2006 International British Open Minigolf Tournament

Hastings,  September 9-10 2006

Karsten Hein takes the honours


The ninth British Open Minigolf Championship was played over two bright breezy days, two courses - one breezier than the other - and at a breezier pace than ever before in British minigolf.   The week leading up to it had seen a strong international field getting to grips with the treacherous seafront mini course: despite a slick misinformation campaign, the truth had leaked out that two rounds were to be played there on the Saturday. Top locals watched superciliously as early arrival German Karsten Hein meekly missed his tee shots, first to the left, then to the right. By Wednesday he was off to Canterbury sight seeing. “I didn’t come here just for minigolf,” he said. Poor guy, getting his excuses in early. He obviously stood no chance.


The easterly wind kept up for the kick off on Saturday, disappointing the British players who had hoped for a change in the weather to render the days of practice useless and send the overseas players’ balls exactly there.  It was their turn to decode the misinformation and register at the course they were actually starting on, rather than turning up in the middle of the night half a mile away, as instructed.


Shock resistant Hastings residents ignored the synchronised hooters, and the showcase event of the year was underway.  The mini came up with goods – three aces were the most achieved by Julius Lindholm from Finland, novice Matthew Lelliott from Brighton, and the surprise tourist Karsten, whose 34 put him two shots in the lead at the seafront. Others took in the view from all directions as they putted round and round the cup on the 8th, the 15th, well all the holes really. An exception was Craig Brookes who had played his first competition the day before and whose brisk potting brought from his experience in pool (the game, not the course) pushed him past most of the favourites. His 38 included a 5 on the plateau at the 12th.


At the more sheltered Clambers course, only Peter Parr got under par with a 33, four shots ahead of Lionel Bender. Lionel must have followed his own ace line on the second, as reportedly shown to Nick Sessions from the BBC, a strangely waving shot. Lionel got twos every time. Nick had disappeared after watching the overseas players practising on Clambers on the Friday, playfully filling the cup on the 16th with golf balls until the unlucky last players’ shots just didn’t have room to go in. “I’m glad I’m not playing now I see these guys” he said. “You didn’t think you were going to win, did you?” were my only words to him. Bang goes my chance at media officer and a glitzy career with the BBC.


Parr continued to lead the field after two rounds, jointly with Karsten Hein and Finn Jouni Valkjärvi who was the defending champion. The U.S. Masters and Irish Open Champion Hans Olofsson was four shots adrift after two rounds - he may have been more shaken than he realised by the sight of a few jokers practising on the Crazy at 7.00 a.m. that morning. “Didn’t you realise there are two rounds here tomorrow?” the wits taunted him.


 “There are no aces out there,” complained Julius as he handed in the scorekeeper’s dream – 18 twos. If only they were all like that, we could have had eight rounds a day. However Olivia Prokopova from the Czech Republic, whose reported age varies like the correct line on the third, hit three aces, as did London’s Steve Gow. But local world crazy champion Tim 'Ace Man' Davies holed a miraculous SEVEN aces; even more unbelievably he wiped out five of them by failing to pot the ball at all on the 2nd finishing on 34. Robert Vallory, finding his form, as he himself said “too little, too late” hit a perfect shot there, off the left hand boundary it was perfect line, perfect pace, in all the way: he was willing to sell and Tim would have given his soul and those of his family, but fortunately the rules of minigolf are not those of Faust.


It was time for lunch and more confusion. Why don’t we just keep playing, it would be so much easier, get on with it! But maybe it was good to reflect, recall the literally jaw dropping, this has never happened to me before, possibly because my mouth has never been closed long enough, but it did drop open when I saw British Champion John “more nick names than you can shake a stick at” Moore slam the ball at the wall on the 4th for it to rebound straight up into the hole for an ace. The ball never goes straight, anywhere, on the 4th. John smiled an “I meant that” smile and calmly took the score sheet.


Also I tried to remember Hans Olofsson’s lines, his “safe two” technique which was to lead him to share the top of the board with Jouni at the end of the first day, but not repeating his Doppler shift away into the distance that he achieved in Belfast. Possibly he was distracted by being able to understand what we were saying. I did see him do a classic ace on the 7th – out to the left, curves round to the right and smoothly in.


