On the 20th of June a total of eight hardy minigolfers set off to Motspur Park for the Seth Thomas Merton Minigolf Invitational. Seth Thomas had spent the previous few months canvassing for players and as a testament to minigolf’s enduring and long lasting appeal had managed to procure a field half the size of the British Championships the first ‘major’ of the year to endure his tournament.
Notable absences included ‘Squire’ Richard Gottfried who’s IBS (irritable back syndrome) meant he was not up to the task of competing, his endeavors now lie elsewhere, see a future blog for more details. Also absent from the London contingent was Alan Norman who it was believed was holidaying in Cornwall.
Among this field we had Ollie ‘The Machine’ Florence playing his first minigolf of the year. His attention this year had been drawn away from minigolf instead to worm charming and managing though not as a combination it should be added. We also had the British Number One competing, seeking confidence following successive defeats to rivals in tournament minigolf.
Also competing were the Donnellys and the London contingent led by Brad ‘Frugal’ Shepherd who was hoping to follow on from his success in the WDMIOBCC (Will Donnelly Invitational Open Beckenham and Croydon Classic) provided he didn’t follow through….. all the other competitors didn’t have a problem with this.
Prior to the tournament the TD (tournament director) had bought a trophy of sorts for the winner and medals for the top three. Unfortunately the TD had a mishap with the trophy dropping it and breaking the engraved bit of the trophy off. Luckily sellotape (other brands of sticky tape are available) came to the rescue. Also up for grabs was a Freddo for the aces champion. Plus a bag of different types of chocolate each for the top 3. I also made special frugal cardboard and exercise book paper scorecards in honour of Bradders.
First to arrive at Motspur Park was Michael and Seth. Seth had joined Michael’s train at Earlsfield and had to cajole Michael twice into leaving his seat of two and sitting with him in one of the banks of four seats on the train. This reluctance may have had something to do with the intense mental preparation Michael goes through prior to each tournament, little room for chitchat. Following a small diversion via Fulham training ground Michael and Seth arrived at the course. The man was yet to have opened the hut so we made our way onto the course. When the man did finally arrive. I tried to pay but the man seemed more interested in his phone than opening a till. ‘Paying for tennis?’ ‘No minigolf’ ‘Nah you’re alright’ (Eyes back to phone.)
Eventually everyone arrived I told them we could all play free (the logical extension surely?). We started slightly later than the original agreed eleven-thirty tee off time to give the Donnellys more time to practice and in order to take a photo of the field. You may notice the photo is slightly skew-whiff. This owes itself to the fact I used my minigolf bag as a tripod.
After the first round I was last following a dreadful round of 49 including a 7 on the snail. They say madness is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. Sadly that’s precisely what happened to me on the snail I felt like I whacked my pink World Of Golf golf ball up it about a billion times.
Michael Smith was first. Following the end of our second round at Motspur Park Oliver Florence had to leave. A friend had come down from Cornwall who he had to care for. This was probably for the best as a controversial incident happened on the snail where he used a twig to keep his ball steady on the incline of the snail having replaced it after he hit his ball over the border of the hole.
Finally we went orf to Wimbledon Park. The Donnellys and Michael trailed Chris Jones’s car all the way there. We had to stop at one point ostensibly to let the Donnellys catch up having got caught in traffic lights but also to give Brad’s pub/charityshop dar an opportunity to function.
Having arrived at Wimbledon Park I told everybody to pay for a round and we’d play two. Brad was terrified of having to pay for a second round so I told him that we’d play on until we got kicked off…. I didn’t see this happening especially after what happened in Motspur Park unless the man in the hut or in this case woman own the course they tend to not care especially when it’s council run.
Michael maintained his good form all the way to the end of tournament winning comfortably. Brad came a despondent second. Gareth came third and won the highly sought after Freddo having hit 8 aces over 4 rounds showing marriage and minigolf can go hand in hand…..At least early doors anyway. Despite my ridiculously bad first round I actually came 5th missing a putt on the last to get into a playoff for third.
Despite a great day of minigolf there was a slightly unfortunate end. My camera ran out of battery so I had to take the group photo of the top 3 with my phone unfortunately I did not realise I had maximum zoom on resulting in the worst quality photo taken in history. Some cruel soul said it was probably for the best….grrrrr.
While the London lot went off for a well deserved curry in the restaurant next to the course. We had an unofficial Knowley Grail. No pound entry fee or prize money, no banter. Just a quick test of who could master the Pinky Diver. With a quite extraordinary round of 35 without any dropped shots and including an unfortunate bounce out I became the unofficial Knowley Grail champion. The other three scores were so high I have no means of expressing them with this keyboard.
Thanks very much to those who came especially Michael for coming down from Oxford and Ollie for making his cameo from Guildford.
Hopefully the field will be bigger next year, would dearly like to match the British Championships!
If it was a bigger field I would make it a one course event.
1. Michael 38, 37, 39, 36, +6
2. Brad 39, 42, 38, 36, +11
3. Gareth 42, 40, 40, 39, +17
4. Will 43, 45, 37, 37, +18
5. Seth 49, 40, 36, 37 +18
6.David 46, 40 39, 41 +22
7. Chris 45, 44, 40, 39 +24
DNF Oliver 44, 40 +12
p.s Has anybody seen this man?