Battle of Hastings: World Minigolf Champs in 3 weeks!

Hastings Adventure Golf
The Battle of Hastings starts on the 10th of June

Hastings Adventure Golf lies on the seafront in the shadow of the ruins of Hastings Castle. This quintessential British seaside town, town, famous for a certain invasion rather a long time ago, sees a newer invasion every year in the form of hundreds of avid mini golf enthusiasts, who descend on Hastings for the World Crazy Golf Championships. Brandishing putters rather than swords, they are of all abilities from novice to professional (uniquely, it’s an open competition), and compete for the coveted trophy. The tournament has its own unique set of rules, including the condition that all players must use the same type of ball. This contrasts with some other minigolf championships where a selection of balls with different properties can be used, and players select the desired one for each hole.

In 2013 an 18-year old Czech, Olivia Propokova, was both the first lady winner and also the youngest. Michael Smith has won it for the last two years, with Sean Homer never far behind. This year it kicks off on the 10th of June and lasts two days. The course presents many challenges, including a waterwheel, a windmill, an obelisk, lighthouse, ramps, bends, twists and bunkers. The top players know each hole inside out and are frequently able to hit a hole in one. The winner is the one who hits the most – and it’s usually tight at the top, with play sometimes going down to the last hole and the victor winning by a single stroke.

Here’s a video taken at the 2014 World Crazy Golf Championships, in which Sean Homer, Chairman of the British Mini Golf Association, talks about the World Minigolf Federation’s efforts to get Minigolf into the Olympic Games. There’s no good reason why it shouldn’t be included in the Olympics. It’s competitive, watchable, tense and requires great skill. Who knows? Maybe in a few years we will be watching Michael Smith and other top players kissing their gold medals on the Olympic podium. We’re keeping our Putterfingers crossed for that!

British Open: Who will don the tweed jacket this April?

BMGA minigolf British Open 2017
Worthing is where the real magic happens. On the seafront, just up from the chippy

As Augusta, Georgia fills up with golf Masters Tournament fans from April 6th, Britain’s minigolfers will be drawing equally large crowds at Splash Point Mini Golf in Denton Gardens on the seafront at Worthing, just up from the chippy. In a stunning timetable clash with golf’s Masters Tournament, the BMGA British Masters is taking place on the very same weekend. Augusta National Golf Club were unable to give a reason for the calendar bungle when Putterfingers called them for an explanation.

This mistake was easily avoidable. Surely the U.S. Masters could have been moved to another weekend? The pro golfers would have understood. However what’s done is done, and it means that fans of both sports will have to check live results as they watch the other tournament. It will be a weekend of twin battles: one for the coveted green jacket of the Masters and the other for the just-as-coveted and only slightly ketchup-stained tweed jacket of the BMGA British Open.

BMGA minigolf British Open 2017
Oh yeah, that is happening as well.

Splash Point is a challenging course run by BMGA rivals Anthony Pope and Peter Emmerson. Richard Gottfried’s definitive blog post about the course gives it a whopping nine out of ten for all three criteria: difficulty, creativity and atmosphere. It will sort the men from the boys at the Open with its tricky holes. However players will already have a good feel for the course, because, like its ‘big golf’ equivalent Augusta National Golf Club, Splash Point has hosted the British Open for the last six years.

In what could be shock news, Minigolf superchamp Michael Smith has not yet registered for the tournament, according to the BMGA website at the time of writing. The list of registered players can be seen here. Smith has been dominant in recent years, and his absence, if confirmed, would lay the field open for a mighty struggle for the tweed jacket between the likes of Steve Lovell, Tiger Pragnell and Adam Kelly. However it’s possible he is playing cat-and-mouse with his opponents and will sign up at the last minute. Make them sweat, Michael.

BMGA minigolf champion Michael Smith
Bubba who?

For those unable to secure tickets for the event, score updates will be available via the BMGA’s website.

For all your minigolf needs, including sports bar minigolf hire during both tournaments, call Putterfingers on 08450 570 321.

Putterfingers.co.uk

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Minigolf technique: finding your groove

Minigolf can be a carefree day out, a serious obsession, or anything in between. Where do you lie on this scale? Have you played a few times and started to hanker after a better score? Or are you already impressing your friends and wanting to improve your technique to shave a few more strokes off your rounds?

Here are some general suggestions on minigolf technique. We should start out by saying that there is no one-size-fits-all set of instructions on how to putt successfully. The beauty of the game is that different players will grow into a style that works for them, and each player looks a bit different as they putt. But there are some basics that apply to everyone, and this Mr Bean-style video covers a few of them. Actually rule number one should be ‘don’t dress like him’.

