A first-of-its-kind putting stadium in Las Vegas required an innovative temporary venue structure tailored to suit the needs of the sport, explains Populous’s Bobby Sloan.
In the autumn of 2015, Montreal-based MSOP Entertainment called us a with a dream and the beginning of an innovative idea: bring the action of an authentic 18-hole putting course from city to city by means of a mobile flat pack setup.
The touring putting facility could pop up at competition sites around the world, infusing the sport of putting – one putt, one ball, one hole – with the high stakes Las Vegas thrills of having thousands and potentially millions of dollars on the line. Within 24 months of that initial phone call, our design team is delivering a game-changing event to the public called the Major Series of Putting (MSOP).
“Prior to meeting with Populous we had one idea of what our venue should look like, but after our initial visioning session we quickly realized we were creating something completely new,” says Guillaume Béland, president and general manager of MSOP Entertainment.
“With Populous’ creative guidance we were able to produce a first-of-its-kind world-class putting venue. We are extremely proud of the final product and can’t think of a better way to introduce the MSOP to the world.”
The inaugural tournament features 10 days of action-packed competition in Las Vegas, Nevada, the entertainment capital of the world, with professional and amateur golfers alike competing for a large cash prize. For months now, golfers across the country have competed in qualifying rounds at select golf courses in North America for the chance to win a place at the MSOP.
Visioning a new sport
After an initial visioning session with MSOP in October 2015, it became clear this venue wasn’t going to look or feel like a traditional golf course. The facility needed a modern look representative of the sport of putting. Realizing we needed to make a strong statement we kept coming back to the beauty and simplicity of the sport – “One putt, one ball, one hole, sink it and you win.” As conversations evolved from ideas into sketches, the circular form of the cup and the ball and the inherent connection of the two started to fit the bill of what a temporary putting stadium should look like.
“Designing the MSOP stadium was a unique experience because there is no precedence in place. There is no such venue in the world,” says Jeff Keas, Populous principal-in-charge for the project. “We had no boundaries in developing the conceptual design and therefore we were able to explore countless new ideas in order to help MSOP create their vision.”
Evolving out of those initial sketches are two prominent features of the facility: a first-of-its-kind circular field of play with an elevated ring enclosing the entire facility called the halo. The statement of the circular field of play allows for a natural front and back nine along with maximum views to the field of play, patron flow and integration of skills (wagering) games. This format encourages 360° movement so fans never miss the action of their favorite putter. In addition, in the spirit of enhancing competition, a central playoff hole was designed to break ties and focus the attention to the center when all the money is on the line.
Blurring the lines
MSOP stadium caters to the way the modern fan watches and interacts with sports. It satisfies fans’ needs by placing them closer to the action and allowing them to participate in the game. This temporary venue blurs the lines between fan and athlete more than any event in the industry right now. All facets of the venue are designed in a way to encourage participation – whether it be the million-dollar putt, skill games, tournament play or cash games. There is truly an experience for everyone at MSOP.
The stadium accommodates 2,000 spectators but encourages fans to explore. One noticeable difference between MSOP stadium and a traditional professional stadium is that there isn’t fixed seating for spectators. This was designed purposefully. Seats are available in the clubhouse bar area, and standing or walking room is available in the walkway surrounding the course as well as the outfield area.
The construction of the temporary facility began on August 28, 2017, and it was ready for the world stage two short months later. What once began as an empty blacktop parking lot right off the world-famous Las Vegas Strip was transformed into an innovative, authentic putting venue. It will just as quickly return to its original state, leaving no permanent structures behind.
Bobby Sloan has more than 11 years of project experience including multiple Olympic and World Cup bids, the Fort Bragg Game, NFL Super Bowls and NHL Winter Classics.
November 1, 2017