Pin-Golf difficulty check, please?

We had that goal (get SIM card) in a recent pin golf event. Of just under 50 players, I believe only two or three actually made the goal. Everyone else scored a 4.

If the goal is too hard, it’s no good, just as it’s no good if it’s too easy. What you are aiming for is a good points spread, where the median of the distribution is at 2.5 strokes.

I recently did a pingolf tourney and the DI goal was to charge the phone to 200%. Easy to understand, challenging but not impossible to pull off. Interesting because you don’t want to start modes etc so it forces you to play differently.

I agree with the idea of making goals mostly achievable. You want people coming away from the tournament feeling good, and achieving goals feels good. Failing everything all day will make people frustrated and miserable and less likely to come back in the future.


Even if we’re setting the games to 5 balls per game, or would you be aiming more for a 3.5-4 strokes goal there?

Just remember, the more difficult the objectives, the longer it will take everybody to play through.

Try playing a couple of practice rounds and see what your score is. Also time your play to see how long it takes to play through.(if time is an issue).

If time isn’t an issue, then averaging more balls per player means more pinball play for everybody!

I try not to “practice” ahead of an event I’m hosting, but in two runs through the course, I scored a 19 and a 21, and that was before dropping Iron Man to Mark III from Mark IV. Everything else was the same. But I was really feeling the shots, so I could just as easily go post a 40 tonight.

Unless this is for top tier players exclusively, many/most of these are way too difficult.

Something that people forget when setting goals: the players in this tournament only get one attempt, with no warmup or practice. They may not have played this specific machine before, and they may not have ever played the game at all.

My rule of thumb is something that takes 5 or 6 shots (maybe a few more if it’s a single easy, and repeatable shot).

With games on 5 ball, I aim for the average to be around 3. This means probably a third of the players are getting 1s and 2s.

Check out this thread if you haven’t already. It has the goals we used in the largest event that happened in Colorado in 2017, one that included 3 top 100 players. Pingolf: example goals and setting advice

If I were using those games, I’d do:

Spider-Man: Start Blacksuit. This is what we did at Dory Hill. Average strokes: 2.92.

AFM: Start MB (set locks so they need to be re-lit each time), or destroy 2 saucers.

BOP: Don’t know this game well enough.

Tron: Start any MB.

WOZ: Start any MB.

DI: Start MB.

AC/DC: Start any MB. (3.89 stroke average at Dory Hill…and 15m was also an option).

IM: Start any MB (2.46 stroke average at Dory Hill…but I believe Monger was set easier than factory, and whiplash and war machine were set harder).

TZ: I like this one. Start MB through locks. Could be done in 4 shots…but the lock shot can be difficult.


There is a much bigger risk in setting the goals too hard. If half of your players are taking mostly 5s and 6s, they’re not going to enjoy the event. One of the best parts about Pingolf is all the “little wins” that people get to experience. Usually, a pinball game ends with the sadness of losing the ball, but in Pingolf, if you reach the goal, even on Ball 5…you get to walk away having “won” by successfully accomplishing a specific task.


You’e right, its kind of unfair to play in an event that you are hosting. (When I made my suggestion, I didn’t know that you were also going to play)

Event starts at 5:00, but people are free to come and play/practice starting at 3:00. Everybody should get a couple of practice runs at the goals. These guys have almost all played my games multiple times before. I don’t think this will be anybody’s first time on them, save maybe a couple of unexpected late entries. But I get what you’re saying.

Remember, these are all set to 5 ball play, not 3 ball. We are expecting 22 players as of right now, so we can go 5 ball and not be there all night.

All my goals in the other thread, and the average strokes taken to reach them, were for games set on 5 ball.

This should help. But still, goals that require 12-20 shots are going to be difficult.

I’ll repeat what I said in the other thread…I’ve never played a pin-golf event where the goals were set too easy.

Whatever you decide…come back and report the results! :slight_smile:

Will do, and I appreciate all the insight and recommendations!

