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Michael’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 09 Sep 2006

Location: London, UK

MapNever a more dissapointing day...

Not that I truly thought I had a chance of winning a mini-golf tournament, but I love mini-golf, and I get uber-competitive when I play. Anyone that has played against me before will tell you just that. I've been beaten by girls (I've lost to my sister, and lost to Lora more than once), and even lost to Clint, and then proceeded to pay for a second round for both of us, just so that I could beat him, and even then I'm not sure if it paid off with a win? So, it's obvious that my career wins isn't exactly prolific, and my love-hate relationship with the game dates even further back to an incident at Lakes Entrance where I had an uncontrolled bowel movement mid round (with no toilet in sight), ruining what was up until that stage an enjoyable game. Needless to say I had more to prove than just becomming a Champion.

Well never has a quest for a championship been shorter lived. I new it was all over when I finally made it to Charring Cross at 845am to see the 845am train to Hastings pull out... 30 seconds late. Damn journey planner. Rather than heading home and getting some more sleep (topped out at about 75 minutes last night) I decided to catch the next train, half an hour later. The only problem being that the 915 stopped at more stations and as such, actually arrived 41 minutes later. That meant I finally (after a bit of shut-eye) made it to Hastings, on what appeared to be a glorious, if a bit wind-swept, day at 11am. Registration was 1030am... maybe there was still time. After a bit of a walk, I made it to the mini-golf course by 1110am, and saw all of the players standinga round to get a photo... maybe they hadn't started and I could sneak in? The MC started reading out the groups, and I noticed some were groups of two, others were in three's... with any luck I could sneak into a group with only two.

Upon looking around, I started to ask myself if I should even bother playing. People were walking round with putters that must ahve been worth $200. Plus, did you know, that there are officially sanctioned mini-golf association golf balls that you can play with... what makes them officially sanctioned? Well they have a stamp... But how are they different? They don't have dimples... it's like putting with a solid squash ball, all smooth on the outside. Some of these guys were serious. Did you also know that official BMGA (Brittish Miniature Golf Association) Rules state that a ball can be moved up to 8 inches from a barrier, at 90 degrees to the barrier, if it impedes a swing... some of the players had rulers and shit with them. I was waiting for someone to pull out a protractor. All I bought with me was the wisdom of Bart and Lisa. "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" "If a tree falls in the woods, but no-one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" I think I was outmatched.

In the end it didn't matter. Upon querying, I was told that the first round had already been played, and they were reading out the groups for the second round. That had me shocked from the start/. If registration was at 1030am, they moved around the course pretty quickly for one round. But oh well, these were serious players, who perhaps made use of the free practise rounds yesterday to make a plan, and they stuck to it in the first round and finished it quickly. The organisers attitude wasn't very nice either, which didn't improve my mood.

Needless to say I was gutted, but decided to stick around and have a look. It was a nice day, and I had made the 1hr 40 minute journey there. I watched the second round, which in the end took over an hour (still confused how they fit the first round in) and it was definitely a wierd crowd. I would have fit in better with the Bowls Club that was next to the mini-golf course I think. Almost everyone there was in their late 40's early 50's and I even heard one woman say to her son "Go say hi to daddy, Dexter". Who in their right mind names their kid Dexter anymore? I had a feeling that I was at a GKN Engineers Social Club fnction more so that a Championship... and much like most engineering places, there wasn't a single female in sight (not true, but there weren't any playing). At the end of the first round, the tournament might have well been over, with one player having posted a 33, for a 4-stroke lead already, and a £50 bonus for the new course record.

I headed back down to the waterfront and wandered from the pier to the old town. The weather was still nice, but a bit blowier down by the water which made it a bit chilly. It didn't stop the Poms trying to savour the last of the sun that will cross England for the next 9 months.

The town is actually quite cool, and would be a meccas for family holiday makers in the summer. The area along the water front hosts another three mini-golf courses (mini-golf, crazy-golf and adventure golf - the final for the UK Open to be played on the mini-golf course, where putting accuracy is considered more than luck ie. picking the right pipe, and putting through the blades of a windmill). It also hosts a heap of in ground trampolines, blow-up bouncy catsles, miniature train rides, and other rides, a go-kart track, and other family freindly holiday stuff. They also have a heap of amusement parlours along the water front, speckled between the overflowing of pokie venues.

So... still I wait to become a Champion, and will have to find new events. Or perhaps I right this year off to experience and start looking forward to next year and pick and choose my targets carefully? Only time will tell.