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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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Gretchen Smith Pens Amazing Strokes

Minigolfnews 12 Dec 2018 at 02:43 | Published by: PatPenguin | Views: 24771 | News search

Gretchen Smith Pens Amazing Strokes
Amazing Strokes cover  (Photo by AmazingStrokes.com)

A new book about miniature golf has just entered the libraries of many putting lovers around the world, just in time for the holiday season. Amazing Strokes is a 600 page tome that is a testament to the length and breadth of the history of miniature golf and its expanse across the world. You can purchase the book on the author's page or over at Amazon, which might be most convenient for international orders.

The book is part minigolf encyclopedia, part factual history and part oral history straight from the mouths of the players, course owners, organizers and other miniature golf fanatics. There’s plenty of pictures throughout the years, showing how the sport has matured. While the focus is primarily the United States, the book does devote significant pages to miniature golf worldwide. As Editor of this fine website and Co-Founder of The Putting Penguin I was fortunate enough to make my way into those pages. When reading it, I was amazed to learn quite a few things about both people I had played with over the years and the history of various courses/organizations. It's structured in an easy way to get through a few sections every day and while there's some errors in the book, they don't detract from the overall enjoyment of being immersed in the world of miniature golf.

I took a few moments to turn the questions table on the author, Gretchen Smith, to ask her about her experiences writing the book and what she took away from such a deep dive.

Minigolfnews (MGN): After doing all of the research for the book what is the most surprising thing you found out about minigolf/Putt Putt that you had no idea about before you started?

Gretchen Smith (GS): The most surprising part of writing Amazing Strokes was two-fold: First, for U.S. readers, I was impressed with the management and vision of Don Clayton, founder of Putt-Putt. He did so many things right - he created the total package for a potential owner to succeed. A franchisee could afford to put in one or two courses. They could choose from stipulated hole designs. He provided a design-build firm for the course, management and marketing support. He was savvy about local marketing, as well as building the ranks with junior putters, and helping owners stay in tournament mode throughout the season. Owners and management came together each year for a convention to exchange ideas. It was a different time - women were not encouraged to be involved in the sport, and there was little racial diversity.

Overseas, I was encouraged that there seems to be mostly widespread governance of minigolf. I had no idea about the different type of courses, or balls used to ace holes on various surfaces, and the clubs and regular tournaments that keep minigolf going almost year-round. Attention seems to be paid to encourage women and youth to take up the sport, and there's diversity in participation. It's a team effort, and while there are stars, it seems all are encouraged to give it a go. Much more thought is given to marketing and communication abroad, and that's the key to keeping the sport alive.

MGN: You've mentioned that you'll continue the work in this area through your blog. Do you have anything else planned for the world of miniature golf besides the blog and attending tournaments?

GS: Amazing Strokes really began in 2011 when I visited Bob Detwiler in Myrtle Beach. I did play in some tournaments (Putt-Putt and miniature golf), and I am truly the world's worst putter. I decided that no one had captured the sport in the U.S. and abroad since Miniature Golf was published in 1987. The Putting Penguin's book, Andy Miller's book, Tim Hollis' book, and the good-natured satirical tome of John McIver and Ted Davies all covered certain aspects of the sport. My initial outline pretty much was my framework. Some is known about the history, but not its roots abroad; all three major putting organizations, those who are stand-out talents in the sport (although there's many I missed), design-build firms, The Putting Penguin and A Couple of Putts, putting courses on golf courses, and how miniature golf has been applied in economic development, education, the arts and philanthropy - that, to my amazement, filled 608 pages.

I want to continue my miniature golf journey, and not try to duplicate what others are doing. My blog is designed to capture what I didn't include in the book - more backstory, putting tips, putter profiles, local and international putting clubs. I'd like to see more putters contributing to the website - not just my thoughts. Ultimately I'd like to help raise the profile of putting as a sport. Financially, I'm not able to travel to tournaments as I'd like. Still, putting is a sport for every age, and it's relatively inexpensive. If I were to really play a course like the pros, I'd be able to discern the angles and variables for aces and deuces. That's why miniature golf is such a natural for education in math, physics, materials science and the arts.

MGN: What one international miniature golf event would you most like to attend/play in if you could?

GS: I would salivate over the opportunity to watch the World Minigolf Championships and the World Crazy Golf Championships at Hastings. I hope I'm able to go to Birmingham, AL for the Continental Championship in 2021. It would be a delight to become better than the world's worst putter.

MGN: Through this work and your own hobby you've seen a lot of different courses. If you had unlimited funds, what type of miniature golf course would you build? What would be the theme and unique attraction?