So, bring your own putter if you have one because you’ll be more used to it.

Walk the course before you start and check out any imperfections in the edges or putting surface that might affect your shot. Walking it also gives you a better idea of distance.

Observe the timing of moving obstacles (if any) to help you time your shot just right.

Focus. Tune out all distractions.

Hit the ball just hard enough to get the desired effect, no harder.

Now for actual putting technique.

The backhand grip is the most common grip used by pro minigolfers. If you are right handed, your right hand is above your left hand on the grip of the putter. It gives firm control of the putter and requires less movement of the upper body when playing a shot. Not every minigolfer uses this grip but some pro ‘big’ golfers have stated that they wish they had started out with it rather than the forehand grip.

Experiment with how far apart you place your hands on the putter grip. It will affect how much force you can easily get into a shot. If playing on beton or eternite, less force is needed so you might have your hands closer together. If playing on felt or astrograss, especially on long holes, you are likely to need more leverage to get the required power, so move your lower hand further down the grip.

Stance is very important too. It is a balance between stability and upper body movement. The feet should be no less than 30cm apart. Any closer together and you are sacrificing stability. Many good minigolfers will adopt a much wider stance than this, which is great for stability but allows less ‘pendulum’ effect of the upper body, so the arm muscles are more involved in the shot. It is generally easier to play gentle shots accurately with a wider stance since you are not swinging your whole body at the ball. Bend your knees a little, but not so much that your legs get tired. Keep your heels on the ground throughout the shot so as to preserve the solid base of your chosen stance.

minigolf technique, putting technique, improve your minigolf scores
Keep your heels on the ground!

The head of your putter should be at 90 degrees to the intended direction of travel of the ball and the head should rest horizontally on the putting surface when you are sighting. Find a putter that fits your stance to achieve this. There are also putters with adjustable-angle heads to help you address the ball perfectly.

So there are a few pointers on technique. Apart from that, it’s practice, practice, practice!

For all your putting equipment and minigolf hire needs, visit www.putterfingers.co.uk

 

New minigolf course in Burnley

New minigolf course in Burnley

East Lancashire has acquired brand new minigolf and short game practice courses at Prairie Sports Village in Burnley. The golf training centre and driving range has added the £75,000 new facilities with funding from Sport England. It features a 9-hole minigolf course with holes inspired by famous golf holes around the world. It comes in addition to the £2.5 million Prairie Sport’s Village’s existing driving range, bar and bistro, 3G artificial turf floodlit football pitch and modern changing rooms. Putterfingers supplied a selection of putters for the courses via European Golf, the artificial turf specialists, who laid the putting surfaces.

Prairie Sports Village
The bar and bistro at Prairie Sports Village

At the official launch, Burnley Mayor Counc. Jeff Sumner said “This is the final piece of the jigsaw and it looks fantastic. There’s a big difference from how it looked a few years ago and it is a privilege to have these facilities on our doorstep.”

Paul Foster, Burnley Leisure’s Head of Development, said “It provides another activity that we can now offer to families with young children, women and young people who want to have a go at playing the sport. We want to encourage as many people as possible to come along and play mini golf.”

Read more at: http://www.burnleyexpress.net/news/hole-lot-of-fun-as-prairie-sports-village-unveil-mini-golf-launch-1-8194416

Interview with Michael Smith!

Michael Smith tells all in interview

Michael Smith minigolf champion
Smith is still the one to beat. What makes him tick?

Putting superchamp Michael Smith has spoken to minigolfnews.com in a full-length interview. What we all want to know, of course, is does he give away any of the secret sauce that has built his minigolfing success to its current level of dominance? Let’s pick a few points from the interview to build a profile of Michael Smith: the man behind the putter.

  • He played golf for a decade and got down to a handicap of 11.
  • He is a fiction writer and is hoping to complete a fantasy series and a political romance trilogy.
  • He is studying criminology at the University of Leicester.

In his own words

On his dominance: ‘I have a number of rivals who are technically excellent and extremely motivated who, to quote Alex Ferguson, want to knock me off my perch. People try and find different ways to beat me and it will be inevitable that at some point, I will have a dip in form. There are four or five people that are capable right now of being number one and I genuinely expect to lose it at some point.’

