Pingolf: example goals and setting advice


I was hoping we could have a Pin-Golf Wiki Topic. It would list the machine with both score based and objective based formats. For example I want to run an objective based event at the local gamebar and it would be nice to reference a list so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Knowing which games work well and which objectives work well would be helpful. Let me know your thoughts?

Here are the games I have to work with below and I’m looking at using objective based:

Bally - Addams Family
Bally - NBA Fastbreak
Bally - Safe Cracker (should be replaced with Batman ‘66 soon)
Bally - Theatre of Magic
Bally - Twilight Zone
PPS - Attack from Mars R
PPS - Medieval Madness R
Spooky - Total Nuclear Annihilation
Stern - Deadpool Pro
Stern - Iron Maiden Pro
Stern - Metallica Pro
Stern - The Pabst Can Crusher
Stern - Tron
Williams - Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Williams - The Machine: Bride of Pin·bot (Should be replaced by Mousin’ Around! soon)
Williams - Monster Bash
Williams - Junk Yard
Williams - Star Trek TNG
Williams - Tales of the Arabian Nights
Williams - Terminator 2
Williams - White Water


I put players in pairs and all the games are active at once thus there are always pairs waiting around to jump on a game that frees up. This way the machines are always busy so in my experience I haven’t had any backups. You still get bottlenecks if one of the machines is too long playing, at the end a lot of people will be standing around waiting to play that machine.


Score based really depends on the standard of the playing group and the setup difficulty for the machine. I find that score targets should be much lower than one would expect because of

  1. the pressure of a tournament
  2. players only get one go at the machine, ie they walk up and they get no time to get dialled in on the flippers for that particular machine

These two factors drastically lowers scores. The last pingolf tourney I ran I deliberately set scores very low and all but the best players still complained the scores and objectives were too hard to achieve.

Pingolf is not popular in my area and I suspect it is because most people feel like failures when they play it.


This is what I was talking about… if you don’t pile groups onto every game, then the longer playing games don’t end up with a huge line after everyone has finished the shorter playing ones.


If the most players are taking 5s on holes, then it makes sense people would feel like failures.

On the other hand, to me, Pingolf is great because it’s one of the few ways you can walk away from a pinball machine with success (because you reached the goal while still having balls left to play). In other formats, your ball ends with a drain, and you have failed to keep the ball in play and continue earning points (unless you come from behind on the final ball of the game and can walk away without playing it out).


I don’t play a lot of pingolf so maybe this is super common and just new to me. We played on exclusively three ball games and you recorded a score of 4 if you got half way to the score objective. You only took the full 5 if you didn’t get half way. It removed a lot of 5’s so you didn’t feel like you accomplished nothing if you got somewhat close to the target, plus it added a bit of strategy for your last ball if you were close to the halfway point.


Here’s my holes from a couple weeks ago, holes were arranged as one per machine for holes 1-6 and then a second on each machine for 7-12. 1 stroke for ball 1, etc, 4 if you fail. EBs plunged.

Jjpotc - start 2x playfield (playing easier inlane character was prohibited)
Jjpotc - qualify dead men tell no tales MB (playing easier mb character was prohibited)
Dr dude - earn reflex jackpot (-1 stroke for each increase of the jackpot before earning)
Dr dude - start multiball
Iron maiden - light revive
Iron maiden - start 2x playfield
Johnny mnemonic - start multiball
Johnny mnemonic - light spinner millions
Addams family - score THING (-1 stroke for each star)
Addams family - earn 3x bonus
Tna - destroy a reactor
Tna - earn two mystery awards (this should have been just one, i didn’t know you had to hit the rad targets in order)

I think score based goals are significantly less fun, but also wanted to take the opportunity to teach the other players in my league things about the game they might not know.


Compared to the rest of your objectives, this is a rules knowledge test and is much easier than everything else. I assume it was set up as such?


The score sheets had instructions for each hole on the back and coaching was explicitly encouraged

It also was not the easiest objective, according to scoring average

Iron maiden 2x and Johnny Mnemonic multiball had the lowest average scores.


Praise be to Pintel, Patron Saint of people who like action button management!

Actually, wait… these were multiplayer groups, I assume. That’s explicitly not fair for pingolf qualifying standards…

Edit: I guess this brings up a fair point about JJPOTC in Pingolf - how can we make objectives such that you aren’t shoehorned into too many character choices for qualifying? In finals the gloves are off - pick order can be chosen and strategy can be involved - but in qualifying it should be player vs. machine with other players there for the communal golf feel.


I edited my original post to add that Pintel was prohibited for the 2X playfield hole, and the easier MB characters were prohibited for the multiball hole.


Makes perfect sense then! Not a bad way to get around a lot of the character interactions if you want to express certain rules in the game from a teaching standpoint but keep it competitive.

This is what is really cool about objective pingolf: you can learn a ton about interactions and features that you might not otherwise know about. I remember using the 10M skill shot on TZ to partially circumvent a door panel objective; that strategy caught on like wildfire once it was out in the open!


Your goals were mostly extremely difficult IMO, especially on 3 ball. What were your averages?


I don’t think the goals are too challenging overall (Except the TNA goal) but I suppose the proof is in the pudding.

We leaned towards harder goals because our venue is coin drop and we were concerned that easy goals, achieved on ball 1, would feel like a serious waste of money. We may have ended up weighing that concern too heavily.

The average for all players was 3.59. Our two newest players did not achieve any of the goals. Only one player averaged under 3, and no holes averaged under 3. Two TNA Mystery Awards was not achieved by anyone, nor was the Dr Dude Reflex Jackpot. (The Dr Dude reflex jackpot was achieved on ball 1 and ball 2, respectively, by the two course testers during their practice run.) We had 16 players in the tournament. Another thing to note is that JM and TNA were recently added to the barcade, and not in our previous league season, i.e. pretty or brand new to most of the field. Full report below.

Average scores per hole:

  1. POTC - qualify DMTNT MB - 3.81
  2. Dr Dude - Start MB - 3.75
  3. Iron Maiden - Spell REVIVE - 3.31
  4. JM - Light Spinner Millions - 3.38
  5. Addams - Collect Thing - 3.44
  6. TNA - Destroy a reactor - 3.44
  7. POTC - Start 2X pf - 3.88
  8. Dr Dude - Earn Reflex JP - 4
  9. Iron Maiden - Start 2X PF - 3.06
  10. JM - Start MB - 3.19
  11. Addams - Earn 3x Bonus - 3.81
  12. TNA - Collect 2 mystery awards - 4


I’m sure I posted this somewhere earlier in this thread, but I’ve always aimed for objective based goals could be reached in 5 or 6 shots. Many of yours are 10+.

But overall, none of that matters if the players had fun and weren’t frustrated. Those averages tell me that most players, on most games, didn’t reach the goal. (Those same averages would look a lot better on 5 ball, because it would mean that many goals were reached on balls 4 and 5, which is still a success for the player). What did the players think?


my impression throughout the tournament and afterwards was that they had fun, but it’s hard to know if you’re receiving honest feedback if you’re the tournament runner. there was a level of frustration but good-natured and people enjoyed the format/style.

I don’t agree with your assessment of 10+ shots per, but i suppose that’s a matter of interpretation.

by hole, map to above list:

  1. 2-5 shots depending on strength/cleanness
  2. 8 shots (or some nice bouncing around the mixmaster reduces)
  3. 3-5 on this particular machine
  4. 6 shots
  5. 4 shots from lower flipper, 3 shots from upper flipper
  6. variable, 1-7+
  7. 8
  8. variable, ~6-8
  9. 5
  10. 5
  11. 4
  12. 8