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Austria  asdf2

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United States of America Patrick Sheridan's blog« See all PatPenguin's blogs

Not Quite Mastering the Master's
22 Oct 2018 at 14:51 | Posted in: Personal | Views: 186 | Comments: 0
Not Quite Mastering the Master
Rumble looks beautiful at sunrise

Itís no surprise that writing this blog is much easier after a tournament when I feel like Iíve met, or at least come close, to my personal goals and/or have finished in the money. That being said, while I feel a bit disappointed with my finish in the USPMGA Masterís, I canít say that I played ďbadĒ during the whole tournament and I definitely canít say that I didnít have fun. Having two beautiful tournament days on a miniature golf course can almost never be bad (especially when one of them is a weekday and the alternative is working my day job). If it was, Iíd stop playing, and I think a lot of players on tour feel the same way. You can never forget that our sport is built on a foundation of windmills and clown faces!

After all of the practice and Hurricane induced delays, I got to the Aloha course before dawn on Thursday, where Iíd be playing my first 4 rounds. In an interesting bit of grouping, I would actually be playing with Mark ďThe HighlighterĒ Novicki, my buddy from CT who I had pretty much spent the entire week with. This has its pros and cons. On the one hand, itís always nice to have someone familiar to share some rounds with who you know you can chat with and enjoys the sport the same way you do. On the other hand, itís also nice in a tournament to get to play with other people, both so you can get to know them but also so you might be able to learn from something they do. Our third would be Bob Haizlip who neither of us have played with before but has a lot of experience in the game, spanning a couple of decades. Bob would turn out to be a very nice guy, do pretty well for not playing in almost a year, and be very encouraging through the rounds.

Our adventure would start on hole 15, which is one of the better places you can start on that course. Itís a fairly easy deuce hole and is quickly followed by two ace holes. You then end with the anthill and an ace hole, so itís a good dispersal of your skills. I deuce 15 to start and just miss the ace on 16 (so much for putting up that video on YouTube of how to do it), then got the aces rolling with one on 17. I play clean through hole 2 but am a little sad that I miss hole 3, and then more sad that I miss hole 5 & 6, which are generally two of the more aceable holes. They would be a problem for our group all day. Iím very happy that I play hole 8 clean (as itís the hardest hole on that course as the average score shows) and get a couple aces on 9 and 10. Things get even better when I ace the anthill and 14 to finish. I donít get to the 20s thanks to missing some of the easier holes, but I come in at 30 and itís a very encouraging round to start.

Unfortunately I donít have a good sequel and I get 2 of the 4 over-par scores Iíd have at Aloha during that round and the aces dry up. I finish with a 35 but seem to claw my way back a bit with a 32 in round 3. Round 4 is feeling very good - maybe not a 20s round but I think I can get back down to 30 and am looking right at it before the penultimate hole - the anthill. They key on this hole (I think) is that if you miss the ace, make sure you hit it a little long so the ball rolls down to the right side of the hole. Itís an uphill putt with less of a chance of going awry and sending you even further away from the hole if you miss. You can see what I mean in my
video of the hole. I had achieved that fairly well on the prior two rounds but then disaster hits. I leave the putt light and the ball goes over the hill but ends up on the left of the hole, on the uphill side, back against the bricks. Itís both a long putt and requires the right speed or else I risk sending the back to the tee or back at me. Itís a putt I hadnít spent much time on in practice and that gets in my head (note to 2019 self: practice that damn putt). I miss it and am now on the proper side of the hole but too close to the tee. Thereís a bit of carpet seam in my way on the anthill. Now that gets in my head and I hit the putt only to watch it just get to the top of the hill and roll back. I take my 4th shot - and oh my- same result. Watching the ball spin on the crest of the hill and not head to the cup side of it it pure agony.

Now comes the worst part of a tournament. Your playing partners are watching you, players from the group behind you have caught up and are watching (and waiting on) you, your round score flashes in your head and all you want is for the f$%^ing ball to go in the cup. I do what I should have done on the 3rd putt and step away form the ball and breathe, telling myself I know how to hit this shot, to follow through and hit it with confidence. It works and I card the 5. It will be the only big mistake I make in the tournament but it hurts. I finish with a 33 and despite my best efforts and a lunch break, it carries over with me into the first round at Rumble in the afternoon.

Thus, I enter my worst 24 hole stretch of the tournament. I will shoot those 24 holes without an ace (a long time on these courses) and play them 8 over, a little more than half the difference between where I ended and ending in the money. Crazy that just 12% of the holes I played ended up being the biggest difference maker. At Rumble, I would start on hole 13 after the regrouping but for us itís not a regroup at all. Given we all shot pretty much the same thing in the morning, Iím again paired with Bob and Mark. Iíve noted that this happens sometimes, especially in the bigger tournaments Ė almost as if there is some force as work pushing players to all the same level (whether good, bad or average). I feel like hole 13 isnít a terrible place to start, though it can make for a couple difficult holes in a row it does break up the aces and hard holes some.

