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Argentina  INESfun

22 Feb 2020 at 13:37

There are about 300 recesses on one golf ball, and thanks to them, the ball flies three times farther than a smooth one. ... Balls of the same size...

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07 Jun 2023 at 04:45

Jason and team make this place beautiful and the tournament is fun and well run.

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A 2023 Masterful Experience

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We’re All Loony Here....

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30 Apr 2023 at 13:57

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United States of America Patrick Sheridan's blog« See all PatPenguin's blogs

Sixth Times a Charm
28 Aug 2019 at 13:24 | Posted in: Competition | Views: 5229 | Comments: 2
Sixth Times a Charm
Highlighter and Me rocking the Randy

The summer months in the US are home to a lot of local course tournaments (defined by me as those not part of the USPMGA or Putt Putt official tours, but just held by local course owners). One of the longest running ones in the country is the Pat Guglielmo Memorial Farmington Miniature Golf Tournament, which turns 38 this year. Despite being the tournament that is closest to me geographically in the 40 years I’ve lived in Connecticut, it took me until 2011 to play it for the first time. This was in part because of the timing in August, as I tended to have a lot of things going on personally so there were sometimes conflicts. The lack of play was not for lack of trying and the course is also home to the first Putting Penguin review, so we feel tied to it spiritually (though in looking at our review – it’s time for an update!). I wrote about the tournament the last time I played, where I feel like I lucked myself into a Top 3 finish. I had originally intended this post to be a short look at another local tournament, but fate (and my inability to stop putting words on paper) intervened so you get 2,800 words on the subject.

In that post I didn’t get much into the course itself. The course is very much an “old school” minigolf with rough concrete edging and a variety of interesting hole designs and classic obstacles. There are four moving obstacles, three pipe holes and one shot over water. Unlike some courses, you don’t have the option of avoiding these obstacles so you’re forced to take your chances. The combination of design, edging and obstacles make a consistently low score on this course difficult. In general, you are looking to stay under 40 and if you can flirt with 36 in at least one round you’re in the running to win the tournament. There was an added complication this year in that just weeks prior to the tournament the course recarpted, which was needed. The old carpets were fast and the new carpet changed the play fairly significantly on some of the holes – some for the better, some for the worse. I got to practice twice before the tournament. The first time was mere days after the new carpet was installed. My score was less than ideal. The second time I played was a couple of weeks later after the carpets had gotten some traction and I was down to 37, giving me a good feeling that I had a handle on the play.

In looking back at my last blog, I see that perhaps lack of sleep is a theme for this tournament as this year attempts at full nights’ sleep not only the day of the tournament but a few days before hand were hampered by my lovely one-year old daughter. That being said I was at the course by 7, the first competitor there. We couldn’t get on the course until 7:30 as they were still cleaning everything but I like to just have a few minutes to myself to relax, post some social media stuff and get in the mindset of being on the course. The most important point for that was that I was wearing a shirt from
A Couple of Putts. It wasn’t my normal tournament attire but I felt with the two days I wanted to support some of my minigolf friends who couldn’t be there. I wasn’t sure how many folks would be at the tournament this year as I knew they have been having troubles getting some of the crowds that attended in the past. In part, it’s because some of the family groups that brought 3-4 people have had kids grow and move away, leaving 1 or 2 at best from that same family attending, and we haven’t been able to replace that gap. I think the other part is the two day format, 2 rounds day 1 and 1 round day 2. It’s just harder than ever now to get people to be able to commit to two mornings on the course. I can’t think of a single other non-major minigolf tournament in the US that is a two-day format, except for the Maine State Dolphin Open which just returned to that after 3 years being one day. Increasing youth and women participation in our events continues to be a struggle.

This year my group was first off the tee and I was paired with Anna Wallace and Tim Guilford Jr., both experienced putters at this tournament. Just like my last appearance I started the tournament with an ace, though this one I felt was a little lucky as I fired it into the back of the cup, perhaps overcompensating for the slow carpet just a tad. From there it was a solid start, playing clean through 8, including picking up another ace on hole 6, one of the three pipe holes. The course, or my terrible putting as Joe Tessitore might say, would bite me as I missed the entrance to the castle on 9 and pulled into the first turn at 17. Two holes later, the water hole would bite me, not because of the liquid but because I didn’t read the break correctly on my second shot. This would have implications in the next round as well as I over-read the break from a similar location and booked another three on that hole. With just the “Around the World” hole (a hole in the form of a ribbon where you must go “around the world” and hope the ball trickles down toward the cup at the bottom of the ribbon) snagging another bogey on me, I would chalk up a solid 37 to start the tournament.

