Hi, it's Steve Lovell. I hope wherever you in the world, this finds you safe and well with those you hold dear. As we all know, minigolf has the incredible power to unite us all and during the time of Covid-19, this is heighetened. I've spoken to a few friends around the world to ask them the same three questions about the situation we face.
How badly has Covid-19 affected your country?
When do you think you could be playing minigolf again?
Have you managed to do any minigolf activities at home, like Puttathome or made any obstacles?
I’m going to tidy up all the remaining interviews in the next day or so and I want to thank all the interviewees for their experiences. We’re back in the US to meet American international Brian Johnson, Olivia Prokopova who has been unable to fly back to the Czech Republic, and Tom Loftus from A Couple Of Putts.
Brian Johnson: The effect on the U.S. has been substantial. Economically, many small businesses have closed permanently causing many lost jobs. Some companies, like Amazon and Best Buy, actually came out ahead because of the stay at home. Politically, this has been horrible for us. The way it has been handled has caused an even greater distrust between our two major parties.
My local tournaments have started back up, so I am getting out and playing again already. Which is a good thing because I was going stir crazy. I have been off work since March 16 with no sign of going back any time soon.
During the stay at home I was able to hit six foot putts in my spare room, but nothing else useful.
Olivia Prokopova: Ok, I have two homes, one in the Czech Republic and one in Houston, Texas, where I live with my boyfriend, Wade Sahmel, who is also team USA member. I am now in Houston because I am not able to fly to Prague because of Covid-19. I had plane ticket for April 23 but they cancelled all flights because situation in the Czech Republic wasn't good. We are small country and we have lots of cases and over 300 deaths and Czech government banned all traveling.
We played an unofficial mini golf tournament in Montgomery, Texas, three weeks ago and we also played three Putt Putt tournaments last weekend so we are back with playing and I am so happy!
I bought little hole and I practice when Wade is on a night shift and it's fun, because we have nine months old Great Dane puppy and he loves mini golf balls so he tries to catch them, so he is my big obstacle. Also, Wade and I practiced one night together. He is better at making obstacles so we had lots of fun.
Tom Loftus: Given that the US is number1 in the world in deaths and infections, I’d say COVID is kicking our butts. Closing in on 100,000 deaths and we’re potentially just in the first phase. Even worse, we’ve also managed to make it a political issue where people are mad about not being able to get haircuts and people are upset about wearing masks. It’s late-May and based on health data and best practices offered by professionals, I’d say we’re going to be in for a long ride and several waves which ultimately leads to more deaths, which isn’t good for businesses, including minigolf.
Robin and I have been lucky. We got to play at a course on National Miniature Golf Day in early May. Over the years, we’ve connected with a few local minigolf course owners over our shared passion for minigolf. We have been worried about these owners and small independent businesses that run on tight profit margins already. We thought a few of the owners may be keen on having us document their courses and share out that these places are still here and will be a place to find joy in the future. This led to an opportunity to film and broadcast live at Big Thrill Factory in Minnesota on May 9. We putted for charity, we talked about ways to connect with the larger minigolf world and competed against each other. One of the best / most normal feeling days of the pandemic by far. Our videos were well received and we’re hoping to play and document at these courses in advance of opening to the public. In Minnesota, many courses may not open until July or August. My wife Robin and I will share our photos and videos on our website and social media as A Couple of Putts. We’re also happy to provide the owners of these courses the files to use in the future for whatever they wish at no charge. Why? We love mini golf and are thrilled to get the opportunity to highlight our favourite places to putt. In the short nine years we’ve been documenting the game, numerous courses we love have closed. We’re sadly expecting to hear news of course closures due to the pandemic. The best minigolf courses provide magical experiences and maintain a happy place in our collective memory. Part of the reason we document these courses is to preserve them for history.
We’ve built and designed mini golf holes for the past seven plus years and have had a functional Lil Bub themed hole in our backyard. I try to play / practice regularly especially now that there is no concern of snow for four to five months. I have been enjoying my Putt18 mat and felt honoured to be in the 4 Nations Cup that Putt18 helped organize online. Early on, we shared as many of the #puttathome creations on our social media and were inspired by all of the creative ways people were approaching the game. I’m especially excited about launching a new video talk show on social media with Pat Sherdian of The Putting Penguin. It’s called “We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Windmill” and we’ll be recapping the episodes of the US minigolf obstacle competition show, Holey Moley, each week. We will also discuss topics about the minigolf world as a whole.
Thank you to all of you. I’ll finish this feature in the coming days. Stay safe, everyone.