On match preparation: ‘I have a course note book for every course and that will include putt maps, not as detailed as some others, but it will include the putts I will get most often. I rarely look at them because of the 45 second rule to take the shot, by the time I get the book out of my pocket, turn the pages, look at it, I find it difficult to keep to that time limit. If I have enough practice time, I can commit things to memory.’

On his putter: ‘I get a lot of banter about my putter from fellow pros, saying it looks cheap, horrible, tatty. I’ve been very lucky that not only do I like the putter but it feels comfortable. There is no way on earth that I am going to change it. I have this fear that like Stephen Hendry, when he lost his snooker cue, he was never the same player again. I’m never planning on changing it.’

On his potential retirement: ‘Winning the WCGC meant I protected the ranking and gave me a new lease of life. It took some of the pressure away and was the key factor for me to keep going. I take things tournament by tournament now, which I think gives me a little more freedom.’

On what keeps him going: ‘I foolishly set myself the goal of overtaking Tim Davies as Britain’s greatest ever minigolfer. If I knew at the time all the effort and energy that would take, I wouldn’t have set it. Through good or bad, I am committed to seeing that through. There is one record I am after. Tim finished seven different years ranked number one, I currently only have five. I would love to at least get to 6 and then try and level it.’

Read the full interview here.

In other news

Football celebrities have given minigolf’s image a boost by being snapped playing it in between matches. Paul Pogba and Gareth Bale have both wielded putters for the cameras in the last few days. Bale is a self-confessed golf nut who has a fantasy 3-hole golf course in his garden, and wants to be a golfer when he retires from football. World’s most expensive footballer Pogba was spotted at Manchester’s Paradise Island course in the Trafford Centre, probably trying to forget about Man United’s performances this year.

minigolf course at st andrews
Minigolf elevated to the level of ‘big golf’, at its spiritual home, St Andrews.

Newcastle city centre bowling alley Lane 7 is to open a crazy golf course. They offered a pop-up course for 12 weeks in 2014 which proved popular, and manager Charlie Snow is glad to see its return, which was overdue: ‘There was a lot of disappointed punters when we ended the golf the last time round. Its return is long overdue and we’re pretty certain it’ll be in big demand for the upcoming Christmas party season.’

Some videos have emerged of the course we reported on last week, created as part of Scotland’s Festival of Architecture. It is set up near the first tee of the Old Course at St Andrews for the Dunhill Links Championship.

 

Latest news from Planet Putt!

What’s going on in the minigolf world this week? Here’s a digest of news from puttingland. If we’ve missed anything important, please let us know and we’ll try to include it next week.
First, let’s have some minigolf trick shots from People Are Awesome.
Check out the video of awesome putting trick shots
More outstanding ball skills – this time in serious competition – came from superchamp Michael Smith on the 16th of July when he beat 36 other players to take the Cambridgeshire and Essex Minigolf Club Open at the Dunton Hills Family Golf Centre. Well done Michael. Long may your reign continue.

Michael Smith crazy golf champion
Michael Smith pictured winning the 2012 World Crazy Golf Championship

New course openings

Pirate Cove Adventure Golf has just opened on the seafront at Aberavon, Port Talbot. It features piratey stuff: galleons, treasure chests, sharks and the like. The development has been made possible by a successful bid by Neath Port Talbot Council to the Coastal Communities Fund, which is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estate’s marine assets.  It is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It’s open daily from 9:30 am to 8:30 pm.

New minigolf course, wales, aberavon, port talbot
Council Leader Cllr Ali Thomas OBE pictured with Mike Newman of course designers The Natural Play Company at the newly-opened Pirate Cove Adventure Golf course.

Bolton’s Market Place Shopping Centre now boasts an adventure golf and jungle play area in a former loading bay beneath the shopping centre. While kids will love the rope climbs, Jungle Express train, slides and other fun stuff, people of all ages can enjoy the 18-hole Lost Valley adventure golf course, which local paper The Bolton News describes as being done with ‘painstaking detail’. It comes complete with The Jungle Cafe and a party area that can be hired for special occasions. Kids are reported to be ‘astounded’ by the quality of the place and are loving it to bits.

adventure golf
The entrance to the Lost Valley adventure golf course

In Stroud, artist-designed crazy golf is back this Summer after a very successful first year. Crazy Golf at the Goods Shed is a collaboration between Stroud Valleys Artspace and Chalford-based architect firm Millar + Howard Workshop. Each hole is designed by an artist and The Goods Shed will be open 10am – 4pm daily until Sunday, September 4.

VR minigolf, virtual reality, crazy golf
Players can also have a go at virtual reality crazy golf using the Oculus Rift VR headset.