GS: My ideal course would be one where holes were designed to raise awareness on global issues, and would likely be artist-designed - a combination of the talents of Tom (Loftus) and Robin (Schwartzman), and the Materials and Applications course I wrote about in the book. The course would be playable with a variety of obstacles and optical illusions that would make aces challenging. I'd like to see a course that could be enclosed in inclement weather so it could operate year-round. At the end of each hole there would be information about the hole and the issue it was illustrating and how to get involved in solving that issue on a grassroots level. The course would change annually to showcase new holes/issues. This would require design and architect sponsors, a marketing plan, and there would be a charge to play to help offset expenses. The cost would be as reasonable as most of the better courses in the U.S.

MGN: It seems to be a good time for miniature golf in media with films (e.g. Through the Windmill), the upcoming Mega Minigolf reality show on ABC, and your own book happening in just the past year, not to mention expanded coverage on country media like the NBC News spot and Vice News' coverage on the Master's. What do you see as the key to keeping up this exposure and unlocking more in the future for our sport?

GS: I'm pleased to see a variety of media being used to promote miniature golf. Through the Windmill is a great start, and I hope she (Amanda Kulkoski) lands a streaming contract for people to watch. I'll have to see if the reality miniature golf show gets traction, and it would be a great opportunity to expose a wide audience to the sport. There are any number of blogs; yet it's getting people to sign on and become fans of the sport. For that to occur, I think there needs to be a superior marketing person, like Sheryl Bindelglass to offer some partial pro bono consultation on getting local, regional, national and international awareness. Second, a youth putting movement has to be started to feed the putting leagues and regular tournament. Some of the best putters here and abroad could volunteer as mentors to help young people get excited about putting, and become really good at the sport. Unfortunately, money is a big motivator as one turns 18 or 21, so there has to be a payoff for being a proficient putter. That means well-known corporate, organizational and media support to bring the sport to more audiences. I know I'm the oddball, but I enjoy watching the old Putt-Putt TV shows. All those pieces have to fall into place if putting is to grow as a sport.

MGN: Is there anything else in particular you'd like to mention about your time developing the book or perhaps some words of advice for an aspiring author looking to self-publish a book on a field of their interest?

GS: Self-publishing is not for wimps. The book was an investment in a sport I'm passionate about. At 68, I didn't have time to find an agent. I will never make my money back from this venture. I wanted a self-publisher that would print and help distribute the book - Amazon and Seattle Book Company to libraries, museums, and organizations that might be considering miniature golf as an awareness opportunity. The real responsibility for marketing is the author. I want to keep making connections, enhancing those I know and building new relationships. A potential author or any entrepreneur should price their venture first. Don't take the self-publisher's word on publishing criteria. Talk to pre-press people as well before you ever start. Make sure you have as much potential audience support as possible. Be willing to let go of your ego. I had many people read their profiles to make sure I was correct. Even then, I made mistakes. I've found it important to acknowledge and take responsibility for any errors in the book. What I had to work hardest at was getting people to trust me, and to get back to me in a timely way. So the real advice is do a business plan before you start any venture.

Thank you to Gretchen for both answering our questions and profiling our organization in her book. We love to see exposure like this for the sport and hope we can profile more individuals in the future who have participated in various minigolf media ventures!



Comments (1)

United States of America Smitty (Jeffrey Smith)

18 Dec 2018 at 13:35
I encourage folks to dig in. There is great info in Amazing Strokes!

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International Minigolf Speed Championships under the umbrella of CSIT

World 07 Nov 2018 at 13:36 | views: 20209 | Comments: 0

Note: This article first appeared on the World Minigolf Sport Federation website. CSIT (International Workers and Amateurs in Sports Confederation) is an IOC recognized organization with a history of more than 100 years; for more information please check the ...
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International Minigolf Speed Championships under the umbrella of CSIT

Aaron Crawford Hits Jackpot at 2018 Major Series of Putting

Aaron Crawford Hits Jackpot at 2018 Major Series of Putting

United States of America 05 Nov 2018 at 12:33 | views: 22418 | Comments: 0

Henderson, NV – Just outside of Las Vegas, the 2018 Major Series of Putting (MSOP) was held at the Legacy Golf Club during the week of October 22nd. There was money on the line in three main tournaments: the Team Championship, with a $40,000 (~35,000 EUR) purse ...
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Greg Newport Wins His 2nd USPMGA Master's

United States of America 17 Oct 2018 at 13:41 | views: 22660 | Comments: 0

North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - Jim Nantz is fond of calling the PGA Masters “a traditional unlike any other” and one would like to think he’d have the same sentiment if he had the chance to witness 22 years of the United States ProMiniGolf Association’s ...
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Greg Newport Wins His 2nd USPMGA Master

Justin Seymour Wins 2nd Matterhorn International Pro-Am

Justin Seymour Wins 2nd Matterhorn International Pro-Am

United States of America 26 Sep 2018 at 13:13 | views: 22417 | Comments: 0

The second running of the Matterhorn International Pro-Am was held on September 22, 2018 at Matterhorn Mini Golf in Canton, CT. This year saw 13 players enter the five round pro division and an additional 18 play in the three round amateur division, with a third ...
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