Going Down Under for Minigolf
06 Feb 2017 at 14:52 | Published by: PatPenguin | Views: 1927 | News search
Allan Cox & Lucy Giesen (Photo by Allan Cox & Lucy Giesen)
Editor’s Note: First I want to apologize to Australia. I can only pick one flag for an article so I went with New Zealand on this part as we’ll be doing a second part specifically on Allan so we’ll use Australia then! However, we did sneak both into the picture. » New Zealand Minigolf Federation
In taking over as Editor I wanted to try to do more interviews not only because I’m always interested in learning more about my fellow miniature golf enthusiasts but it’s nice to see how the rest of the world enjoys our sport on a personal level. For this interview, we reached out to the Putter King himself, Allan Cox from Australia as well as Lucy Giesen, member of the WMF Athletes Committee and Women in Sport Committee, from New Zealand. We wanted to get their insight on how minigolf is faring “down under” and where they see the sport going. In the second part of this interview, we’ll focus on digging into Allan’s love of trick shots. Steve Lovell contributed questions to this story.
Minigolfnews (MN): Based on what I've (Editor) seen, mini golf down under seems pretty similar to the US. Do you see yourselves more aligned with the US state of putting versus European?
Allan: Competition / Professional Putt Putt Golf has been played in Australia from the early seventies. The mid-seventies saw an Australian as runner up in the Putt Putt World Championships. We can compete at that level. So we play basically a similar system to the USA. We have tournaments on MOS adventure style courses also. We do not have any European type courses in Australia.
Lucy: The NZ Minigolf Federation is very new and in 2015 we sent a team of 6 males and 3 females to compete at the Minigolf World Champs for the very first time. At this event, we were all blown away by how different the courses are in Europe compared to NZ. Not one of us had ever seen the golf balls, putters or surface which we played on during this tournament. However, we all thoroughly enjoyed learning a new dimension to the sport and plan to bring this style to NZ. The only style of courses which exist in NZ at the moment are MOS / Adventuregolf. However, having now played on surfaces such as Eternite, I believe that NZ and Auz have an opportunity to learn the skills and compete against those countries in Europe - we just need to build some courses here first.
MN: What got you involved in the world of minigolf beyond the level of family outing/date night/fun with friends?
Lucy: Growing up in NZ we would often play minigolf as a child which was a family fun activity. However, playing it as an adult is not as common in NZ (unless you are a parent). I was given the opportunity to attend the World Champs as part of the very first NZ team, and this experience opened my eyes to an entire new world of Minigolf I had no idea existed! Now we plan to not only help increase participation of the sport, but to also introduce a competitive element, (which is something most kiwi's naturally find themselves doing when they play a round). Now they can compete for a title, or an opportunity to represent their country in a sport which very few people know has an international circuit.
Allan: My wife and I played once a week at a course near home in Bankstown. When the course owner a PPA pro took an interest in my scores and informed me about competition in 3 different divisions. I tried it and realised how different competition mini golf was to the hit and giggle variety. From there I was hooked.
MN: How would you describe the competitive minigolf world in Australia/New Zealand?
Allan: Our organised competition is restricted to local competition here in Sydney, with quite a few Mini Golf courses organizing their own competitions. It is hoped with the Oceania official WMF coming on board this competition can become more formalized.
Lucy: In New Zealand it barely exists. Some minigolf courses have their own local tournaments, however this is the first year we will be organizing the NZ Minigolf Open, something which most people laugh at when they initially hear the tournament is going ahead. It is not until they realize we are serious, that they decide maybe they have what it takes to compete.
MN: Where do you see the world of competitive minigolf going in Australia/New Zealand in the next five years? It looks like the major tournaments are now starting up - do you think it will hold and expand?
Lucy: Yes. I see a huge future in both NZ and Auz in the next 5 years. We are only just getting started. Because it is a sport that anyone and everyone can play (and most people have done so), and we have only just stumbled upon the international circuit, we see a great future. Club, regional, national and Oceania tournaments is what we are aiming to create down the line. Both NZ Golf and Golf Australia are part of this movement which is a key factor.
Allan: The Australia Mini Golf championship will now be an annual event. Expansion is definitely possible. A team to the world championships an achievable goal.
MN: Are you both playing the New Zealand open? What do you expect from the field in that tournament and do you have a prediction for how you will do?
Allan: Yes I will be competing. With limited preparation it will be difficult to take on the vastly more experience kiwi's. I hope to be competitive against players who are on their home course and who have been the the Mini Golf world championships. Looking forward to the challenge, should be fun. Love a little Trans Tasman rivalry.
Lucy: I am part of the organizing committee so I won't be playing in it on the day. However we are aiming to get some high profile players and celebrities to play in the tournament. The ideal scenario would be to have some coaches and PGA players to compete, particularly as we don't want the NZ tournament to be taken out by an Auzzie!
MN: Do you have any special routines/superstitions when you play either casually or in tournaments?
Lucy: Mine is to have at least one practice swing before each tee off shot.
Allan: No routines as such. Just plenty of preparation and practise are keys for me.
MN: How would you describe your practice style? Do you grind out long hours on the course or do you like to take a more relaxed approach to getting into the swing?
Allan: Long hours of preparation for me are a must. For the Australian open, I spent close to 80 hrs on the two Harris designed and built courses. An USA pro give me some advice back in 1997 that I have never forgotten. One of the game’s best - Brad Lebo.
Lucy: I am fairly relaxed. I like to also practice on the putting green of a golf course to get my eye in and nail a straight shot regularly.
MN: When playing casually what are the types of things you like to see in a minigolf course to get you to come back over and over?
Lucy: Hole in one's.
Allan: Aceable and challenging holes. A well maintained course is a must. Friendly staff also a biggy.
Thank you to Allan and Lucy for taking the time for this interview!
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