Despite my never-ending advice to myself and others about not worrying about others’ scores (since there is nothing you can do about it), I heard Justin carded a 36 in the first round and that Tim Stratton, with 4 aces in the first 8 holes, was sitting right behind me with a 38, as well as Dylan Koerner with a 39. With just three rounds in this tournament it’s always close and it looked like today would be no different despite the smaller field.

Round 2 is where I felt the wheels starting to fall off and I caught myself thinking back to my last appearance where I blew up with a 43 in this round. I took what could be seen as a “bad” three on the windmill. It was a long putt but should have been makeable. The problem was I followed that immediately with a terrible tee-shot on the 5th (and looking back I’m wondering if the way the new carpet was installed has changed the ricochet shot on that hole) and had another bogey. This is where I think I learned a lot from my first couple of rounds in Sweden in terms of just playing each hole one at a time. I feel like with the added element of having to select the right ball in the European tournament helped me to slow down and approach each hole uniquely versus feeling like I was playing a “round.” With that mindset I tried to settle on the tough double-level pipe hole 6th. Up and in it went, got a little lucky with the roll out and boom, an ace to get one of those bogies back. I then brought myself back to even on the 8th, which is a touch shot uphill to a plateau – too fast and you’re way in the back. I would ace it again in the 3rd round and only missed the ace in the 1st round by about two inches. The threes would catch up to me again on the back nine on 11 and 14 and then a terrible tee shot that bounced around inside the church drove me to bogey going out. However, I was still happy keeping it under 40 with a 39.

Because it’s Farmington the scores got crazy in round 2 and Dylan tried to drop the hammer on all of us, carding a 35 in the second round to take the lead over myself by 2 shots. Justin sat 3 back of me. Unless there were some blowups, we were the three realistically in the running for the win and we’d be grouped together on the next day. Overnight it poured rain and when I arrived again at 7am on Sunday the course owners were out there diligently clearing the course for play. On this day, Highlighter and I would be wearing bright orange “Randy Rice” t-shirts, which you can see in the photo above, again supporting one of my minigolf friends. During practice we noticed it was going to be a bit damp in a few areas and wouldn’t dry up since it was only one early round. I made a mental note of where I saw that maybe being an issue.
My goal for the round was to play as clean as possible. I decided I wasn’t going to try to chase aces to make up the gap. Too often when you try that on this course it turns on you. With it only being two strokes I figure I could put the pressure on by staying away from bogies and forcing Dylan to do the same. I also told myself not to think about the scores and the gap, which lasted until the third hole. That was when Dylan took a 4 after his tee shot left him short of the pipe and thanks to my 2, we were all of a sudden tied up with 15 holes to play. Justin had given up a couple of strokes early, so it was realistically down to us two. I gave Dylan the lead back on the 5th with another less than ideal tee shot compared to his excellent deuce putt but then tied it immediately back up on the 6th when he got a bad break with the ball spinning out of the concrete upper cup. With the aforementioned ace on the 8th, I pulled into the back nine with a one stroke lead.

If you think not thinking about the score is tough when you’re trying to come from behind, it’s even more difficult when you find yourself in the driver’s seat with the number of holes winding down. For a brief moment I thought I’d get some breathing room as I got lucky on the Well, another pipe hole, where I got the ace. However, Dylan immediately followed with an ace of his own keeping the pressure on. The 13th is where I feel like I hit the worst shot of my tournament. It wasn’t a long second shot but I pushed it, thereby giving a stroke back to Dylan and tying us going into Around the World.

I don’t care that this is “just” a local tournament with relatively low stakes, there’s nerves and excitement when the situation is like this. If you like sports, how can you not like a tied match, five holes to play, none of them are easily aceable and at least two are known bogey creators. The best part is that anyone can put themselves into the excitement of this situation – this isn’t a tied baseball game in the bottom of the ninth – it’s accessible to all. I highly suggest you try it.