The players swap courses, most manage to find the excellent value lunch put on specially, catch up on the scores cunningly hidden away at the sides of the huts, tell themselves it means nothing, and carry on.


At the seafront, as Head Referee I finish two competitors’ ice creams, risk arrest by asking a passing child to sound the hooter (a keen adult obliges) and they’re off. A gap opens up between the 17th and the 5th. Should I move anyone on? Having moved groups on in the morning only to leave them waiting at the next hole, I restrain myself. A child about 4 suddenly jumps down the boundary wall, heading straight for the flag on the 2nd. He bends down, feels around the hole. He puts his hand in. Have mysterious forces that repelled Tim’s ball earlier in the day attracted him? Is he controlling them? Will he break the spell, or reinforce it? I feel impelled to remove this alien influence from the game and after he refuses to take my hand, lift him bodily across the course to replace him on the path. He signs at me and expertly removes my watch. Then he throws his arms around me as I take it back. I am prepared to learn sign language and devote the rest of my life to caring for this little powerhouse, but after about half an hour an adult who probably also has never clapped eyes on the child before appears, and grabs him off me. We wave a desperate goodbye and I check my watch is still there.


Astonishingly, play has continued without my benignly intentioned interference. I spot a ball in the water. “Do you know it’s a penalty to take it out?” (Probably not, since I failed to mention this in the send off speech.)  I feel more anxious than any competitor as Brian Betts elects to play it out of the pond. Thank goodness he lands it near the hole and in for a three.


Rocky Bullin was going well, despite me walking off with his ball at the start of the round. If he couldn’t win, he wanted to get his own back on Seve Kukielka for taking the Junior Champion title off him in Taunton earlier in the year. Seve showed it was not a fluke by playing three solid rounds, including a 39 on the wickedly deceptive Clambers course. The seemingly innocent 3rd tripped him up in the final round but he still only missed the cut by a single shot. Rocky’s experience told, and he got through to Sunday.


Reluctant film star David Harding didn’t have the stamina to maintain his early good form, or had he just spent too long practicing Clambers? He was another one to miss the cut by a shot. Russ Dent, unsure to the last whether he’d made it, was in, but I’m not speaking about Russ since he turned down the chance to do this write up and that’s why I’m here at 5.00 a.m. and he’s probably sleeping soundly somewhere.


Now The Conqueror’s skills came to the fore, with “Bullin Night-time Tours in the Dark” for fellow competitors. Chris Harding (Who?) proved susceptible to this technique, he must have spent Sunday puzzling over the meaning of ascending pitch black paths: under the sustained bombardment of Bill’s plans for future BMGA events, even the walls of Bodiam Castle looked more crumbly in the morning, but Chris slipped from 8 shots off the lead on Saturday night, to end in 9th place with a 5 shot gap in front of him. Most of the rest of us would have been ecstatic at such a finish, but it was a disaster for the UK’s current unofficial number one.


Keith Kellard had his own anti-motivational program, but despite all his efforts he still finished tenth, and third Brit. He had been conducting an intensive driving study of the A21, up and down, down and up, like he was colouring it in and had missed bits, putting in a couple of quick rounds of the competition and checking the score system was working properly before getting back on the road. Was he being sponsored?


So Sunday was still bright, not so breezy. Hot, in fact. Marion Homer had pulled herself from the brink with a fine performance in the afternoon at Clambers, missing the cut by only two shots and finishing as the UK’s leading female (OK, out of 2). She sportingly returned on the Sunday to cheer on hubby Sean who devised a cunning raffle and brought her college work with him to keep her away from his game.


Karsten wandered round the (bowling) course before sauntering back to the hotel for breakfast. Jouni was concentrating on selling his Ball of Fame, resisting all our attempts to bargain and beat him down. Of the top three only Hans was practising sensibly. When were these players going to start taking it seriously?