Setting games to five balls will help with the points spread a little, especially if the goals are hard. You’ll have more players walking away with a 6 :slight_smile: Besides, five balls on DI don’t really make the goal easier to reach because uncollected SIM cards disappear at the end of each ball. So, the five balls give players two extra attempts, but they are just as unlikely to reach it on each ball because they cannot build progress.

Personally, I prefer pin golf with achievable goals and three balls. With five balls, the problem is that, in a match play final, a single bad hole with a 6 can put me so far behind that it is impossible to recover. If the worst score is a 4 instead, it hurts, but it’s still possible to make a comeback.

Never mix three-ball and five-ball machines in the same event, unless everyone plays exactly the same number of games and exactly the same machines. If some people play 5-ball machines while others can play 3-ball machines, scores are no longer comparable because of the two-point worst score difference.

All the games will be set to 5 ball for the event. In the case of Dialed In, I turned on SIM card memory (if you complete a mode, it stays lit after a drain) and will turn it off when I set it back to 3 ball after everybody goes home. My guess is that people will use Big Bang to complete a mode and then spend the next ball or two trying to collect the SIM. I expect sixes on that game, to be honest.

I’m hosting, but not running the event. I was told to set everything at 5 ball, but was given freedom to choose the objectives, so I skewed difficult but achievable. We’ll see if that ends up being a good or bad idea in the end.

Oh then you’d really love Pinmasters format with a 10 stroke limit! I think it adds to the excitement though. You’re never safe in the finals and rarely out of the running.

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It’s funny how perspectives differ, because AfM was one of the ones I thought was OK (I played in a Pin-Golf before where that was one of the holes and I succeeded – and I’m only an average player). The one that really seemed rough to me was the Bride of Pinbolt hole. Well, and Dialed In.

Ah, OK, that makes the goal considerably easier. I assumed that it would be on standard settings. It’s still difficult because the bloody SIM card hole is so hard to hit. But at least, with those settings, many players will manage to get a mode done on ball 1 and then spend the rest of the time desperately shooting for the SIM card :slight_smile:

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FWIW here’s my thinking.
Hole 1: Par 1
Hole 2: Par 3
Hole 3: Par 1
Hole 4: Par 2
Hole 5: Don’t know Woz so can’t comment
Hole 6: Par 2
Hole 7: Par 4
Hole 8: Par 1
Hole 9: Par 1

All of the above can be depend on how the machine is set-up, and you will know that from your testing and experience of machines.

The fact that people won’t have gone for Total Annihilation in normal play is a factor that shooting to destroy cities is the way to score for most, not that it’s too hard to set as a goal.

With that line up of machines I’d go for

Hole 1: Light EB
Hole 2: Start TA
Hole 3: Score a million shot on the centre/Heartbeat ramp
Hole 4: Start Disc
Hole 5: Still don’t know Woz :confounded:
Hole 6: Start a ‘BOB’ Multiball
Hole 7: Light 3 songs
Hole 8: Light Super Pops
Hole 9: Battle the power.

To me PinGolf tournaments should be about getting the player to shoot for something they wouldn’t usually when playing to achieve a high score, making them shoot for other areas of the table.

For example: In Bride, the go to / only strategy is shoot the left ramp all day - your goal doesn’t change from that.


That, or going about objectives in a bizarre or fun way. TZ’s Pittsburgh Classic is X (usually 3) Hitchhikers, Y (3-5, depending on if EBs are disabled) Door Panels. Forces you to work the skill shot for Hitchhikers with the bonus incentive that you can skill shot a door panel if you plunge yellow.

Dialed In is hard with that philosophy because most of the table is useful - I’d say BOB is slightly more important than modes, even. That’s where you pull out a useful skill or wild objective, like BOB Multiball (learn to clear BOBs), Overcharge (QED), Reach a Theater Mode (Wild, and Bonus), etc.

I thought the number of white arrow shots was random for each player at the start of the game regardless of competition mode or settings?

They are all lit. You have to hit all the major shots, then an orbit to start a mode.