Dylan teed off first on 14 and started to put the pressure on by getting a great roll down the ramp, one of the best I’ve seen on the new carpet. It left him with a very makeable two. I had an ok roll but it was a long putt with a heavy break and my chances of making it were probably only 10%. Fortunately for me, Dylan just pulled his putt. I couldn’t capitalize on it, however, as my attempt wasn’t even in the neighborhood of being close. So we sat tied, getting through 15 fairly clean. The 16th is another decision hole – do you putt it straight up the narrow, and slightly offset to the tee, channel for the shot at an ace, or take one of the two longer, “safer”, ways around and hope you don’t get hung up with a bad bounce so you have a decent deuce putt. The downside of the narrow channel is that it’s often a killer and a bad bounce there can leave you trying for a 3 or worse.

For Dylan, the risk was worth it as he referenced playing safe in last year’s playoff on that hole as to where he lost out on a shot at winning. I actually had no doubt he was going to make the channel, the only question I had was would it drop and force me to go for it. Luck was on my side again as he made it through but missed the ace. This allowed me to play it safe and I was left with a fairly easy second shot, although some of those putts were known to move more than one expected. One could question whether I should have gone for it, or if they should go for it in a similar situation. All I can say is you know your own strengths and trust your gut when on the course. I had decided I wasn’t going to make risky shots chasing a win when I started the round and I made sure not to change that decision then. It ended up being the right play. It was then onto 17, the triple wave hole where you have to settled it between wave 2 and 3 for it to trickle down to the lower green and a shot at a 2.

For the 2nd time in four holes, the door would open for me when Dylan left his tee shot short of the 2nd wave. This meant if I could settle it in as I had done the first two rounds, I had a very good shot of taking the lead going into the final hole. Alas, I couldn’t come through though. I thought I had hit my shot perfectly but as it was going over the second hill I started to get worried. There was a tad too much pace on it. Up the third hill it went…and…it stopped. Right on top of the third hill. It wasn’t as bad as going over, but there was nearly no way to card a 2 from that position. So there we were, one of us short a hill and another one sitting on top of it. Threes for both of us ensued without much drama and we moved onto 18.

By this point, I was mentally preparing myself for a playoff, which in this tournament was a full 18 holes for first place as you can watch from the
2018 final. It’s not that I was selling myself short on hole 18, it’s just that I know it’s a terribly difficult hole to consistently ace and it was much more likely that one of us would “lose” the tournament with a three on that hole, like I had taken in the previous round. With Dylan still having honors, he shot before me and settled the ball in an area for what should be an easy two. Justin had already went as well, leaving me last to tee off for the hole. While standing over the ball, all I told myself was to hit it clean and get through the church. I even stepped back and waited for another cycle of the church doors opening and closing just so I didn’t rush myself. I struck the ball well, with a little extra pace to make sure I didn’t leave it short. I wasn’t too worried about a huge kick off the back wall since you really had to crush the ball to get that. What caught me, and most folks watching, by surprise was that I expertly missed the cup on the way past and got about the perfect kick off the back wall, sending the ball directly back into the cup. Perhaps I should have bounced it off the paparazzi on Holey Moley?

I let out one of the largest yells I’ve ever given on the minigolf course and there was a decent amount of surprise from the “gallery” as well, since most of the competitors were there watching us. Unfortunately, no one got the moment on camera (it’s usually me, Liz or Mandy trying to film things and none of us were available) but I can assure you it was epic. While it was an exciting win, what it more was taking a title of another local tournament, leaving me with really just one more (our own Matterhorn International Pro-Am) to get before expanding my horizon for local tournament and focusing on the majors. I know I’m pretty good at this game but wins always help to validate the resume.

Up next is the Maine State Dolphin Open, where I’m currently on a hot streak. The competition looks like it will be tough this year and it’s expanded back to 10 rounds, which is always a grind. Here’s looking forward to a trip up the coast!

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.

» Final Results
Comments (2)

United States of America PatPenguin (Patrick Sheridan) | Delete

30 Dec 2019 at 13:04
If you do, then would love to have you provide your own detailed account of taking out a reigning champion :)

United States of America dtkoerne (Dylan Koerner) | Delete

30 Dec 2019 at 00:40
Thank you for the detailed account of my loss. Congrats on the win and I hope I’m going to be better than 2nd place next year.
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