Interview with Alberto Pirovano
06 Feb 2020 at 14:13 | Published by: PatPenguin | Views: 2002 | News search
Alberto, his father and his son (Photo by )
Recently, the XXIV Nissan Trofeo Night Marathon took place in Vedano al Lambro on the outskirts of Monza, Italy. This historic part of Lombardy is one of the most fashionable places in the world, with Milan just a short bus ride away. Monza is most famous for Formula One and the track itself is at the end of the road. As much as he wanted to go tearing around in a single seater, Minigolfnews reporter Steve Lovell decided to take part in the Night Marathon, finding out what brings people from the world over in the middle of January. We caught up with organiser Alberto Pirovano to get the lowdown. » Final Results
Minigolfnews (MGN): Hi Alberto. Tell me a little about yourself.
Alberto Pirovano (AP): I’m 47 years old and from Monza. When I was 10 years old, I started to play minigolf for fun in summer in Sanremo, where my parents had a summer flat. During the day, our mother drove my brother and me to play golf, and in the evening, what’s better than a putter and balls again? My father started to play minigolf in the late sixties and in 1972, he played the European Championships in Sanremo. Sanremo is really important in my life and for the Night Marathon. I remember very well that during the seventies and eighties, a bus with a lot of foreign players arrived from abroad to play the 24 hours of minigolf in Sanremo.
In 1980, my father and some friends invested a lot of money for building the first combi course in Monza with a really nice club house and a bar with places for the visitors outside. He organized the EM 1985 with the Minigolf Club Monza. This was really important for my minigolf career because after that event I decided to be a minigolf player.
My mother is really important for all of us too. She speaks German very well and she was also the President of the Italian Federation from 1990 to 2004. My father is the President now, from 2008 to 2022. My father’s dream was to build a minigolf indoor course, he had the right experience to do it and made his dream come true in 1996 in Vedano. There was nothing there before the minigolf building. We designed all the eighteen lanes one by one on the ground, we put strings for the circles and curve lanes like 5, 11 and 13. Later, every day, we followed workers during their job. We studied the course with some lanes like 5, 9, 11, 12, and 16 on the opposite side of the same lanes of minigolf in Monza. A part of us died in October 2010, when after two years of negotiations, the local government asked to have the place back where we had built the combi course in Monza. They wanted to build a school but now the place is still like 10 years ago.
MGN: How about you as a minigolfer? What sort of standard have you reached?
AP: About me as a minigolfer I can write a book, but surely three moments are stuck in my mind. When I was 16 years old, I won the Italian Master overall, a competition reserved for the best 18 players of the national ranking. I’m still the youngest player able to do it. (Monza, combi course 5 rounds of each course).
When I was 17, the President of MC Monza, not a parent, decided to change the head coach of our team (80 players) and nominated me as a technical manager. He took a great responsibility because I was a teenager, but he achieved the right successes.
In 2005 at WM in Steyr I decided to stop with International Championships after 5 EM and 5 WM, but I played one month later the EC in Bergheim with team and individual results.
MGN: Tell us about Monza as a city.
AP: Monza is the city where my father, my brother, my son and I were born. It’s a beautiful city close to Milan (15 km) and we have the biggest enclosed park in Europe and the residence of the king of Italy. There is the racing track inside the park and also a beautiful and exclusive golf course with 27 holes where three Italian Open in a row were organized some year ago.
MGN: As well as the wonderful facility of the minigolf course, certainly the best complex I have been to, there are other things to do at the Sportspark. Tell us a little about the complex.
AP: At the Sportpark, you can play tennis, football, table tennis, work on your fitness and there is also a mini car track for the people who are passionate about scale electrical models.
MGN: The Nissan Trofeo Night Marathon. Now I've played it, I get why people come from all over to play. How did you come up with the idea to start a minigolf event in the middle of the night? How has the event changed over the years? You were surprised to see so many people arriving early for the 2020 competition.
AP: About the tournament, I want to spend a little time to say that it’s my father’s, my brother’s and my idea. Usually you have public waiting for the end of the tournament but not really interested in it but only want to play. In our case, we wanted that public stopped and followed the tournament after their round.
The competition started in January 1997, Francesco Leuci with Tino Pisaroni won the first edition and he has played all the 23 competitions in a row until today. The story changed when in 2003, I decided to make it international. Some friends arrived from the Switzerland, Norway, Finland and Germany: many of them play the tournament even today. Year by year, the tournament grew to an important number and 2007 was the first time with Bangolf Arena permitted to have live results abroad too. During the last six years, we have a qualification for Italian pairs. This year, 37 pairs qualified to compare for three places in the Night Marathon. This year, we’ve got a lot of requests and unfortunately, 12 teams from Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and France couldn’t take part in our tournament. Probably from the next edition, we will organize qualifications also for a part of foreign pairs during the night from Friday to Saturday. This year, we sold out on 28th October 2019, two months before the end of inscriptions.
MGN: You have done some media work for the WMF, in particular Croatia and China. What's that like to be involved with?
AP: The media work with WMF staff was amazing. I experienced the real plan of the international championships. Pasi, Peter and Marion were important for my development. Organization and planning are now a part of my job like an officer of the Night Marathon. Every time, immediately after the tournament, on Monday, with my staff I write on the blackboard the positive things and what we will improve for the next edition and some week before the tournament we open the file and we work on making the tournament better every year.
MGN: Personally, I would like to thank Alberto Pirovano for his time and help with this article. Also, as well as Alberto and his family, I would like to thank Minigolf Club Monza and all the players who helped me along the way during my stay, whether it was giving advice on lines and shots or like Maciej and Mike from Poland, who gave me lifts to the course. Finally, although he couldn’t be there because of poor health, I would like to thank Rainer Henseler, who was my original playing partner, for making me realise a dream, and to Luigi Rigamondi, who was my playing partner. The whole experience of playing the Night Marathon was some of the most incredible days I’ve had in minigolf and I have nothing but good words and memories about my time there. If you do get the chance to play here, do it.