Of course the first round, making 18 of those 24 holes, doesnít prove that out and I end up right off the bat with a 39, my worst score of two years playing in the tournament. Iíd finally break my ace cherry on Rumble that tournament on hole 17 (a good hole for me on both courses) the second time around and then run off 3 in a row, acing 18 and 1. For a brief moment I could feel things turning around as I carded a 34 and followed it up with a 33, respectable scores for Rumble and close to where I wanted to be to compete. However, another tough round with too many bogies left me with a 37. Going into the tournament I had a stretch goal of trying to make the Top 30 to be in the later rounds on Saturday but I knew that was out of reach and Iíd be lying to say I wasnít a bit disappointed that I had finished the first day in the 50s.

With the day finishing later than normal and family commitments that night, there wasnít much time to lament my state or to think over it too much at all before having to be back at Rumble for a 7am tee-time. There was a bit of chill in the air being at the course before sunrise but the steam off the volcano and the colors in the sky made a pretty picture as the sun rose. One bad part about the sun rising though was hole 6 which looked directly east into the sun and good luck if you could see at all where you were putting on your tee shot.

For the last two rounds I would be grouped with Trent Hatfield who I had met earlier in the week and was both a fan of, and contributor to, The Putting Penguin, and Monte Snyder, who along with Trent is part of the ďIndiana crewĒ playing in the tournament. This day, Iíd start on hole 12 on Rumble which both meant I was toward the back of the pack but also meant I was used to making the rounds from there given my hole 13 start the previous day. Despite a 3-2-3 start on the first three holes, I would play well for most of that morning turning in a good 3 rounds of 33-35-32, ending with my best round of the weekend on Rumble. It would move me up to 46th place Ė exactly where I finished last year and 14 strokes out of the playing positions.

With that out of the way it was time to take care of two things: 1) being a great spectator for my friends and fellow competitors as the Top 30 played their final three rounds and 2) completing my in person interview for the minigolf reality show. The casting company has sent someone out to the Masterís since there were so many likely candidates for the show. I did my 5 minutes in front of the camera, regurgitating my minigolf story again and trying to keep my introverted personality at bay. Who knows if I will get picked for the show, I just liked that The Putting Penguinís name got out there some more and perhaps in the future someone will find the need to talk to us again about minigolf in entertainment.

The being a spectator part was easy and although I wish I could have been playing itís great to see some of the top players taking on this course and making the putts when it counts. Iím very happy for Greg on winning his second Masterís and while I donít know him super well, heís always been friendly at tournaments and is a great ambassador for our game both nationally and internationally. Just the way he spoke about his WAGM US teammates at the Masterís dinner showed someone who cares not just about personal success but also about team and country success. Also, Iím super excited that he decided to go ďStanley CupĒ style with the trophy and fill it with beer a couple of times, passing it around first to past Masterís champions and then opening it up to friends. I took advantage of swig from the trophy and will 100% do that should I ever win that piece of hardware. I will also likely take it on a tour with me like the Stanley Cup and may even hire someone to carry it with white gloves (shouts to Philip Pritchard the keeper of the Stanley Cup).

So where did I end up with my predictions? Well like my personal putting this tournament was not the best for my inner eye.

I didnít manage to break the top 40, an overall 375 or 30 at Aloha (although I did come close on the last two). However, I did ace hole 17 at Rumble 6 of the 7 times I played it, accomplishing my last goal!

Rainey didnít win but finished a respectable 8th and I did have Greg as one of the non-field favorites, so I had that going for me. I do want to thank Rainey again for showing me his shot on Rumble hole 10. While I didnít ace it, I only took one bogey and it was only because I got slightly unlucky and hit the cup, otherwise all of my deuce putts were from the exact place he said they would be! As for the rest, well Greg wasnít a new winner and the format didnít make for some great Saturday changes at the top of the leaderboard as Greg saw it all the way through.

With that, the minigolf tournament season really ends for me. Unless something pops up late in the Fall where or early Spring it will likely not be until the 2019 U.S. Open (to be held in South Carolina at a new course) that I play real competitive minigolf again. Itís sad to be on such a long hiatus but in some ways thatís good too as it allows me to spend more time focused on other things before the lure of the miniature golf green sucks me in again. Iím sure I will have a blog or two in the meantime, but while Iím away from the big putting be sure to continue to check out Minigolfnews for minigolf needs and of course The Putting Penguin and all our social media platforms to keep abreast of all the non-tournament stuff weíre doing!

***The views expressed in this blog are solely the views of the writer and do not represent the World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF), Minigolfnews.com or any other organization that the writer may be associated with unless expressly stated in the blog***

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