“House of Holes, Derby (X-Rated)”
13 minute read
To ‘putt my ball into a hole’ always felt like an innocent expression until I visited the House of Holes
Because Derby’s brand new indoor crazy-golf venue takes a long-standing traditional vibe and flips it right on its arse, offering a unique and not to mention X-Rated experience to its visitors.
With blow-up dolls parading the walls and an array of dildos preventing your hole-in-one, House of Holes is a cocktail made up of fun, filth, and escapism.
But before I take this any further and go balls-deep into the story, let me take things back to the beginning.
About two weeks ago I had an email drop into my inbox with an invitation to the ‘soft-launch’ event, which took me completely by surprise. I had absolutely no idea why I’d been selected for this, but it soon became apparent that my name had been put forward by the crazy-golf legend, Richard Gottfried.
I’d gotten to know Richard (and his wife, Emily) while pursuing my latest series of concept adventures, known as Meeting the Dull Men of Great Britain. After spending a day together playing crazy golf in the Derbyshire town of Glossop, a friendship was born and the latest instalment in the series was written (check it out – Meeting the Dull Men of Great Britain: The Crazy Golfers).
But it seemed my crazy golf adventures weren’t over just yet.
At the time of receiving the email I’d never even heard of House of Holes and I had no idea of what it was all about, but there were two huge clues in the message.
First of all, it proudly stated that it was Derby’s first ‘adults-only’ indoor golf centre. Yet my poor innocent mind (cough) thought…
“Hmmm, maybe this is just a way of keeping away any noisy and mischievous children and that it’s just for grown-up responsible adults. Yes, that must be it.”
The second clue was in the actual name of the venue. The first time I read it, my innocent mind (double cough) didn’t register it as being naughty in any way whatsoever. But as I continued to read those two key things out loud, over and over, I started to get a little bit suspicious.
“Adults-only. House of Holes. Adults-only. House of…HOLES?”
Hang on, now that sounds just a little bit suggestive. I clicked on the link and read through the accompanying article, and there it was; the undisputed confirmation of what I’d already begun to suspect.
“House of Holes will boast 18 individually-themed holes decorated with memorabilia, shop mannequins and…”
I held a hand to my mouth and gasped.
I was shocked!
This invite seemed crazy, the concept was outrageous, and it sounded totally and utterly bizarre. And so I hit the reply button and gave the only response that could be given to such a naughty invitation…
“Oh HELL YES! Count me in!!!”
I took along two of my best friends to the event, both of which are named Kev. Now to have two friends with the same name isn’t normally a problem, but when it comes to telling a story it can make things a tad confusing.
Therefore for the sake of clarity I’ve decided to change Kev’s name to Rick, and the other Kev’s to Luke. There are reasons for choosing these names, but to be completely honest you don’t really need to know what they are and it’s not actually all that interesting.
Sometimes the mystery is far more exciting.
Rick, Luke, and I arrived at House of Holes and were immediately made to feel at home. We were guided straight through to the bar area and within a matter of moments I had a glass of prosecco in hand.
After clinking our glasses together and taking a sip of the fine bubbly, we were welcomed by a friendly young lady who began to tell us all about the venue and what we could expect from the evening.
“When you’re ready to begin playing you just need to head over to the desk on the left, and if you’d like us to look after your coats then you can head upstairs to the cloakroom.”
We thanked the lady then decided to have a wander around. The golf course circled the entire perimeter of the ground floor and there was a second bar located in the middle of it.
I looked around and saw some superb artwork, an airplane hanging from the ceiling as if in mid-flight, and there were two shop mannequins stood either side of a bright neon guitar. Music pumped out from the sound-system, provided courtesy of a live resident DJ, and the place had the feel of an alternative kind of nightclub.
Just above my head was a series of wall lights with colourful plastic covers, each of which illuminated a different ‘position’ you could try when taking part in, ahem, bedroom activities.