However, the overseas players stuck together, all putting in workmanlike (there were no women apart from 3 year old Olivia) rounds to dominate the top third of the score sheets. Swiss Viking Hagar was disappointed with his overall performance but pulled up 5 places nevertheless. He was a Bullin Tour Survivor extraordinaire.


The two top Novices were tied and here the tension was more as I expected. They had passed the MENSA rated test of working out whether they were eligible or not, so getting sub 40s was the easy bit. Richard Stephenson was under the slight handicap of never having visited Clambers before, but he clearly was a fast learner, his 47 and resistance to Steve Gow’s tips on the Saturday must have contributed to his opening Sunday round of 38. With both him and Matthew Lelliott seeming to feel the pressure in the final round, it was enough to secure Stephenson the title and £50 prize.


Peter Parr’s early success stood him in good stead and he finished 4th Brit, one shot ahead of Thighs. Paul Moore had put in a startling performance to finish ahead of Olivia Prokopova (11) (really) who took the Women’s Cup and a new and probably never to be repeated £50 cheque as reward for this. She tied with Andy Exall, who’s “is it all worth it” crisis (translate: “glimmer of contact with the real world”) of just a few hours before was presumably well and truly dismissed by his very commendable 16th place finish.


Veteran Ted BigTop McIver’s pre tournament preparation (none) was justly rewarded by ending 17th with half his rounds being over 40. He tied with Craig Brookes, who was playing his first weekend of competitive minigolf to probably Ted’s zillionth, and on BigTop’s home course; well, his home, really. 


Tim Davies had resisted the temptation to shoot himself after that 7 and turned up to try again, he put in a couple of decent rounds to scrape into the top four slot, which was now five, as quiet Swede Torgny Kjellstrom had equalled the (much disputed) course record of 28, which propelled him into the Super Final from his ninth place start. Hans Olofsson tied with them on 210. Jouni had shown last year’s victory was repeatable, going into the final in second place with 206. But the leader was kool Karsten on 203. 203 for six rounds! He could have done three rounds for every two by the 63rd placed player and still beaten them.


The Super Final got off to a tense start at the first with the motor racing commentary coming over loud and clear from Ted’s TV in the hut. None of the tied players aced it. Davies's ball ricocheting off the flag on his first shot.  On the second, Aceman started living up to his name, and continued all down the straight, acing 5 of the first 10 holes. Torgny for some reason – maybe it had worked before – tried to go between the left hand rock and the boundary, trickled to a dismal halt in the undergrowth. With amazing lack of ambition and a truly awesomely overdeveloped sense of fair play, Torgny neither moved his ball away from the obstruction nor did he get the pruning shears out – such is the justice in this world that his honesty was repaid by his ball failing to make it into the pot and he took a 3.


On the fifth Aceman made up for his rookie performance in the earlier round where he had timidly gone for the right hand pipe rather than roll the ball off the incline to the precipice and have a chance for the middle one. This time he was straight down and in for a two. Both the Swedes took a more normal 3. By the 10th they were being worn away by Tim’s alternate aces and twos, and had to go for it – both paid the price with 3s. All Aceman had to do was what he does every waking hour – keep playing. Apart from missing a “bread and butter” putt (his words) on the 15th, he did exactly that. Torgny again showed his anti- Potteresque tendencies by (I believe) genuinely needing the loo, yet giving ample warning of his intention to take a comfort break and choosing to go prior to the easiest hole on the course!!! And the only one who didn’t ace it was ….Torgny. That guy needs a tactics course.


At the last hole it was all over, but Tim aced it just the same, finishing on 30. The group had been too far adrift at the start to hope of catching the leaders. Torgny had not surprisingly been unable to repeat his 28, and put in a 35, which still included 4 aces. Hans had the two bogeys described, but 5 aces were enough to take him to 33 and fourth prize of £50. Aceman picked up £100 for 3rd place, plus £50 for being the leading Brit.


In the leading group Jouni put Karsten under pressure with two immediate aces and one on the 6th, to negate the German’s lead. Karsten watched his ball roll round the 7th – he still had not had an ace. However, the 8th put that right, only for him to watch Jouni cheekily get the treacherous 10th in one. A very courageous shot, as the previous round had witnessed Jouni having a waking nightmare here, taking a 5. Karsten needed to change his previous safe two tactics at this hole to stay ahead: he did.


