The past two days have been the perfect illustration of why I’ve done what I do with miniature golf so that I can have the opportunity to finally play in an international competition. Wednesday was the first official practice day, so it was really cool to see the teams starting to wear their official kits around the course. Unfortunately the weather ended up being cold and windy in the afternoon, gradually migrating to rainy by lunchtime, effectively washing out the rest of the afternoon for practice. So of course we moved onto more international relations (drinking with other teams) while we waited for the opening ceremonies that night.
Wednesday evening was one of the coolest things I’ve ever had the chance to experience. Starting just after 6pm local time, we gathered for an Olympic-style parade of nations. It was awesome to be in our kits, taking pictures with ourselves and the other teams and then getting a chance to walk through some of the old town of Kungalv on the parade. There were people waving us on from their homes and shops as we walked through. We ended up at Bohus Fortress, built in 1308 for the actual opening ceremony and then a dinner inside the castle. Despite the cold and wind, everyone was riding a high and we ended the evening with more international relations. It's hard to accurately describe what it's like to be able to wear your country's colors in a sport that you've grown to love so much and that has brought you to so many places. It's an honor I will always have even if I never make the team again.
Thursday was a beautiful day on the course and in the morning we had our official team photos taken. It was yet another moment in time where you got to really feel like a team and understand again that you are representing your country. Personally, I was surprised when the photographer asked us who “accountingninja” was, which just happens to be my personal Instagram and Twitter handle. He followed my Instagram accounting and was happy to meet me, doubly happy when he found out I also ran “theputtingpenguin” Instagram. I will never ceased to be awed not just by the power of the internet to reach across countries and form these relationships but also because it’s my love of miniature golf that has driven all of this. These side aspects of tournaments is why we keep coming back. The competition is fun, being good at the sport is great, but forming these relationships is what separates it from so many other things I could be doing.
The surprise of the day was our own “American girl” Olivia Prokopova showing up at the course! It was such a ray of sunshine to see our good friend, reigning U.S. Open champion and last year’s Team USA coach. While our spirits weren’t exactly down at the time, it was early in the afternoon and things were a little sluggish when she showed up and injected positivity and good cheer across the team. She’ll be here cheering us on during the week and it will be great to have that additional spirit on our side.
Now down to the good stuff, my predictions for the tournament. This is a tough one having never experienced the tournament, the style of play and most of the competitors.
- I think one of the USA teams will make the podium. I don’t have a specific guess on which team and it might be a little bit of homer in me since there are such a large group of strong teams, but this course really plays into the American strengths. I’d probably put the Vegas lines like this for a country winning, but I’m doing it on limited intel:
o Sweden (+200)
o Germany (+300)
o Finland (+500)
o USA (+600)
- Team USA also has a good chance of putting at least two individuals on the podium for specific classes. Again, I won’t specifically say which folks or which classes but they are out there to be had since we’ve already got the history of getting one on the podium.
- Ricard (Lockner)’s guess of the winning score will be 22.5. I’m going to put it a little bit higher at 22.75, which is taking a chance against a man who knows what he’s talking about.
- If I had to put odds on someone shooting the following scores, these are my best guesses. There’s just a couple of holes that are just touchy enough that it’s going to make the 18 tough but a few lucky bounces and it’s not out of the realm of possibility with these players.
o 18 (+2000)
o 19 (+1500)
o 20 (-100)
o 21 (-300)
- Personally, I think I can average a 25 if not better. I’m not going to win with scores like that but I think it’s achievable based on how I’ve played and how I play tournaments.
Well that’s it for tonight. Next report will be after the tournament. Good luck to all the competitors this weekend and go USA!