2006 International British Open Minigolf Tournament
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
by the way, die Ameise are ANTS.
|Pos||Player Name||Nat||Start Course||R1||R2||R3||R4||R5||R6||R7||Total||Average|
|46||BETTS , Brian||GBR||Clambers||49||45||45||44||183||45.75|
|56||HAZLEWOOD , David||GBR||Clambers||51||46||51||46||194||48.50|
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
Previous results 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000