2016 British Minigolf Championship this weekend!

BMGA minigolf championship, wroxham barns
One of the holes at the championship course

An exciting weekend of minigolf is in store this weekend at Wroxham Barns in Norfolk. They are hosting the 2016 BMGA British Open Championships, and it’s tight enough amongst the Men’s top seeds to promise a white-knuckle contest for the title. Reigning champion Michael Smith will be up against 2014 winner Adam Kelly as well as strong contenders Steve Lovell, Chris Wood and Andy Wilde. In the Ladies’ Championship, defending champion Ruth Burke will face 2014 winner Brenda Smith as well as Marion Homer, runner-up in the last two competitions.

Minigolf champion, Michael Smith
Defending Champ Michael Smith

The Champs are over Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th May. Ahead of the main tournament, on the evening of Friday 6th May Wroxham Barns will see a charity Pro-Am event run by the BGMA to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

The mini adventure golf course at Wroxham Barns, designed by UrbanCrazy, was opened in 2008 by the GB minigolf team. With 18 varied holes, it has an all-weather, true-rolling putting surface and rewards accurate putting and cleverly played rebound shots. It has water hazards and other obstacles including a bridge, all set in a landscaped site with rockeries, a watercourse with waterfall and a central fountain. The course is designed to British Minigolf Association standards and is DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliant.

Minigolf BMGA champion Ruth Burke
Defending Champ Ruth Burke

You can’t play the course during the Championships, but it will be a great weekend for a minigolf fan to see the UK’s top players putt it out for the 2016 title. Just watching them will improve your game, and you can get close enough to observe their technique!

Don’t forget it’s also National Golf Month! National Golf Month is an initiative driven by the British Golf Industry Association (BGIA) that gives golf clubs the opportunity to promote offers through the National Golf Month website that will target both lapsed and new golfers. Its stated aim is ‘to make 100,000 lapsed or new golfers aware of an opportunity to try golf again for free or at special offer prices’. So keep an eye out on the site for special offers near you!

Putter Nutter Richard Gottfried – an Interview

minigolf, crazy golf, ham and egger files, interview
Minigolf star Richard Gottfried with Shelley Barrett from Putterfingers

One of the very finest sources of facts and enthusiasm about minigolf is Richard Gottfried, he of The Ham and Egger Files, a blog dedicated to his relentless search for new minigolf courses in the UK and beyond. If there’s a question about the sport, he’ll probably know. It’s not surprising he’s a fount of putter knowledge, because he’s visited six hundred and seventy-two – yes, that’s 672 – minigolf courses so far and is showing no signs of slowing down. A recent interview with Richard has just been published by clothing brand Oi Polloi, who were doing a photo shoot at a minigolf course in Fleetwood, Lancashire and found out about him and his exploits.

The interview is well worth a read for crazy golf fans. It covers Richard’s first experience with the sport (a concrete course in his home town of Abingdon), the origins of many of the obstacles we are now familiar with (many come from the USA), hotbeds of crazy golf in the UK (Skeggy, Hastings, Blackpool, Whitby, Great Yarmouth and others).

He also summarises his major wins so far (seven National Tour wins and several independent tournament wins). He seems to be rather modest when talking about his wins – a more complete list can be seen here and is much longer. The interview even runs to the World Minigolf Federation’s efforts to gain Olympic status for the sport, and a discussion of which clothes are best for playing crazy golf in. There is also a brief mention of the intriguing sport of finger jousting, at which Gottfried apparently also excels.

At Putterfingers we know Richard Gottfried well, having worked with him on our minigolf course at the Oswestry Games. Here is Richard’s own report on that event.

Read the full interview with Richard here.

Off course: minigolf pocket games

Itching for a putting session but weather too bad to play outside? We feel your pain. While you’re waiting for the clouds to clear, why not try one of these putting games for your Android smartphone? None of them quite match the sensations of real putting, but they can help with practising your angles, and you might encounter some obstacles found on real putting greens. The realism in these games is just about good enough to help you figure out the best way of tackling them.
We tested six minigolf games from the Android Play Store. Here are our results.

Minigolf mobile games, crazy golf mobile games, android golf games

Minigolf Matchup
Social game – you play against others online.
A hole-in-one doubles the points on the next hole. We like that!
Lots of bonuses for completing mini-goals. Rewards for social sharing: earn stars for following the game on Twitter and Facebook, inviting friends, etc.
Collect gems for extra bonuses. Nice feature, but you have to deliberately miss holing out in order to gather the gems.
Play with Facebook friends.
Different clubs to buy or earn: Chipper, Power Putt, Laser Aim.
Original features like cannons that shoot your ball over large obstacles.
Moving arrows show the lie of the green – uphill or downhill. This is the only game with that feature.
Fun, colourful, cartoony graphics and pretty convincing ball physics.

