Published on July 3rd, 2012 | by Adrian Simpson0
Interview with a Mini Golfer: Richard Gottfried
Just because things are bizarre, different or extreme doesn’t mean that they have to go at 100mph! At Chillisauce we have taken a passion in the crazy world of Crazy golf (shouldn’t laugh at my own Jokes but see what i did there!)
We have taken such a liking to it in fact, that I have signed up to become a member. And after some hard practice, i may even be tempted to sign up to one. For now however I have a member of the British Mini golfing team, Richard Gottfried to indulge us with the whacky world of windmills, holes and miniature buildings.
Robert Dawson-Goodey: How did you get into the Sport of Minigolf?
Richard Gottfried: I’ve been playing Minigolf since I was a child and I remember playing at the Crazy Golf course in my hometown when I was young and on family holidays and trips to the seaside. Back in 2006 my wife and I made a resolution to visit all of the UK’s seasides. We found most of them had a Minigolf course and we got addicted from there.
RDG: How long have you been participating?
RG: I made my BMGA Tour debut in April 2007 at the BMGA British Masters competition in Southend-on-Sea, one of my favourite seasides. I went down to practice on the Adventure Golf course the day before the tournament and got to meet Chris ‘Who’ Harding, one of the best players in the BMGA and a two-time World Crazy Golf Champion. He gave me a few tips for the very tricky course at Adventure Island which was most welcome. The next day I made my rather inauspicious debut, but got to meet a lot of great people. I was hooked and I’ve been competing ever since, winning a few tournaments along the way.
RDG: How does the scoring work, are there handicaps or is it just the best score?
RG: The rules of Minigolf are nice and simple. Basically the aim is to get the ball passed, over, under, through or around any obstacles and into the hole in as few shots as possible. International Minigolf rules set by the World Minigolf Sport Federation state that if the ball is not in the hole after six shots you must pick up the ball and mark a ‘7’ on your scorecard..
RDG: How many clubs do you own? Is there a caddy?
RG: I own two different Putters. The one I use at the moment is a NIFO Double and I’ve also got my old Fun-Sports Putter. There are over 2,000 types of special Minigolf competition balls and each year new versions are manufactured. If you were to use a normal golf putter to hit a specialist minigolf ball, rather than a rubber-faced minigolf one, you would find the reaction and outcome of the shot to be quite different.
RDG: Is your wife a minigolf widow?
RG: Back in 2007 my wife Emily came along to events and was my unofficial coach and caddy which was useful, but after she made her debut in that year’s World Crazy Golf Championships she’s taken to playing more often and we have a pretty fierce rivalry. Last year Emily defeated me in two BMGA Tour events and she plays for the Cambridgeshire Minigolf Club now so when we’re in competition mode we’re out to win, or at least beat each other!
RDG: What’s the Skill level involved in Minigolf?
RG: Minigolf is a highly skilled game. It’s not all Windmills and wonky Putters at a rundown seaside resort, although ropey courses do still exist, at the top level Minigolf is a real sport which takes co-ordination and precision to play well. When I played for Great Britain at the WMF Nations Cup in Stockholm, Sweden in 2011 one of my playing partners, Fredrik Persson, scored a perfect round of 18, scoring 18 holes-in-one in a row! That takes a mixture of skill, practice, specialist ball selection and concentration.
RDG: Is there a strict dress code?
RG: In international competitions there is. Team kits are obligatory and there are strict rules on footwear and headgear, floppy sunhats worn by British players have often been the bane of international officials. On the BMGA Tour players will normally dress for the weather conditions, we tend to play in extremes of weather as the season pretty much runs year-round so we’ll be getting a lovely suntan (or sunburn) at the BMGA British Open in Margate in the summer, but having to brave the elements in Hastings at the World Crazy Golf Championships in late October and the BMGA British Club Championships in Dorridge in November!
RDG: Have any famous golfers taken part?
RG; remember when I played in my first World Crazy Golf Championships in Hastings that Olympic Athlete Colin Jackson and International Cricketer Phil Tufnell were also in the competition filming for The One Show on BBC TV. I’m glad to say that I beat both of them quite soundly in the contest. We have had a few “club pro’s” from local Golf Clubs take part in challenge matches versus BMGA minigolfers, but they usually don’t do as well as they expected and only take part in one tournament!
RDG: Do you get groupies on tour?
RG: I can’t say that we do. I’d be happy to give an autograph if anyone wants one though.
RDG: Is it just the UK or do you compete all over the world?
RG: Since my debut in 2007 I’ve played in over 75 BMGA tournaments and played for the Great Britain Minigolf Team at Nations Cup international championships in Finland and Sweden. My wife and I have visited just under 500 of the UK’s 600 Miniature Golf courses and I’ve also played courses in Austria and the USA. On our last trip to Las Vegas I won the Putt Park Annual Mini-Golf Tournament which made a great trip even better.
RDG: Have you ever got the Yips?
RG: I wish I could say I haven’t, but there are times when your mind plays tricks on you and you doubt whether you’ve got the best line for a shot in mind. As with regular golf and other individual sports a great deal of the challenge of the game is played in your own mind.
If like me you want to try your hand at this sport then visit the BMGA. The BMGA offers two types of membership – BMGA Tour Pro and Standard – you can find out more at the BMGA Membership page at http://www.minigolf.org.uk/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=68&Itemid=64