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Patrick Sheridan's blog
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Another Trip Down South – Looking ahead to the U.S. Open 2019
13 May 2019 at 21:24 | Posted in: Personal | Views: 2062 | Comments: 0
Putt at the 2018 U.S. Open
This year marks the 6th consecutive year I’ve had the opportunity to compete in the
USPMGA U.S. Open
and my 8th appearance overall in the event’s 22-year history. In this post I’m going to set the stage a little for the tournament, with it coming up in a little more than a week. My plan, as it has been the past few years, is to provide at least a couple “real time” posts from the tournament week, which kicks off for me May 20th, with the actual tournament running May 24th and 25th. There’s still time to join the fun if you are interested!
I’m happy I’ve had such a good run in U.S. Open attendance and am thankful more flexibility in my work schedule and wallet have allowed for the travel, whereas in the past it hasn’t been as easy. (Not to mention a big thanks to Liz and my family for allowing me to travel for the tournament and/or traveling with me when possible). Of the two major USPMGA events, it’s the one that moves around to different courses (a change starting 2008) and some of them have been a bit far to travel to for this New Englander back in the day. Being able to play in the tournament has its benefits, aside from being one of my favorite to play in. Attendance, and good scores, are one of the reasons I find myself able to go to Sweden this year with Team USA. It’s also sees its fair share of very good players from around the country so that makes it always a good chance to network.
This year the tournament goes to its first new course in three years and based on the schedule it looks to be the first new course for the next three years as well. It’s called
and is in Tega Cay, SC, just south of Charlotte, NC. Not only is it a new course for the tournament but it’s personally a new course to play as well. Given the location far away from me and closer to many of the other tournament players, this is going to be one of disadvantages us “Notherners” are going to have to overcome, seeing the course in person for the first time only a few days before the tournament. However, from the pictures it looks like an interesting course with a bit more on the “miniature golf” side in places than traditional adventure golf (i.e. more use of obstacles). Another one of the Northern challenges is the fact that this tournament is early in the year and around our parts courses haven’t been opened for very long, so practice time gets limited for us who are accustomed to snow all winter.
One of the things I like about the Open is that the rotation of courses evens the odds a bit for players as each course highlights different skills. For example, Putt U in 2016 was a very long course with little ace opportunities so your ability to not only hit deuce puts was key but how you set them up was almost as important as you weren’t always trying for the ace. Bluegrass in NJ is one of the “easier” Open courses with much more emphasis on the ace whereas Champions Learning Center in NC was a mix between the two. The average winning scores over the past five years have ranged from 34.8 to 41.6, showing the variety of course styles. That fits my current personal style of minigolf well because I’m still working on my “hit a lot of aces consistently” game (which is going to be rough in Sweden, but that will be another blog) but my deuce game is pretty solid. This would explain why I’ve done the best in the Open when it comes to major events, with my personal best being a top-10. Handicapping the event will be interesting as we’ve had 5 different winners the past five years.
The biggest challenge for me in this tournament, outside of conquering a new course, will be that I’m using a new putter/putter style for this tournament. As I will be heading to WAGM 2019 a few weeks after the U.S. Open, and we’re planning to use the European style minigolf balls on several holes this year, I’m switching over to a rubber-faced putter for the U.S. Open to get in some reps with that style. Instead of converting my normal putt, I went out and bought another
(selecting an appropriately red-white-blue themed one for the occasional) and converted that to the rubber face. It’s a little shorter than my normal putter as well, so there’s a combination of items I will be working through. I’ve played with it some while practicing this past month but haven't really had a chance to use it thoroughly on the course. I'll be very interested to see if I like the putter and end up deciding to use it in other tournaments going forward or if I’ll go back to my more familiar putter. It’s too bad we can’t also use the European style balls in the U.S. Open as well because I’m also lacking in experience with them, only having messed around with them a little on an actual minigolf course.
With that it will be a few days before I fly down to Charlotte along with my minigolf buddy Mark “The Highlighter” Novicki. It’s rare for me to have a traveling partner who isn’t my family so will be nice to have someone to pass the trip with, though the flying part cuts down on travel significantly.
One last thing before I end this blog, and probably something I’ll mention often since it’s a big deal (to me). I can finally formally announce that I will be a contestant on the ABC show
which will air starting June 20th in the US (my episode date has not been finalized yet). It was by far the most unique miniature golf experience I’ve had, and one of the most unique life experiences I’ve had. It’s crazy that it also comes in the same year that I’ll be a member of Team USA, making two experiences I never thought I would have happening within a couple of months of each other. I really think the show will spark more love of miniature golf than there already is and I’m interested to see how much some of the tournament discussion comes through on the show and what interest that might spark. Can’t wait to see it and hope everyone continues to stay along with me for my minigolf ride this summer.
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.
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