Interview with Ted McIver and Ruth Burke
26 Jun 2017 at 14:19 | Published by: PatPenguin | Views: 3214 | News search
Ruth Burke and Ted McIver (Photo by Steve Lovell)
Once again our blogger Steve Lovell took some time during his minigolf travels to interview a few names many of you might recognize. The World Crazy Golf Championships in England certainly does attract its fair share of characters but since the inaugural year in 2003, only two people have managed to play in every single one. John McIver, affectionately known as Ted on tour, and Ruth Burke took a few minutes out their practice to catch up with our reporter Steve to describe just what it is like to take part in the biggest event on the British calendar.
Minigolfnews (MGN): Looking back to 2003, what are your memories of the first ever World Crazy Golf Championships?
Ted McIver (TM): Channel 4. A camera crew followed myself and Tim Davies around for a couple of days, in my living room filming the preparation, even the sleight of hand getting on the bus opposite the golf course and then off the bus on the other side. I also vividly remember the last but one round on the old minigolf course. People who play now have no idea how difficult that course was. Even if there was no wind, rain, atmospheric conditions, it was still horrendous. I got a 34 and it put me right in contention. Last thing I remember was playing the final round and everyone cheering on a little girl from the Czech Republic, rather than myself, in my hometown. There was the three-time clang of the water wheel, that was the moment.
Ruth Burke (RB): I remember Olivia on the 17th and if she had knocked the balls out of the way, she could have won. A girl of eight wouldn’t do that.
MGN: What made you want to play in the World Crazy Golf Championship?
RB: At the time, I lived in Hastings and loved minigolf. It was only my second tournament. I loved it.
MGN: Did you think the event would be a one off?
TM: Back then, this was my traditional Sunday. Play football in the morning and come down for minigolf afterwards and have a few drinks. It was a continuation of what we used to do. It seemed a quirky idea and gained momentum. A lot of people were put off by the armoury of minigolf balls that people have so the simple idea of a putter, a ball and the course you used to play as a kid attracted others to the game. I am surprised at its longevity.
RB: I didn’t really think about it but I think with any World Championships and the popularity they have, it fits in with what people like so not really.
MGN: In the early days, it was played over two courses. How did that compare to having to play just the one now?
RB: It was really challenging. Everything Ted said about the old mini course is true. I miss that course. Going between the courses, you had to adjust to the shot length, it was twice as long on the old course. You get onto the crazy and you would be overhitting everything and vice versa. It was a real test of skill.
TM: With the old course, if you shot a 39, you’d be hi-fiving yourself. That was a good score. It was like what you imagine a links course of crazy golf. It was so reliant on the weather. Each time you played it, there would be a different way of playing it. The number of times you would get in a fantastic position and the shots just ebbed away from you. The last time we had a tournament there was a British Championship, a two-day event. You could see the pressure of just getting a two on some holes.
MGN: To someone who has never played in the WCGC, describe what it’s like to take part?
RB: Surprisingly nerve-racking. A lot of people who play for the first say ‘I’m really surprised how nervous I am’. The shots can mount up. You forget about that when you’re practicing but can’t in a round. They don’t realise the challenge of it. The fun side of it is good, I enjoy the practice days more when you can chat to people. I really enjoy that. I would say do turn up for the practice day and try and enjoy the competition.
TM: It is difficult to enjoy it at times when you’re out there. For the first timers, it is so different from just going out and knocking a ball around, because there is no pressure. If you look at the seaside, you see the sea come in and go out. Over the years, we’ve seen players come in and go out. Some who you’ve liked, some who you haven’t liked. You look and wonder where have they gone. It takes a certain sort of person to come back year after year and put themselves through it. Just try and be joyful.
MGN: What makes the crazy course such a great test?
TM: The historical link to Arnold Palmer, the design of the course date back to the sixties (the one in Hastings back to 1974). So many of these courses are being ripped up and built over. Hastings is lucky to have this. If this could be made into a Grade 1 listed site, with its relevance to culture, then this would be. The design of the course is not that easy and being right by the coast, you have the weather effect. Also, using a golf ball, they don’t react well in the wind. You really have to think.
RB:A golf ball is designed to fly through the air, it isn’t what you want on a minigolf course. So that all adds to the challenge.
MGN: What’s your favourite hole?
TM: That’s an interesting question. Probably the ramp at hole 7. It really is such a test of the correct weight of shot, hitting the right spot and the rebound back so that you know if it goes in, you really have played the perfect shot.
RB: I like 14, with the double waves and the platform. It’s that combination of line and pace. It’s great when it goes in and if you land on the plateau as well, that’s good. You can get a second putt from anywhere on that lane. A true test of skill.
MGN: Do you have a particular year or moment that stands out?
RB:There was a year I got two 31’s. I was way off the cut and it was when we used to do a shotgun start. My last hole was 16 and I put it back into the ditch. I could have easily ended up with a 36 but I got it in. That was a nice moment.
TM: In ’03, leading in the last round and then hitting the water wheel. It’s still being shown on television, people still recognise me from that. Another one, I had been to see Scotland – Moldova and came back the day before. Also, 2011 as I was two shots off winning. That year, there was about seven people that could have won it. When you look back over seven rounds, you just think ‘two shots…’ and I’d have won it.
MGN: You both have good records here. What keeps you both keep coming back to have another go?
RB: You know the lines, you hit the ball, you get an ace. That feeling is always the same. When you see a four-year old get an ace, jumping in the air. That’s how I feel. Who wouldn’t want to feel like that! You get so many more opportunities in minigolf than big golf.
TM: To recapture that feeling of harmony between yourself, the ball, the putter, the course. It is difficult to explain to somebody. There is something about the adrenaline rush you get from it.
For our summary of the WCGC results this year, click here.