I admit that the prospect of being a three-peat winner of a minigolf tournament was very alluring. Over my competitive career, I’d classify myself as successful but with only a few items that have really stood out over others. Being only the second person in the 39 year history of the Farmington Miniature Golf Tournament to win back-to-back in 2020 was certainly one of them and I was looking forward to perhaps staking my claim in history with a third win in the celebratory 40th year. Alas, in a tournament that was plagued by some bad bounces and terrible holes for all the top competitors, I just couldn't squeak out that victory.
This was the 8th year I would tee it up for this tournament and the year I probably practiced this course the least. I had played it a few times with my family during 2021, including some winter outings and had played a couple of my fellow Northeast competitors (Aaron Kaminski and Justin Pelletier) in more “official” matches during the summer. Until I stepped on the course at 7:30 that morning, I had played no practice rounds for the tournament, which was very unlike me. At this point though, I thought there wasn’t much more I could learn from the course. It was all about executing what I knew and getting a few lucky bounces.
The tournament this year was a little different than the past two years, which also peaked my interested to seeing if I could win in three different formats. In 2019 it was the traditional 3 rounds over 2 days format, and then in 2020 it moved to 2 rounds in 1 day in part due to COVID. This year the course decided that 2 and a HALF rounds would determine the winner and all be played on one day. Of course, the original day that it was schedule for there was something else that decided it was a going to take precedence – a hurricane/tropical storm. This moved the event to my birthday weekend, which I took as another good sign.
With it being just 45 holes there was going to be no repairing so I would be playing the whole tournament with Dan Hurley, who I knew from the Matterhorn leagues and whose son Jonah famously beat me in a playoff the first year of the Matterhorn tournament, and Brian Mays who I wasn’t familiar with. Both gentlemen were a pleasure to play the tournament with and both ended up walking away with prizes at the end of the day. Unfortunately, I would not complete the threesome of prize winners.
While not a perfect start, I thought the front nine of my first round was ok enough. I dropped a couple bad deuce putts but recorded an ace and sitting at 20 after nine wasn’t terrible. Things immediately went south from there as I didn’t see a 2 for the next 5 holes. This included failing to get through the barn which I don’t think I have ever done in my life and certainly not in any league or tournament round I’ve ever played at that course. I stumbled into a 45 at the end of the first round and it wasn’t looking good for my chances of repeating. My only solace at that point was that I had a bad first round last year but still managed to win the tournament because this course had a way of being all over the place sometimes.
I thought my run of bad luck was continuing as I started off the second round terribly with another 3 but quickly made that up with an ace and back-and-forthed it to a 19 for that front half. At that point I started to realize I was playing the front half better than most of the field and that gave me another spark of hope knowing I’d get one more crack at it. But I couldn’t keep up that momentum as I made another series of stupid (albeit it smaller) mistakes on the back nine, including another miss of the barn. I would come to find out, though, that this tournament seemed to be the same for everyone. Through two rounds there were only two sub-40 rounds, which was out of place for that course. Almost everyone was talking about bad shots and severely missed obstacles. Once again – a spark of hope that I wasn’t totally out of it!
However, like the rest of that up and down day, hope found a way of getting crushed by a bad mistake. During the few bits of practice I had, I had missed the windmill a couple of times and that sneaking doubt that I had talked about with the alligator at Tee Time started coming in, but in the first two rounds I had made it through. This time, though, I pulled it and missed the windmill and instead of trying to play it safe, I went aggressive for the deuce save and ended up putting me further in the hole and taking a 4. I would make up for it a bit with an ace on the 8th hole, one that I always feel I should ace, and ended with another 19 on the front nine.
Because all of us are too impatient to wait for the final scores to be posted, we of course talked through where we were and I was super surprised to figure out that it looked like I had the 3rd best score. The only problem with that is that three people were tied ahead of me, which meant I would finish 5th overall. It was respectable, even if it wasn’t in the money. I wanted to beat myself up for some of those missed shots, especially the two on the barn, since the difference between me and first was only 2 strokes but I consoled myself with the fact that everyone, including Justin who finished on top, seemed to have those issues and if the luck changed for me a bit, it would have likely changed for them too.
But like nearly every tournament, I walked away from it positively. I had fun with my playing partners, one of my friends won, I got to see Biggy (who stopped up for the weekend and we hit up another course after), and the course owners seemed happy with the event. Because of all the back-to-back events, I’ll have another post soon about Dolphin and then Matterhorn leading up to the Master’s in a few weeks. Happy putting!
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