We'd like to welcome Cameron Couper from New Zealand as our newest blogger on Minigolfnews. Cameron is a relatively new competitive minigolf player and will be providing some local perspective on the growing miniature golf scene "down under" as well as some thoughts on playing the major international tournaments. His first post is below and future posts will be under his username.
Who knew that there was a mini golf world championship, that you could play the game as a competitive sport as well as a fun activity while on holiday in the summer time with friends.
I certainly didnít, well I kind of knew vaguely that there was some sort of championship somewhere in the world, but not to the extent that Iíve now come to find out about.
Late last year I found out that the New Zealand mini golf federation were looking at hosting the first ever New Zealand open, I thought to myself that this could be something that would be fun to get involved with and get the competitive juices flowing. Unfortunately I wasnít able to attend due to prior commitments, but was a huge success from all Iíve spoken to since, and so birthed the competitive mini golf scene in New Zealand.
Not long after the New Zealand open the federation announced the first ever New Zealand Mini Golf Pro league, a series of 10 events over 12 months around the the upper north island. This peaked my interest after missing the chance the compete at the NZ open. So 10 events, the format, 4 rounds each event, $20 entry fee per player and the prize pool divided up for 1st, 2nd and 3rd (potentially further depending on the number of competitors), along with the prize money the sort after Pro League over all points. The points are the ultimate priority when you look at the big picture, with the league leaders at the end of the 10 events to become the New Zealand Team for the WAGM 2018 in the Czech Republic, and who wouldnít want a chance to represent your country at a sport in a world champs?
The first event of the pro league, early April at a course that Iíve known was there for years, driven past every morning on my way to work for the last 3 years, but never set foot on in my life.
I arrive half an hour or so before the start and greeted by Bobby Hart, New Zealandís number 1, New Zealand mini golf federation member and organiser of the pro league events. I pay my entry fee and walk onto the course with my regular putter and ball I use on a regular basis on the course for a little practice not knowing what to expect or where to start.
I pick a few holes that look difficult and try and work out angles and speed for first shots and then look at breaks on deuce putts, but clearly not knowing what I should do. I watch a couple of others that are practicing, watch their their lines, speeds and any other small bit of information to help me out and add that to the memory bank. Anything is helpful at this stage to me and that deer in the headlights feeling.
We get under way and my first round is fairly solid I feel. Iím in the mix floating a couple of shots off the lead. However rounds 2 and 3 I learn my first real lesson on this journey, anyone can play 1 good round but playing multiple rounds at a high standard is going to take a lot more than just putting skill, its going to take a lot of a mental focus and concentration to play consistent and stay in contention. i fall a few places to mid table after a couple terrible rounds that can put down to my previous comment of mental concentration. Round 4 I come back better a little more like the first round and I finish a reasonable 6th place, not too bad after not even having a full practice round before the event, but thats it, thats enough of a shot in the veins, Iím hooked, Iíve caught the bug and mini golf takes over my thinking.
Fast forward 3 months and another 3 events, another 6th place a loss in a playoff after 3 holes for first and a solid 4th. Mini golf is taking over my everyday life. iíve started purchasing mini golf balls out of Europe along a nifo putter. Iíve been given a chance to head to Croatia in just 6 weeks time to represent New Zealand at the WAGM and the world championship. the world champs will bring a new dimension to everything not having the Eternit or felt style course to practice on. This has added to my life being taken over by mini golf, spending hours watching youtube videos of the worlds best play these lanes, taking mental notes of angles and lines. Its like Iíve take a course of mini golf at university and Iím spending all my time studying.
I hope going forward I can bring you a New Zealand perspective of the mini golf world, with the local pro league and other tournaments, and a little of my experience and journey in the mini golf world here locally and in Croatia at the world champs and WAGM.