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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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United States of America  Smitty

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

A Banner Almost Birthday
10 Sep 2020 at 13:16 | Posted in: Competition | Views: 209 | Comments: 0
A Banner Almost Birthday
My and My Mask

When I made the decision that I wanted to play the O-Street $1,000 Tournament down in NJ it was done mostly with the thought of supporting a fellow group of minigolf fanatics and Holey Moley alums. I had yet to make it to any of their tournaments and with the schedule being funky this year with other life/minigolf events due to COVID, when I found I could make it I jumped on the opportunity. It was a nearly 4 hour drive down there so I decided to head down Saturday afternoon (my birthday), stay the night and then drive back after the tournament. Despite it being an off year for vacations, I knew it was going to be a little expensive to stay given it was the Jersey Shore but it was worth it to play in another tournament.

A drive down to the NJ shore can always be iffy from Connecticut due to the need to cross the Hudson and then it always seems like every highway in NJ has traffic on it. But I was spared anything too bad and got to the hotel early evening where I met up with my fellow Penguin, Mandy Ranslow. The rain had just moved through so we spent no time taking the additional 30 minute drive to the course and would have been the only ones there if not for fellow CT putters Justin Seymour and Anna Wallace. I loved my first look at the course. Mandy had played it earlier in the year when O-Street had their winter classic there but it was my first time through. It was a classic seaside miniature golf with a nautical theme, plenty of obstacles (only a couple holes with straight no-obstacle shots) and they were all raised up on wooden platforms, which meant there would some unplanned breaks or movements if you had to stand on certain places, and some putts you’d have to make with the ball above your feet.

As per normal, I played the course once through without any practice. It was an ok round and I was able to quickly figure out most of the holes in terms of what would be ace-able and what was going to cause some troubles. From there it was practice time, working mostly on tee shots but realizing that the course was soaking wet and speed would be different by the time we teed off at 11 the next morning. With the exception of 3 or 4 holes, I didn’t expect to worry about too many deuce putts given the holes were fairly short and any misses left short second putts. I felt ok by the time we wrapped up to grab dinner but knew I’d need more reps the next morning. Of course, it wouldn’t be a minigolf trip without hitting another course that was down there so before I got some food in me, I had to put in a round at Pirate Island. It was a nice course, which itself would have been good for a tournament.

Once again routine felt nice as I was up kind of early to be at the course around 8am. The extra time before the later tee off was good because over the past few years I’ve taken not only the role of playing in the tournaments but trying to document them and do a lot of social media from them. I’m under no illusions that this is some great form of journalism or that people are chomping at the bit for the coverage, but I know some people like to see what’s going on and I think it’s important to our sport overall that this information is out there and archived. Otherwise a lot of this would be lost to the history books. With three hours I had plenty of time to work the course a few times again, refining a few tee shots and practice just a handful of deuce putts (which came in handy later). After that it was time for a quick breakfast break, some Facebook live and generally just taking some time to rest as the course was now filled with the tournament practicing. There would end up being over 40 people playing the tournament and with the size of the course it was now quite packed. I felt pretty comfortable that I had gotten what I needed and was ready to go.

Taking the break also gave me the chance to meet another Holey Moley contestant in person. Marni Van Grouw from the first episode of season 2 was in from PA to play the tournament. I had “met” her previously when Tom and I had her on an episode of We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Windmill. It was great to see that Holey Moley was having a direct influence on competitive miniature golf and I can only see that continuing to be an impact the longer the show airs. It was one of the prime reasons I decided to do the show.

While ready to start the tournament, I also was thinking I wanted to have one of the later start times just to see how people were playing. With only 2 rounds there was no re-pairing so to get a feel of how you were doing against everyone else, there would be a lot of word of mouth. This shouldn’t matter much, since you should always be playing the course, but there were a couple of holes where you might need to make a decision between aggression and safety, like I had done on hole 16 a week before in Farmington. Of course this thought lasted about 5 seconds as I was called into the first group of the tee, playing in group with a father (Barry) and his 10 year old daughter (Holly). They were nice folks and Barry was very much into it when he learned my background in tournaments and I appreciate his goal was to try to keep pace with me. Turned out that was going to be more difficult that I would have thought.