As I was contemplating the flexibility that would be required for one particular ‘position’, my eyes lowered to ground level where my gaze fell upon a set of rather large dildos.
“Are you enjoying the view?”
I turned around to find a well-dressed lady smiling at me while looking around the room with pride. She was clearly a part of the venue.
“Actually I was thinking about how inadequate I’m feeling right now.” I joked (sort of).
There was an awkward silence as the lady didn’t quite know how to read me, and I could see Rick and Luke running around in the background and making jokes about a fake vagina.
The lady laughed nervously and ran her fingers through her hair.
“Well I’ll leave you to take a look around and I hope you have a good evening.”
She turned around and walked away from me.
And I couldn’t blame her.
Smooth Elliot, smooth.
Rick, Luke, and I made our way upstairs and headed over to the cloakroom to hand our coats in.
“So what did that lady say to you downstairs Elliot?”
“Nothing. Nothing at all. Hey look, there’s a pool table!” I said, changing the subject and pointing through a set of double doors that had the words AN4L and BUTT above them.
We handed our coats in, bought another round of drinks from the bar, and then made our way over to the pool table.
This spacious first floor area was decked out with sofas and chairs, and the walls were covered in old vinyl records. There was a bar on one side of the room and a small kitchen on the other, and an open balcony area offered a great view over the golf course below.
Before we knew it a lady approached and offered us a snack from a tray full of street food, and we gratefully accepted.
“Have a great evening.” She said, leaving us each with a dumpling on a stick.
And what an evening it was turning into. It was still early, and we were in this bright and vibrant venue with a full evening ahead of us. We had food, beer, and a pool table; and the crazy golf was still to come!
Rick slammed the tip of his pool cue into the white ball and sent it flying down the table, cracking it into the triangle of red and yellow balls and sending them flying around the cushions.
“Good evening gentlemen.”
Another lady had come to welcome us and to see how we were enjoying our evenings so far.
“It’s brilliant.” Rick said. “We came to play crazy golf, but then we get pool too!”
It turned out that the lady was the resident DJ, and so when I explained that I’d be writing a feature about the venue I asked if we could have a photo together. She obliged, and also asked if we had any requests.
My heart was screaming out for The Beatles yet this wouldn’t really have have fitted in with the 90’s R&B vibe that the venue was currently offering. And so my mind went blank.
“What you’re playing is already great! I’m happy with this.” I said. And then we said our goodbyes and the lady returned to her turntables.
Luke had won the first game and so I was up next. As I completed the break and smashed a yellow ball into the corner pocket, we were approached with yet another tray of food.
“This is like heaven.” Luke said excitedly, stuffing a piece of barbecued pork into this mouth.
And it really was an incredible opening to the evening. Without doubt the staff at House of Holes were going all out to offer the best possible experience on this launch night, and as somebody who has worked with customers all my working life, it’s something that doesn’t go unnoticed.
We felt welcome, we felt valued, and above all else, it felt genuine.
“Aim for between the legs” I yelled at Rick.
We were at the first hole and faced a row of mannequin busts. In this situation a more skilled and ambitious crazy golfer would perhaps go for the between-the-legs short-cut, but Rick played it safe and ventured around the mannequin.
I would’ve poked fun at him for doing this, but Luke and I both ended up taking exactly the same approach. The only difference was that when I took my shot I ended up walking face-first into a pair of legs that were hanging down from the ceiling.
Yes, you read that correctly.
At the end of the first hole Luke and I were level on three shots with Rick falling behind on five.
We took on the second hole and smashed through the third, but it was on the fourth hole that we encountered the blow up dolls and the first skill shot of the evening.
A hole in one just may have been possible, but this would mean firing the ball cleanly over a narrow bridge. The sensible golfer could have played around this, but as three men together we knew there was no option other than to go for the skill shot. It’s just how we roll.
Luke went first and missed the bridge completely, finishing the hole with three shots.
