My plan was to hit a few practice rounds this afternoon as my last preparation for the tournament tomorrow. A “few” turned into 8 rounds over 4 hours! Luckily the heavy stuff didn’t come down for a while, so all I was left with was incredibly humid air and a few sprinkles. Overall I was content with my rounds, bringing the total practice rounds for this tournament to 15. It’s sort of the same feeling I had prior to the U.S. Open rounds. I had done ok, but I knew I could do better. I’m hoping perhaps to get a repeat performance from the Open where I did just that. My average for the rounds was 39.8 which is about a stroke higher than I would have liked to seen it. Depending on the round a different hole seemed to kill my score though for the most part I was finding a decent amount of aces to offset the bogies (and in some cases double and triple bogies), even if some of them were rather lucky. I ended practice with only one hole below par and one at even – not exactly what I’d like to see in terms of consistency. During the tournament I just have to remember to not “chase aces” as that seems to be where I get in trouble the most.
The real fun part of today was my first “you’re a pro-minigolfer? Can we get a picture?” experience. There was a group of young women who were playing fairly slow throughout the course so as I got in my first couple of rounds I had skipped around them to get through the holes as fast as possible. (Side note- most of my rounds today we’re played “shotgun start” style from random holes depending on the groups that were on the course. I normally don’t like to do that because it doesn’t simulate the flow of a running start from 1 that the tournament does but you have to do what you have to do to maximize your putting time). At one point I was on a hole next to them taking about 8 tee shots to try to find my ace line on 13. It was a combination of watching that and reading my shirt, which said “Minigolfer”, and my hat, which said “The Putting Penguin”, that I’m sure caused one of them to breakaway and ask “are you a pro?” Not sure what she was expecting as an answer but I gave “Yeah I am” and proceeded to talk with them about minigolf tournaments, how I got started in it and the genesis of The Putting Penguin. At which point they ask “can we get a picture?”, which I was happy to oblige both a regular picture and a selfie. For one brief moment I knew what it was to be famous. This was followed up about an hour later when a father and daughter approached me to ask about the tournament. They again figured from the shirt, the fact that I was videotaping and playing holes multiple times that I might be up to something. During that exchange the girl gleefully told me she got a hole-in-one on 17 (probably the least aceable hole on the course). When I found out she was 7, I told her how I had been losing to this lovely young woman Olivia from the time she was 7 years old as well so maybe this girl had a future on the minigolf circuit. Really it’s stuff like that which can make a great day on the course.
I won’t be handicapping this tournament since I don’t have a complete list of entrants. However, I think all of our four Connecticut Cup competitors have a good shot at gaining the title this year. Within the Connecticut Cup it’s going to be a close one. It’s my first chance to defend the cup so I’d like to hang onto it for more than the month of which I had it. However, John works part-time at the course and both Justin and Highlighter do very well on this course, so we’re all evenly matched. As long as I don’t blow up my first round, to be played prior to the tournament rounds tomorrow at 7am, I should have a decent shot at retaining the trophy.
It’s nice to have this tournament close to home since I can stay at my own house and enjoy a pre-tournament meal of pizza and beer with my family. It’s about a 30 minute drive to the course so I need to be out of my house by 6:30 am tomorrow to get there for the prelim round. The weather looks like it will be warm and humid tomorrow but be fairly nice for the final round on Sunday. My goals for the tournament are 1) to keep the average below 40, 2) to finish above 7th (my finish from last year) and 3) get more than 6 aces over the three rounds. I think all of them are manageable. Here’s to some great putting tomorrow!