I went off the tee first and was happy to sink the ace right off. This tournament was also strange in that while there was a lot of people standing around waiting for their name not a lot of people were watching the first players go, so the ace went by in relative anonymity. I would sink another ace on hole 4, which was a bit unexpected given my practice and kept pace until I dropped an easy one on hole 8, giving me 17 for the front 9. I got through the difficult boat on 12, only dropping a shot because I left my long second putt on the lip, but I was still happy I got through the boat. I would make that up with an ace on 15, drop another on 16 which is the almost impossible deuce hole and then get very lucky on 18 to finish with another ace. I knew I had a good round going and realized when I dropped that ace that I had shot a 35. I was happy figuring I had set a good pace to follow and was even more ecstatic when Aaron Kaminiski (who you know as El Presidente from O-Street and Holey Moley) told me it was the course record. However, imposter fear does get to you sometimes and I started thinking that if I did that well then someone else must be able to shoot the same score or better.

With that in my head it was time to start the second round, which I did in a similar fashion getting kicked off with an ace. Unfortunately, I would drop that shot immediately on hole 2 but ping pong back with another ace on 4. This time around the tough hole 6 would get me. It’s a speed shot through the lighthouse where you are trying to keep it on a plateau. Too light and you’ll break and miss the lighthouse or not get over the small ramp under the lighthouse. Too hard and you’ll end up down the back of the hole with a putt up over the ridge. In the first round, I was down below but nailed the second shot as it had gone to a place I practiced from. This time around, I was right against the ridge and beef the putt and the one that followed, leaving me with a 4. Though I would again get another back on hole 9 giving me an even 18 going into the back nine.

I hate thinking about my score during a round but it was impossible not to. Everyone had been talking and it looked like the next lowest score in round 1 was Justin with a 37. I knew that if I came in around 36 it would be almost impossible for anyone to beat me. Between this bit of pressure and Barry telling everyone he could see that I shot a 35 in the first round, I knew I had some work to do. I got through the boat with a 2 but then dropped a shot on the easy 13. Try as I might, I wasn’t able to make that one up but I was clean until the 18th. I looked at that hole knowing a 2 there would give me a 38 and leave me in just about the best possible position. A 34 would then be needed to tie me. I actually don’t think this got in my head as I was pretty happy with my tee shot. It wasn’t an ace shot but I must have hit it too hard and it came back to the tee. Now the pressure was on. I needed to hit this to have a chance at a 4 and salvage a 40, which I knew would be borderline to keep my lead. A miss and I would be sitting 5 and likely have blown my chance at the win. Again, I went a little less aggressive not fully committing to the ace shot which also had the higher chance of bouncing back. Luckily it went through, got a good roll and didn’t go out of bounds and I sank the shot to seal the 40.

Now there was just the waiting game (which isn’t as good as playing Hungry Hungry Hippos). As the first one in, I had the whole field behind me and I resisted the urge to walk around and see how folks were doing. It was hot, I needed some water and to be honest a break from masking wearing for a bit. It wasn’t bad breathing but with the big beard I’ll admit a few straight hours with it on made for a bit of a sweaty mess. As the scores trickled in, I started to get more confident that I had made the top spot and about 2/3rds of the way through the groups ending were my last real competitors and they posted their scores and confirmed the fact. I was a little shocked given my MO isn’t normally to show up at a tournament for the first time and grab it by the horns but perhaps that’s a sign now of experience coming into play given my past few years of results. Only took me nearly 20 years to get there! It was just icing on the cake to also take the aces titles and my first competitive course record. All in all, not a bad belated birthday present!

Importantly it looked like a lot of the players had a good time and I was happy that through myself and several of the others playing, they got more information on the world of competitive miniature golf at large. If even a couple of them play in another tournament, it will be an overall success for the sport. Up next for me is the Lee Stoddard Dolphin Open, a mainstay in Northeast minigolf, so will have a report from there soon as well.

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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