After Jouni had taken his shot on the 11th Karsten was kneeling by the tee studying a small electronic device he had carried around all weekend. He aced that hole and the next as well. Three in a row! Did the electronic device contain his course notes? Or perhaps the secrets of some autonomic exercises he should perform at critical junctures? I asked him afterwards. “Oh no,” he smiled calmly, “It is my dictionary. I was looking up the English word for the creatures on the course – die Ameise.”


Jouni must have thought he had done enough at least for a play off chance to repeat his 2005 victory as he came back with aces on the 12th and 13th. Then Karsten miss hit his tee shot on the 15th, his backswing striking the bricks, too late to stop the shot. It clattered over the bridge and sank into the hole. The truculent, sulky, smouldering, chain smoking Jouni we had taken to our hearts as 2005 Champion was nowhere in evidence as he graciously and sportingly congratulated his opponent on the ace.


Although Jouni finished with a spectacular 30, he afterwards aced only the 16th (which of course Karsten did too) jumping around in frustration as he underhit the 17th. His 30 finish was two shots ahead of Karsten’s round, but it was one shot short of the title, and he accepted the £200 runners up prize. The £500 went to Karsten Hein: the kool, the meek, the measured, the skilful tourist lexicographer and 2006 British Open Champion.


Words: Ruth Bullin

Thanks to fellow referees Jon Angel and Keith Kellard; to Richard Munro for helping with the scores and general bonhomie; Ted and Elvey Skelton, David and Marion Hartley at the huts for year round hard work and hospitality; presentation of the courses, announcements; lunches, and much more; APPC for the courses and sponsorship; Bill Bullin for finally putting down the mike; and everyone for playing in such a fantastic sporting spirit and hopefully having a great time.


And, by the way, die Ameise are ANTS.