I went second and managed to clear the bridge, but finished it with two shots.
Rick however, managed to smash the ball cleanly over the bridge and bagged the very first hole in one of the night.
At this point we expected the dolls to suddenly inflate in celebration, but instead they remained limp against the wall and in full flaccid mode, with a shocked expression spread across their faces.
The fifth hole proved to be seriously tricky; with two separate ramps that led up into a wooden house where the ball would roll down a third ramp and onto the final green. It sounds simple, but Luke made such a hash of his attempts that in the end he had to concede the hole with nine shots.
After seeing Luke’s disastrous attempt I stepped up nervously.
I coughed, shuffled from foot to foot, coughed again, and then started doing hip circles.
“Get on with it dickhead.” I heard from behind me.
“Okay, okay.” I returned. And then I fired the ball up the ramp, heard a loud clunk, and then it rolled down the third ramp and fell straight into the hole.
“No fucking way!” Luke bellowed.
With all my heart I wanted to play it cool and to step away without even acknowledging what I’d done, but instead I fell to my knees in full BOO-YAH celebration mode.
“Okay I’ve got this.” Rick said, stepping up to have his go. And then he lined up his shot and tried to do the same as I did, but instead the ball flew straight out of bounds.
“Oh, bad luck.” I said with sincerity, but on reflection it must have sounded like blatant sarcasm.
In the end Rick finished the hole with eight shots, and along with Luke’s nine this allowed me to take a comfortable lead. But could I hold onto it?
After the next hole we decided to go and have another beer before continuing with the rest of the course.
We took our drinks and leant against the railings, looking out across the ground floor. The place had really started to fill up and House of Holes seemed to be at the peak of the evening. We hung back for a little while and then discussed what we thought of it so far.
“It’s a great place they’ve got here, but it’s definitely a niche thing.” Luke said.
“It is. But I think that’s the point really.” I returned. “Yes it’s taking children out of the equation, but it’s focussing on the adults and then giving them a little extra.”
“Yeah so rather than just being a child-friendly crazy golf course where the adults could also have a drink, this is saying let’s focus on adults-only and then dial it up to ten.” Rick said.
“True” Luke agreed. “And it’s located in the city centre so you could come here towards the end of your evening…”
“…or at the start of it.” I added. “If you’re like us old farts and prefer to have a day session on the beers then you could come here, have a few drinks, a steady game of crazy golf, and get your day off to a fun start.”
We all nodded and then sat in silence for a moment.
“Are you boys ready to carry on?” Luke asked as he stared into the bottom of his empty glass.
“Sure am, but I’m going to the bathroom first.”
I wandered into the toilets and stepped towards the urinal. As I unzipped my jeans and prepared to let out the obligatory sigh of relief that accompanies the emptying of a beer-filled bladder, I looked up to find comic book paper covering the wall. In fact it covered all of them.
But this wasn’t the Dandy or the Beano; and I wasn’t looking at Desperate Dan or Dennis the Menace. Instead I was faced with some excerpts from Viz magazine and of a purple-headed space rocket that had two testicle shaped fuel tanks attached to it.
“Well there’s something you don’t see every day.” I muttered to myself.
The dick theme continued two holes later, because as I fired my ball off the tee I then found myself wandering into what can only be described as an Aladdin’s cave of sex toys. There was a glass cabinet full of the things, but I had no time to stop and peruse the contents as I was conscious of the queue building behind me.
I swung my putter and smashed the ball out of this kinky-corner and back out into the main room, but as I wandered back out I suddenly found myself coming face-to-face once again with the collection of dildo’s I’d encountered earlier.
There were pink ones, black ones, long ones, thick ones, curvy ones, straight ones; all poking up out of the ground. And it’s an obstacle that you need to negotiate carefully, not just with your golf ball but also with your footing. After a couple of drinks the last thing you’d want to do is slip and fall onto one of these.
