It’s mid-April. Winter is over and spring has sprung, but it’s not quite nice enough yet to hit the beach (or roof) after hours. Your team has been working really hard, and could use a pick-me-up to celebrate their successes – something exciting that’ll get the blood racing and maybe work off some of that winter beer. At Hootsuite, we opted to set loose a wildly creative group of people with nothing more than imagination, vague guidelines, and a common goal. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
How about a full 18-hole mini golf course that defied logic, gravity, and convention; a bunch of money raised for a great cause, and an evening unlike any other, even by Hootsuite standards?
On April 17th, we turned the second floor of Hootsuite’s HQ1 into a full mini golf course to raise money for the Special Olympics. Eighteen departments were selected to build a hole each, and each player donated $5 to join a random team of four. When the course officially opened at 5:30pm, many surprises were in store for our excited players. Read on for a small sampling of the creativity, ingenuity, chaos, and engineering triumphs that went into #hootputt 2015!
Hole 4 (Mobile): Mobile Fourst
The Mobile Team threw themselves wholeheartedly into the project and set up a mobile-themed hole that made full use of all the gadgets they had lying around. Players teed off up a ramp and into one of three pipes, one of which could give you a hole in one. The others led to various areas around the hole. The team also made use of an iPad and an iPhone camera, which was set up to show the backside of the hole – users could see where their ball ended up after it disappeared into the pipe system. That’s pretty cool, but the true gem of the hole was the laser trip wire – when feet, clubs, or balls crossed the line, it would trigger a variety of mobile noises, or surprise you with a delicious beverage. Check out the setup below:
Hole 2 (Campaigns Dev) – Owly in Neverland
What happens when you cross Neverland with technology? The Campaigns team decided to use what they know (social media, software engineering, Peter Pan) to make a tropical-flavoured hole that was a crowd favourite.
At the start of Hole 2, the golfer entered their Twitter handle into an Android app that made a post request to a Flask server, running on a Raspberry Pi. Upon receiving this request, the server powered up an electric circuit and the user was prompted to begin. As the electric circuit was powered, a camera and timer rig started up, taking a picture every 200ms. When a hidden pressure sensor was pressed by the ball, a Budweiser goal light was triggered and the Raspberry Pi detected the change in the electric circuit.
When this change was detected, the last 17 pictures captured were processed into an animated gif. The Raspberry Pi connected to the Twitter API and tweeted the animated gif, the golfer’s handle, the amount of time taken to complete the hole, and a random golf quote. The whole thing then reset itself for the next golfer. Check out some of the generated tweets @OwlyPutt!
Hole 9 – The Platform Hole
Hole 9 was created by our Platform team, who went with their name as a theme. Here, the floor is made of lava, so the player was required to balance on platforms to play. This particular hole was set up relay style, requiring two people to play – the first played sent the ball over the lava pits and through a randomizer, which spit the ball out of one of three tubes. From there, a teammate finished the round by putting the ball up a ramp towards the end goal. The course was designed as par 6 divided between two players, with a “hole-in-one” possible in just three shots .. which only one team managed.
Hole 6 (Core UX): Ice Mountain
Themed after a favourite Hootsuite tradition, Ice Mountain was an homage to the Matterhorn (but with more cardboard and alcohol). It featured an ice cold river trap that would steal your ball away and possibly return a “delicious beverage”, which had to be consumed on the spot in the appropriate position. A haunted forest of empty bottles past greeted players as they teed off and up the ramp, all overseen by a majestic Yeti who guarded a secret tunnel through which additional Ices could be delivered.
Some say the Yeti lives in the office to this day, appearing when he’s least expected and always carrying a “gift” for the unlucky soul who makes eye contact.
