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Minigolf’s coming Holm

Tue, 16 Aug 2011  |  James Palmer, UrbanCrazy

Did you know that minigolf is played as a competitive sport all around the world? Yes, it’s true! And what’s more, the Great Britain Men’s Minigolf squad, sponsored by UrbanCrazy, will soon be heading to Stockholm to take part in the World Minigolf Championships, which runs from 24-27 August.

Our players – Brad Shepherd, Marc Chapman, Michael Smith, Chris Harding, Sean Homer, Tony Kelly and John “Ted” McIver – are all ranked in the top ten of the British Minigolf Association’s Tour and have been selected to compete against 17 other nations including: Norway; Japan; France; Pakistan; Latvia and Italy at this, the most prestigious minigolf event on the planet!

Team captain, Marc Chapman explains the differences between the Swedish World Championship courses and those we are used to here in the UK: “The World Championships this year are being held across two different 18-hole courses. The ‘Eternit’ course has short, technical holes constructed with steel frames and fibre-cement planks for the playing surface. The ‘Beton’ course consists of longer holes with a smooth, polished concrete surface. Both courses are like putting on a sheet of glass!” Chapman goes on to say “These courses are very different to those we see in the UK, which normally have a felt or artificial grass covered playing surface and much more variation in design.”

Michael Smith has only been playing competitive minigolf for 19 months, but in that short time has employed his reliable putting technique in climbing to no. 1 in the British rankings, winning a number of national events in the process. He added: “This will be my third international cap and I’m hoping to gain more experience and knowledge about minigolf at the highest level. I am most looking forward to competing against the very best players in the world, both individually and as a team. We came and played on these two courses at the Nations Cup in June when I carded 237 over 8 rounds – my minimum target this time around is to knock at least 20 shots off of that score.” That would equate to scoring an average of 9 ‘hole-in-ones’ per round! Smith continues “It’s a tough target but by no means impossible.”

UrbanCrazy’s Jon Angel, himself a former member of the British Minigolf Team, knows the pressures the players will be under. “It is a culture shock” he says. “You arrive at the venue a few days ahead of the competition to find perhaps a hundred or more international players mapping out the 36 lanes then practising each one over and over again, sometimes 30 or 40 times in succession! Players carry dozens of different balls in temperature-controlled cases with each ball offering different degrees of bounce, weight and hardness, so it’s not simply a challenge of skill and technique, but also of selecting the right ball for each lane. This is key, because sometimes a triple, quadruple or even quintuple rebound shot will be necessary, often with spin, in order to score an ace.”

“The precision-manufactured courses are largely unfamiliar to the British – it certainly is a steep learning curve and the players have to adjust quickly. Once the competition gets underway the atmosphere suddenly becomes very tense, every competitor straining mind and body to achieve the lowest score.” That said, it is also incredibly enjoyable and rewarding. Angel continues “The squad will, I’m sure, have a great time in Stockholm meeting the local folk, seeing some of the sights and perhaps tucking in to the odd bowl of meatballs. Above all, they will be proud in the knowledge that they are competing for their country at the highest level in their chosen sport.”

Chapman has realistic aims for the British Team considering their minimal experience on these course types: “The German and Swedish teams I expect will be battling for the top honours, followed by the Austrian and Swiss. For Great Britain, rival nations are likely to be Russia, Portugal and Slovakia”.

All of us here at UrbanCrazy wishes the British squad, coaches and officials a successful tournament in the Swedish capital. But it’s not just UrbanCrazy who will be supporting our boys in Stockholm, the team has received a letter of support from the office of Her Majesty The Queen no less! Click here to view a copy of the letter. You can join our monarch in following the scores live from Weds 24 August.

To view photos of our players in action at the World Adventure Golf Masters in Hastings earlier this year, just click on the gallery (top right).

Photos courtesy of Marion Homer and Anna Green.

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