In this modern age of social media and live feeds, that’s one meme you don’t want to become the star of.
The next few holes took us into an entirely different area of the venue where some exceptional graffiti-art dominated the surrounding walls. Illuminated with some wonderful UV lighting, it felt like stepping into an entirely different world, and one that was far less risqué than what we’d seen so far.
And in all honesty this balance worked really well, because if the adult magazines and vibrators had remained in your face (excuse the pun) all evening, then it could’ve become a little tedious. But this section came as a welcome break and kept House of Holes’ adult elements intact rather than casting itself as a one-trick pony.
I spotted Luke chatting to a young couple and so I approached them to say hi. And bizarrely enough it turned out to be the artist who had created the artwork in this section of the venue. What were the chances? I couldn’t believe my luck and I listened with enthusiasm as he told me about his ambitions for his work. Sadly I never got his name or contact details, but if by any chance he’s reading this article then please do drop me a line and let me know how you’re getting on. The man has talent!
As we exited this funky corner of House of Holes we found ourselves facing the final two holes of the evening; the first of which gave a nod to the venues previous standing as a Chinese restaurant. With a table-top start that made use of the restaurants old sign, the obstacles at this hole also incorporated a sink and cooking appliances. It’s a great little touch.
And it was right at this moment that we were greeted by one of the venues directors, Daniel.
As we discussed our thoughts about the venue and how we saw it being used, Daniel mentioned something that we’d not really stopped to think about. While our thoughts had been on drinking and incorporating the venue as part of a night out with friends, what we’d not stopped to think about was work nights out and as part of encouraging team building.
Because what better way is there of building relationships than having a little fun and escapism?
We thanked Daniel for a wonderful evening, shook hands, and then moved onto the final hole of the evening. This was it, the moment of truth!
“What do you think the final hole will be?” Luke said.
“Well don’t most crazy golf courses end with a windmill?” Rick offered.
“Yeah but somehow I don’t think that will be the case here. It wouldn’t really be in character with the venue would it?” I questioned.
“Maybe it’s another big dildo.” Luke suggested.
I laughed. “Or maybe it’s another shop mannequin with legs akimbo? You know, opening and closing, opening and closing…”
“Yeah and you know where you’d have to putt the ball!” Rick cried.
I won’t tell you what the last hole turned out to be, but I can tell you that it didn’t feature any legs and it didn’t involve putting the ball where the sun doesn’t shine. It was, however, something pretty cool indeed.
Give it a go and find out for yourself.
As for the final score, let’s just say that an earlier hole proved to be definitive after all.
As the night drew to a close we wandered back to the cloakroom to pick up our coats, handing our tickets over to the young man behind the counter. While we stood waiting I took one last look around.
I’d come along to the House of Holes expecting it to be purely about adult themes, but it offered way more than that; the artwork, the music, the friendly atmosphere. In many ways it could be described in the same way as you’d describe your perfect partner; naughty but nice.
I leant back against the counter and then turned to my left, noticing an old piano that graced the back wall of this top floor. I smiled as my gaze fell upon a set of teddy bears that sat atop the piano, adding a slightly innocent edge to what had been a mostly x-rated evening…
…or maybe they weren’t so innocent after all!
Do you like Crazy Golf? And do you like holes? Have you visited the House of Holes in Derby and do you have any thoughts to share? Are you thinking of going and have any questions you’d like answering? Do you have any general thoughts or comments you’d like to leave about crazy golf, holes, or dick shaped rockets with testicle shaped fuel tanks? If so then please post your comments below so we can get a conversation started, or drop me a line via the contact page.
If you do visit House of Holes then please do let them know that you read all about it on Lossul.com. And no, I am not on a commission – it would just be really cool to know that this article has reached out to people and had an effect.
And if you know of anybody that you think would enjoy this feature then please do feel free to share it. And you can visit the House of Holes website by following this link.
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