Some five years ago, I discovered minigolf by complete accident. I recently blogged about my journey, hoping you could somehow relate to the story of how the sport has transformed my whole life. Now, I am writing to thank you. I was going to discuss the World Adventure Golf Masters at Horni Bezdekov in the Czech Republic but other than a short paragraph, I cannot. The tournament itself was an excellent experience and I can only highly commend our hosts, Daniel and Jitka, everyone who helped organise the event, the sponsors and the rich tapestry of competitors which made this the most successful competition I have had the pleasure of taking part in. I know I am not alone in my congratulations and I hope they are taking a well-earned rest and a glass of beer or wine.
The World Adventure Golf Masters in 2018 will forever be remembered by myself as a personal low point in my life. Saturday night and 726 miles from home, I was told that my mum, who has been dealing with numerous operations and illness over the last few months, had only a few days to live. Her last operation hadn’t worked as hoped and it was now too dangerous to perform any further surgery. I didn’t want to believe it, I hadn’t even counted on an end of life scenario and for a few hours, I experienced shock. My roommate Ed had comforted me as best he could and after a shower and change of clothes, I joined the large numbers of the field at the dinner table. I was silent. Just trying to take my thoughts in. Adrian asked how I was. Bobby looked across and nodded respectfully. I knew everyone was aware of the news, which was a relief that I didn’t feel I had to discuss anything.
As the sun started setting and the group thinned out to around ten of us, we were just down to the Commonwealth. Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia. I was included in the group as we discussed what can only be described as ‘urban terms’. For a short time, I just let my guard down and began to smile. For a time during the evening, I had considered flying home on the Sunday and even checked details online. Mum’s wishes were for me to finish the WAGM and with the twilight hour of mirth, I decided to battle. I barely slept, waking to cry often, updating my social media.
I will never forget Sunday for as long as I live. With mum fighting on back home, I was fighting every possible emotion. Gunnar was the first to see me and gave me a hug and wished me well for the day. Being one of the later groups out, I didn’t want any practice so I arrived around an hour before. As I walked into the complex, a number of players approached me, wishing me well, saying they were thinking of me and giving me the moral support to finish mum’s wish. To cross the line. I had lost interest in my performance, the goalposts had moved, but I just wanted to summon strength to go putting for two more rounds.
I could feel the support of my teammates as I set off on my way and I had the help of Will and Markku, my playing partners. It wasn’t long before I made my ace and bellowed out “FOR YOU, MUM!”, which probably the nearest town heard. I did this after each ace and although I did drop a couple along the way, I kept up the concentration, sinking a few tricky second putts. I withdrew myself into my own bubble for the rest of the round, securing a 35. During the downtime, a number of fellow players took time to sit with me. People from around the world showed such compassion, it was so hard to hold it all in.
As I set out for the final time, I knew everything would hit me at some point. I could have folded after a pair of bogies on five and six but I fought back with a pair of aces on nine and ten. I started to become tearful on hole 16, my sunglasses steamed up and I had to back away from putts. I was shaking and I could no longer control what was going on inside. I might as well be shooting with a stick of spaghetti. How I ever finished with three two’s for another 35, I can’t answer that. I broke down and sat on the first in desperation. I had achieved mum’s wishes. Eventually, I was helped to my feet and it took me a while to regain some composure. During the afternoon, my Great Britain teammates involved me in a number of fun activities, including a round on the new course and even kicking a ball around the course. I scored a 40 with my foot.
As the day turned into evening and the closing ceremony turned into full swing, I will admit I let myself go and was determined to enjoy the occasion. Most of those there will have documented the dancing. With the love and support from the minigolf world, I now understand that minigolf is more than a sport that has given me a wealth of experiences. Minigolf is now my second family. We all come from differing backgrounds with the same interest at the core, sometimes with it being the only thing we have in common. I will never forget the friendships I have made in minigolf and how everyone raised me to complete the task in hand will be my overriding memory. My mum is still just about with us and fighting on. She is much loved by all, a loving woman with a caring and infectious personality. Her legacy to me will be say to the people I care about “thank you” and “I love you” more often.
To everyone who took the time to get me through the World Adventure Golf Masters of 2018, thank you and I love you.