Saturday: Having gone to bed early on the Friday after another long week out in the fields, I needed to conserve my energy for the weekend. On the bright side, this is my home tournament and I get to spend fifteen hours at the back of a garden centre, just putting. I have decided that I should make all my guests feel welcome, which means two trips to the train station, making up a couple of beds, laying on a banquet, ferrying my group to the local establishments and generally, being a tour guide to the city of Peterborough.
Ruth is first to arrive, and I get to showing her the lines. The course does take a bit of figuring out when you first arrive as all but one of the twelve holes require a rebound of some sorts. The weather is beyond pleasant, proving that the sun really does shine on Stevie. Ed turns up eventually, having left his wallet at work, before I head off to collect Derek and Henri from the city centre. Shelley and James make the trip around lunch time. Although the course is busier than I have seen it in a while, our practice sessions aren’t disrupted one bit. In seven rounds, I tied the course record of 20 (along with the defending champion, Derek), and didn’t hit one round over par. With form like that, I have a chance. Before leaving for the day, I chalk up the tee off areas and the nearest the pin circle on the 11th.
My Saturday night entertainments were the talk of the tour last year as myself and Derek did a live draw in dinner jackets before decanting to a local pub to see an eighty year old cuddling a blow up doll. This year was more tame but still great fun. The Welsh contingent had found a karaoke in the village of Yarwell, around twenty miles from me. After the draw, we found a delightful limestone pub, which was packed inside. Henri had already admitted that he had never sung on karaoke so after a few nerves, he handed a ticket up. I got things started with ‘Waterfront’ by Simple Minds, Simon gave us a unique rendition of ‘Goodbye My Lover’ by James Blunt, Derek surprised many by picking out ‘Up’ by Olly Murs and Demi Lovato, Martyn went for the crowd pleasing ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ by Deep Blue Something. And Henri, still looking as if he just wanted to get this over and done with, impressed with ‘Losing My Religion’ by R. E. M. If we didn’t have to go, Henri would have been straight in the books, so jubilant was he after as he raised both arms in the air passing through the bar. A great suggestion for a night out.
Sunday: Feeling quite refreshed, I want to make sure we’re at least having breakfast by 8 am. Trans World Sport have chosen this weekend to air coverage of the World Crazy Golf Championships from three months earlier. I have to say it is great coverage, I think most people could spot themselves, which is at the end of the day, is what we all want. Our friends to wonder what the hell we’re doing with our weekends.
I arrange to meet people outside the front doors about half an hour before opening so I can collect funds. There are seventeen playing, which is less than every other club event in the country, but afterwards, I can send everyone back to say how fun the experience was. The garden centre itself is a self-contained unit, we don’t have to leave the grounds at any point. The food has always been good but they’ve removed the salad bar. The minigolf is out the way of shoppers. The unique thing about the Sussex Wasps Open is that the public can play the course while we are too. Although it is busier than last year, we still manage to comfortable stage the event, although the owner said he would shut the doors for a couple of hours if we required.
For the first three rounds, I’m drawn with Martyn and Bob. The key to the course is a steady start, attack the middle and damage limitation at the end. I wish I had listened to any words of advice here after taking a five at the bridge. I labour to an opening 29, Bob probably has his best round with a 24, which also included a five. Martyn played well having only seen the course twenty minutes beforehand. Ruth takes an early lead with a 22. Round two is better, just with some silly errors like not making the tunnel on the fifth. I do become the first person in the history of the tournament to ace the tenth but it is of little consolation. I’m nine behind Ruth, who leads by four from Ed.
We have a quick turnaround between rounds so people can enjoy the setting and that we have the maximum time available in case of some mishap. Peterborough can be like Margate in a way, as it has the ability the totally crucify a decent round. It still meant there was hope for a number of people and the pressure of getting a rare win could come into the mindset. With Ruth being the last group to finish off round three, there was a hushed atmosphere as she handed her card in. Wow! A 23. So, we’re all playing for second, everyone. With a seven shot lead and just twelve holes to play, Ruth has a major chance at being the first British female winner ever on the BMGA tour. History is just dabbing its quill in the inkwell. We take lunch.
I’m going to have to go some to get back into the cash prizes. I ace the fifth but the bridge hole brought a familiar, ominous result. A level par round to finish was never going to be enough but Andy did show us magic. Two years ago, Owen managed to hit a tee shot off the centre rock behind the hole and get the ball back to his feet with out touching the sides. Andy achieved this feat too, complete with a celebratory ‘yes’ as he managed to keep his ball dry before the dawning happened. I wasn’t aware of what was going on behind but knew I couldn’t be any worse off than fourth. Despite a five at the bridge, Ruth had built up enough credit in the bank to coast to victory. The 2018 Sussex Wasps Open was all about girl power, sisters doing it for themselves and barriers being broken down. And it was happening at my tournament. Huge congratulations, Ruth. You fully deserved everything.
Overall, seven people won cash prizes, not including Dave Hartley’s lottery package and the 10p I gave to Simon. The items available ranged from the possible useful to money wouldn’t want to buy that. I got the Over 40’s joke book, although looking back on the week I’ve had since, the paracetamol might have been a better option. The Planet Hastings team very kindly took me out for a couple of beers and I finally got a chance to switch off. I spoke to mum on the way home, which gave me feeling of wonder. I know I’ll get to see her in a few days. Minigolf is proving to be a more than capable way of taking my mind away to another place. Thank you to all who attended, my team mates at Sussex Wasps, Roger and Simon at Peterborough Minigolf. It has been a joy.