Pos Player Name Nat Start Course R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Total Average
1 HEIN, Karsten GER Mini 34 37 35 34 30 33 32 235 33.57
2 VALKJÄRVI, Jouni FIN Mini 36 35 31 37 32 35 30 236 33.71
3 DAVIES, Tim GBR Mini 39 34 36 33 36 32 30 240 34.29
4 OLOFSSON, Hans SWE Mini 37 38 31 33 34 37 33 243 34.71
5 KJELLSTROM, Torgny SWE Mini 37 39 39 35 32 28 35 245 35.00
6 DINAU, Bjorn SWE Mini 37 37 36 32 36 36   214 35.67
7 LINDHOLM, Julius FIN Mini 36 36 39 38 34 34   217 36.17
8 SPIDRA, Marek CZE Mini 37 38 38 35 34 35   217 36.17
9 HARDING, Chris GBR Mini 40 41 32 34 36 39   222 37.00
10 KELLARD, Keith GBR Mini 36 40 40 35 36 41   228 38.00
11 WUETHRICH, Marcus SUI Mini 39 37 39 40 39 36   230 38.33
12 PARR, Peter GBR Clambers 33 38 43 40 37 40   231 38.50
13 MOORE, John GBR Clambers 39 40 37 36 39 41   232 38.67
14 MOORE, Paul GBR Clambers 40 39 41 38 40 37   235 39.17
15 PROKOPOVA, Olivia CZE Mini 40 40 39 40 42 35   236 39.33
16 EXALL, Andy GBR Clambers 39 37 41 38 39 42   236 39.33
17 MCIVER, Ted GBR Clambers 41 34 44 36 44 38   237 39.50
18 BROOKES, Craig GBR Mini 38 39 45 40 38 37   237 39.50
19 GOW, Steve GBR Mini 39 37 46 39 37 40   238 39.67
20 SHEPHERD, Brad GBR Mini 41 43 45 43 34 36   242 40.33
21 LONNGREN, Petri FIN Mini 42 38 49 38 39 36   242 40.33
22 HOMER, Sean GBR Mini 38 39 36 46 40 43   242 40.33
23 BENDER, Lionel GBR Clambers 37 41 46 40 41 38   243 40.50
24 CORKETT, David GBR Clambers 45 41 40 40 38 41   245 40.83
25 BULLIN, Bill GBR Clambers 41 42 42 40 38 42   245 40.83
26 STEPHENSON, Richard GBR Mini 36 39 47 44 38 44   248 41.33
27 BULLIN, Rocky GBR Clambers 38 42 44 43 42 45   254 42.33
28 LELLIOTT, Matthew GBR Mini 39 43 39 45 42 46   254 42.33
29 DENT, Russ GBR Clambers 45 42 40 43 44 42   256 42.67
30 BOOTH, Andrew GBR Clambers 39 47 42 46 40 47   261 43.50
31 PENFOUND, Richard GBR Mini 46 37 47 44 49 47   270 45.00
32 VALLORY, Steve GBR Clambers 41 41 38 41 w/d w/d   161 40.25
33 PRENDERGAST, Neil GBR Clambers 45 37 41 46 w/d w/d   169 42.25
34 MCCAMBRIDGE, Brendan GBR Clambers 47 43 42 42 w/d w/d   174 43.50
35 HARDING, David GBR Clambers 39 41 49 46       175 43.75
36 KUKIELKA, Seve GBR Mini 44 42 39 50       175 43.75
37 HOMER, Marion GBR Mini 47 49 38 42       176 44.00
38 VALLORY, Robert GBR Clambers 46 44 47 39       176 44.00
39 HOLMES, Gareth GBR Mini 46 38 47 46       177 44.25
40 PITTAWAY, Wayne GBR Clambers 44 47 41 45       177 44.25
41 HARPER, Roy GBR Clambers 45 45 46 41       177 44.25
42 LEEB, Giselle GBR Mini 43 49 44 43       179 44.75
43 PARKER, Andrew GBR Clambers 48 51 41 41       181 45.25
44 KEAL, Nigel GBR Clambers 49 41 45 47       182 45.50
45 JONES, Chris GBR Mini 39 43 48 53       183 45.75
46 BETTS , Brian GBR Clambers 49 45 45 44       183 45.75
47 BEN-NATHAN, Paul GBR Mini 43 46 44 51       184 46.00
48 MATTHEWS, Andrew GBR Clambers 46 47 48 43       184 46.00
49 WILLIAMS, John GBR Clambers 52 49 41 44       186 46.50
50 BOWEN, Geoff GBR Clambers 38 47 57 45       187 46.75
51 WARD, Marc GBR Clambers 53 42 46 46       187 46.75
52 ODONNELL, Michael GBR Clambers 54 45 44 45       188 47.00
53 GOBLE, Simon GBR Mini 50 47 44 49       190 47.50
54 WILLIAMS, Dave GBR Clambers 50 51 44 46       191 47.75
55 PEACHER, Mark GBR Clambers 50 43 50 49       192 48.00
56 HAZLEWOOD , David GBR Clambers 51 46 51 46       194 48.50
57 KUKIELKA, Jas GBR Mini 46 46 50 54       196 49.00
58 WILLIAMS, Kevin GBR Clambers 51 52 45 49       197 49.25
59 WOOLGAR, Alan GBR Clambers 57 49 50 43       199 49.75
60 WILLIAMS, Brian GBR Mini 44 51 55 50       200 50.00
61 WILLIAMS, Justin GBR Clambers 54 52 51 45       202 50.50
62 PITTAWAY, Alex GBR Clambers 52 50 48 52       202 50.50
63 FARRIS, Paul GBR Clambers 54 56 45 50       205 51.25
64 ELLISTON, David GBR Clambers 60 54 50 54       218 54.50
65 BAKER, Marc GBR Clambers 65 58 50 49       222 55.50
66 GREEN, Daniel GBR Mini 56 47 w/d w/d       103 51.50


Pics: Olivia Prokopova



Pics: John Moore


Pics: Karsten Hein

Clambers  Review of the course    Pictures of the course

Seafront mini golf  Review of the course    Pictures of the course

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