So its taken me a while to get back in the groove of being home and finally having a moment to write down about the WAGM in the Czech Republic.
As with any of our ventures to a world mini golf tournament it began with a massive journey from the otherwise of the world. I met up with Bobby Hart at Auckland airport around midday to start the 17 hour flight to Doha and then on to Prague. This boring and normally uneventful trip almost had a sudden detour only 3 and a half hours into the flight. A Lady 2 rows behind us collapsed and the flight attendants spent a while trying to bring her around. Bobby and myself both through that we were about to be redirected to a close airport and stop the trip before it began. Thankfully her condition improved and trip continued.
We arrived into Prague around 7.30am on the Sunday and were picked up by Jitka one of the awesome hosts of the tournament. We spent no time really getting settled in, we dropped the bags at the hotel and made the 800m walked to the course to get our preparation underway. We had some good pre tournament resources in the form of photos and videos of how to play the lanes from Sean Homer. These first couple of days were very productive as we found lines that we were comfortable with (excluding lane 5 which I don’t think anyone was confident on) and sorted out the ball selection. These first couple of days before the course became crowded were awesome and there was plenty of time to catch up with the guys from Team USA and Great Britain.
Tuesday saw the rest of team NZ arrive and this began their crash course in international competition and the European putter and ball selection. The Wednesday saw a cold and rainy day at least for the first half of the day. We passed the time with a trip to a supermarket for supplies and and snacks. Once the rain cleared we managed to start pumping out rounds.
The next couple of days leading up to the start of the WAGM was about refining rounds and shots and getting into the grove as you would do at most tournaments. This surface was unforgiving with very fast carpet and cups that would slingshot your ball if you were a little to aggressive and slightly of line. And before you knew it it was Friday night and the opening ceremony. Its always good to let the hair down (but not too much) before the competition and I was out early at 8.30am.
Day one of competition dawns beautiful and sunny, we get to breakfast at 6.30 and down to the course just after 7 to get a feel of the lanes. My playing partners for the 4 rounds on day one are Harald Exl of Austria and the defending womens champ and course local Katerina Reed. Round one i’m a little slow out of the blocks, I’m 1 over through 9 but come home a little better on the back 9 with 2 under for a round total of 1 under 35.
Round two is my highlight round of the weekend, I ace 3 of the first 4, lip out for 2 on the tough lane 5 but hit back with a very lucky ace on 6. 3 under through 9, the pipe hole number 10 does what it should and goes in (I did find out in practice that it wasn’t a guarantee to go in through the pipe). Pars one 11 and 12, on to 13 which I never got close to acing all week in practice but somehow hit a perfect putt on my preferred line and it drops in. 5 under and trying to keep myself calm. A couple more 2’s then get my own back on 16 which I dropped a shot on in the first round. 2 holes to play with a chance to break 30, shades of my first round on the Felt in Croatia, but like that round I can’t make either of the last 2 lanes, but a out of the blue 30, I’ll take it.
The whole of team NZ came out of the gates quick and at one point were shocking the world sitting in 3rd as a team after 2 rounds.
The afternoon rounds with so much expectation after the 30 don’t go how I’d like them, maybe I put pressure on myself to repeat but I end up chasing the game a little, getting over early in round 3 and fighting back to an even 36 and then being 2 under through 9 in round 4, but taking 4 on lane 11 and a couple more 3’s mixed with an ace for a disappointing 37. However even with those not so great rounds in the afternoon I’m sitting on the cut line for the top 18 at 6 under.
Saturday night at dinner was a great one with the GB crew and David Maiolo. The conversation turned to urban dictionary definitions which would set the tone for some hole in one celebrations and a dance move at the closing ceremony lets just leave that with an ARRRRRRR…
Sunday morning, its still sunny and its time to make a push to that top 18, I set myself a target of 12 under and hope that it will be enough to hold on. Thats a minimum of two 33’s which isn’t out of the question. I’m grouped with Awesome Susy Schappi of Switzerland and Iveta Veghova from Slovenia, two awesome women and Iveta eventually went on to win Silver in the Senior Womens division, the first Minigolf medal at an international tournament by a player from Slovenia.
Round 5 and the plan is in play, i didn’t do anything stupid, I made a couple of good two’s and made the aces when there. Carding a 33 and I’m on track for my goal total of 12 under, and still hovering around the cut line. But like day one the pressure I put on myself leaves me chasing the round, dropping and early shot on 3, getting it back on 7 only to drop shots on the next 2. Its up and down all round and can only card a 36 coming home. My mini golf for the weekend is done, even if I had done what I wanted I would have missed the cut by 1 shot. Watching the top players play that top 18 round showed me what needs to be done to be at that level but being so close to making that top 18 is just driving me to keep pushing myself, I know I can compete with the top guys but just need to cut those couple of rounds where I go nowhere.
The closing ceremony as per the last 2 I experienced last year in Croatia was a fun time, getting to mingle with new and old friends from around the world. Its what makes the mini golf community so great. Getting to hang out and travel with the fellow team mates Bobby Hart, Matt Ansley and John Ansley taking on the world from our little corner of the world. Its almost living the dream. All in all it was a great trip, to a great part of the world with some great people.
***The views expressed in this blog are solely the views of the writer and do not represent the World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF), Minigolfnews.com or any other organization that the writer may be associated with unless expressly stated in the blog***