mayan themed Riches to Ruins hole at the Mission Hills Fantasy Course

The par 5 Riches to Ruins hole


The hole I’m most looking forward to playing

Apart from the three holes we created animations for I would have to say I’m really looking forward to playing The Volcano. It gives the player the choice of hitting a challenging shot onto the green or shooting for the mouth of the volcano and if you succeed, the ball will roll down favourably onto the green – a typical risk and reward hole.

The hole Juris is most looking forward to playing

“For pure entertainment and hilarity it would have to be the par 3 that uses an industrial fan to blow a strong wind at the golfer on the tee, causing all kinds of problems trying to hit the ball, let alone execute a reasonable swing.”


Brian Curley, the golf course architect spoke about the fantasy course at the Asia Pacific Golf Conference in Brunei, and I followed him with a talk on the importance of showing your golf course. In it I referenced the way in which Schmidt-Curley and Mission Hills had used golf course animations from the planning phase to build interest and excitement in the media and on social networks around a course not scheduled to open for another two years.

Speaking to other industry professionals at the event, the consensus was that whilst some don’t think courses like this are in the spirit of golf, almost everyone will want to play the course at least once (I know I do!). There’s a good chance it will also encourage children and others who have not previously been interested in the game to have a go.

One thing I do know for sure is that there are going to be a lot of golf balls lost in that noodle bowl.

Get in touch if you want to discuss animations for your golf course