Hole 10 (Hootsuite IT, aka the Nerd Nest): Operation Desert Owl
Our IT Department decided to take recycling to the next level, and built their hole out of anything they could lay their hands on within their department. Shipping pallets, video cables, sticks of RAM, boxes and packing material, and a desktop PC dug out of storage – along with 180kg of sand – were turned into a hazardous course filled with land mines, tunnels, and tanks. Golfers had to get their ball into a narrow tunnel with enough velocity to make it up the ramp and into Pallet Bridge. A lucky shot into the tunnel could guide the ball towards the hole, but a misfire left you at the mercy of the desert hazards on all sides. Finally, you had to pass through a maze to get to the hole:
Hole 14: Written, Directed by, and Starring the Engagement Team, VPs, and Directors
An action-packed, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride, guaranteed to leave you shaking and sweaty, unsure of what just happened. Paying homage to the artistic vision of classic action films of the 80s and 90s, Hole 14 was centered around the theme of “Explosions”. A projector was set up to display a 9 minute montage of cars and buildings turning into flaming rubble by way of gigantic, spectacular fireballs. Golfers had to land a tricky initial shot into a ball-cannon, which fired their ball towards the escape helicopter/hole. Obstacles on the green consisted of cardboard cutouts of actors doing the classic “jump away from explosion towards the camera” move. There was also a really stellar playlist of action movie scores going, but everyone was screaming so loud with excitement that you could barely hear it. Sadly, there are no photos – the heat from the constant detonations melted the camera.
I could write about the amazing detail that went into each department’s hole or how much everyone raved about the event, but we’re already venturing into TL;DR territory. Here are some of the other highlights of the evening, in handy point form:
- Hole 5: The Design Team‘s hole, which was a design prototyping demonstration with low-fidelity mockups, A|B testing, and other important tools from a designer’s toolkit, mixed with some classic mini golf elements such as the windmill, the water trap, and a loop-de-loop, because every good golf course has a loop-de-loop.
- Hole 8: The Operating System, designed by Operations. Aim for the Ubuntu hole up the RAMp. Sink it, and your ball travels a series of tubes before dropping right in front of the hole for an easy 2. If you missed Ubuntu, you went the Windows route .. which dropped you into a Blue Screen of Death and wireless connection issues, which were physical traps you had to navigate around.
- Hole 1: Campaignchella, the crazy, over-the-top festival experience delivered by the Campaigns Sales Team. Palm trees, flower garlands, Jell-O shots, selfie sticks, and glowing stage in the mountains – Campaignchella had it all (including mini golf).
- Hole 11: The secure and compliant hole designed by Security and Compliance ft. Technical Communications, featuring an Air-Vac that sucked the ball up and onto a structurally questionable wooden high rise where it would travel over a row of desks and into Darth Vader’s waiting arms. From there, the ball travelled along a metal girder, over a water trap and past a sand pit (both made from pools of sequins). To score, your ball had to travel up a short ramp and into a deceptively tricky hole – and when you did, you were rewarded with an Arduino-powered LED show that was triggered by the ball hitting the target. The lowest possible score was a two, which only one person managed.
- Hole 12: The WebOps ski hill, studded with Kokanee cans and everyone’s ski/snowboard gear they sadly had to stop using in early February because Vancouver skipped winter this year
- Hole 15: The money-themed hole of Online Revenue, reminding us all who generates the cash that allows us to celebrate the #hootsuitelife in style
Huge props are due for the #hootputt organizers: Noel Pullen, Bethany Foote, Eric Puchmayr, Dave Russell, Janis Behan, Cameron Semple, Michelle Reid, Matt Diederichs, Greg Williams, Stefanie Warren, Louisa Thue, and Jody Chambers; with a special shoutout to Dayna Gerson for rocking the beer cart. Special thanks to our sponsors, too – Odyssey Golf for loaning us putters, and Granville Beer for keeping our whistles wet with deliciousness!
I encourage you to check out the all the pictures and videos over on the #hootputt Campaign page – it’s impossible to cover the amount of fun we had in just one post. Every single participant who designed or played the course brought an incredible amount of energy and passion to the evening, and all for a great cause.
Personally, I vote this becomes an annual tradition. Bring on #hootputt2016!
About the Author
Kimli (who goes by one name like Nostradamus or Rasputin or Steve) is the Technical Writer for the Engineering Department. When not plagued by headcrabs, she can be found riding around Vancouver on her Vespa, crouched under the Vegas Comma muttering blackly about people who double space after a period, or buried under an avalanche of toys. She is ridiculous.