Retro minigolf, retro crazy golf, mobile golf games, android

Mini golf: retro
Graphics not too bad, smooth scrolling. As with all the other games apart from Minigolf Matchup, you rotate the whole scenery around you to aim.
Can’t zoom in and out – a bit of a limitation, but you can usually see where you need to putt.
Ball physics: 3. Adequate, but unlikely things sometimes happen like the ball stopping right on the crest of a hill.
No social features or rewards.
When you hole out you are presented with a full-screen advertisement for another game. Not much of a reward, and an abrupt end to your hole. More a simulator than a fully-fledged game.

Minigolf Android games, Crazy golf Android games, play mobile minigolf game

Minigolf Stars 2
Single/multiplayer
Cartoony graphics – quite nice.
Various courses like Beach, Desert, Space, Castle, River. Lots of unlockable levels.
Good control of landscape.
The obstacles are of average difficulty.
Realism: the ball can bounce over the cup whereas in Minigolf Matchup it seems to go in no matter how hard you have hit it.

Minigolf Android game, crazy golf android game

Minigolf Stars: Retro Golf
Very similar to Minigolf Retro.
Courses a bit more interesting
Like all of these games, you can’t make your own custom courses.

Minigolf mobile games, crazy golf Android games

Mini Golf 3D
This game has some fiendish obstacles! It can be challenging.
The graphics are more on the realistic side, and are very nice.
Ball physics are pretty good.

Mini golf game, crazy golf game, android, mobile

Extreme Mini Golf
Different from the others, lots of water features, set in an aquatic world. But who would play minigolf on waterlogged courses?
Rather buggy. If you don’t play a shot it goes into a panoramic mode from which there is no escape, forcing you to restart the game.
Ball physics are average for this collection of games.

Here’s how the 6 minigolf games scored.

Mobile minigolf games, mobile crazy golf games

The overall winner of this review is Minigolf Matchup. In second place is Minigolf 3D. Do you agree with this review? Try the games and comment!

2016 Minigolf Tournaments Calendar

Below you’ll find details of minigolf tournaments around England and Wales along with links to the wonderful venues hosting each one. Why not pop along to one and have a go? Or do a golfathon for charity, playing at some or all of them? The closing date for the English Open is the 26th of February so hurry up if you fancy trying your hand at it. There will be some very serious players there, some of whom are BMGA Tour Pros, so you probably won’t win it! But there’s nothing wrong with having a go. You can pay cash on the day (£25 for a non-BMGA Tour Pro) but they do need your application form to book you a place.

From the beaches of Hastings to the Norfolk Broads via the Midlands and Cardiff, this island is buzzing with minigolf action in 2016. See below for full details.

Here’s a throwback to 2008 when Team Putterfingers went down to Brighton to play in the British Open.

minigolf, crazy golf, BMGA,
Putterfingers Managing Director Richard Standen putting for glory and missing at the British Open 2008

 

2016 Tournaments

Date Title Venue City
28.02.2016 English Open 2016 The Lost City Adventure Golf Nottingham
06.03.2016 Planet Hastings Crazy Golf Open 2016 Hastings (All Courses) Hastings
20.03.2016 Midlands Open 2016 Four Ashes Golf Centre Dorridge
10.04.2016 British Masters 2016 Splash Point Mini golf Worthing
24.04.2016 British Club Championship 2016 Strokes Adventure Golf Margate
07.05.2016 – 08.05.2016 British Championships 2016 Wroxham Barns Hoveton
11.06.2016 – 12.06.2016 World Crazy Golf Championship 2016 Hastings Seafront Hastings
16.07.2016 Cambridgeshire & Essex Open 2016 Dunton Hills Brentwood
17.07.2016 British Doubles Championship 2016 Dunton Hills Brentwood
17.09.2016 – 18.09.2016 British Open 2016 Hastings Seafront Pirate Golf Hastings
16.10.2016 Welsh Open 2016 Treetop Adventure Golf Cardiff
13.11.2016 Kent Open 2016 Lost Island Encounter Adventure Golf Course Chislehurst
04.12.2016 Star City Open 2016 Adventure Island Mini Golf (Star City) Birmingham