World Champion Melanie Hammerschmidt
20 Oct 2017 at 10:08 | Published by: Sheila | Views: 1669 | News search
Melanie Hammerschmidt in action during the 2017 World Championships. (Photo by World Minigolf Sports Federation)
A few years ago, at the World Adventure Golf Masters in Hastings, one of my German friends, Sigrid Eilert, told me to ‘watch for Melanie, she is very good’. I took note. From that day, I have always looked out for the results of Melanie Hammerschmidt, seeing her progress. Now, Melanie is the World Minigolf Champion. Steve took time after the event to catch up with Melanie and ask about putting strokes, playing for Germany and that final round in Croatia back in September.
SL: Hi Melanie, tell me a little bit about yourself.
MH: Hi, I’m Melanie Hammerschmidt, I’m 24 years old and work as a software engineer for a big bank.
SL: First, I would like to congratulate you on becoming the new Women’s World Minigolf Strokeplay Champion. How long did it take after the tournament before it seemed real?
MH: Thank you. I think it doesn’t seem real until now (five days after the competition when this interview was held). It has been a big dream of mine since I started playing, I think everyone who plays sports can understand this.
SL: When did you start playing minigolf? I think some of your family play too.
MH: It started playing twelve years ago. Yes, both my mother and father play too. When I was young, we managed our own minigolf course in Germany.
SL:Where did you learn your putting stroke from? It is very distinctive with the high follow through.
MH: When I started playing minigolf, I played on the different side. In 2012, I decided to switch to my current putter and focused on a new technique, which I have being playing ever since.
SL: Let’s go back a couple of years. Am I right in thinking that the first time you played for Germany was in Hastings for the World Adventure Golf Masters in 2015? You finished in an excellent sixth place. Did you expect to go that well?
MH: My first international competition was in the youth (U23 competition against Switzerland and the Youth Nations Cup in Waldshut in 2009). Sadly, those tournaments weren’t the most successful. Hastings was a great experience for me. I was so happy to be the first woman to play in the WAGM for the German national squad. It was amazing to be that successful, in team and individual.
SL: Ever since then, you have won a medal at every major championships. Silver at the matchplay in Lahti, bronze in the strokeplay in Vizela and, of course, gold and bronze in Nin, as well as all the other team medals. Which of those tournaments has given you the greatest pleasure?
MH: I think the first world event at Lahti in 2015 has been the greatest experience in my sports career. The reaction back home were so unbelievable.
SL: From the outside, we look at the German teams for the international tournaments and see how talented they are. Is it harder to qualify for the German national team than play in the international events? How does the selection process for Germany work?
MH: In Germany, we play in a national league to qualify for the national championships and team. The head coach looks at all the qualifying rounds and data and, of course, the national championships. Additional to that, we have extra training sessions where we can all practice together.
SL: Onto Croatia, when did you arrive for the tournament and what did you think of the set up and resort at Zaton?
MH: We got Zaton on September 9th (the Saturday BEFORE the WAGM) but went there for two days to practice back in May. It was relaxing to go to the course without needing a car. Everything can be reached by foot. To use the beach and pool to relax was very comfortable for me.
SL: Over the first two days, you were putting some good rounds together but Karin Olsson was just edging ahead. Were you happy with how you were playing? At the start of the last day, you were eight strokes back from Karin. Did you think you could catch her and were you surprised to have done it by the end of round seven?
MH: Of course, I knew Karin’s name and I knew it would be really hard to gain strokes on her. I felt good and confident about my putting stroke. To have caught Karin after round seven was really challenging but pleasant too.
SL: Into the last round, you were one shot behind Karin. What did you do to relax and keep your concentration?
MH: Before starting the last round, I was quite relaxed. There was a small distance to third place, so I was excited for the coming fight for first place and enjoyed the match.
SL: Tell us what you can remember of your final shot, knowing that if it goes in, you are the World Champion. Most people will never know that feeling.
MH: The last lane was really crazy. Many people told me afterwards they were really nervous and did not see my tension. I’m sure it was far more exhausting for me. Of course, I knew that I had the one shot lead but I felt the support. I had imagined such situations in practice many times before. Getting the ace in reality was such a great feeling. All the pressure dropped straight away.
SL: What’s next for you in minigolf?
MH: In the fall, I shall play some indoor tournaments and practice my technique.
SL: Would you consider playing one of the big American tournaments or the World Crazy Golf Championships in England where they only us the one golf ball?
MH: I already use most of my vacation for minigolf. If there is some rest, it would be an honour for me to represent Germany in such tournaments. Maybe one day, I will show up for one of them.
SL: Melanie, thank you so much for your time and once again, well done. Gluckwunsch!