BMGA BRITISH MASTERS 2009

Adventure Island, Southend-on-Sea, 25 April 2009

System: adventure golf

Chris Jones is the Master

"I wish I was back on the go-karts" said the woman working in the hut, who had evidently drawn this weekends shortest straw. Southend’s Adventure Island’s Inca & Aztec courses welcomed the 2009 British Masters with about the same zeal as Montezuma welcomed the Conquistadors back in the 1500’s. In the form of the course owner Mark, this Montezuma was about to have his own revenge by subjecting BMGA top-brass, Sean Homer & Keith Kellard, to a withering onslaught. In minigolfs first application of Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer treatment, Mark managed to get more of his chest since Katie Prices last Boob reduction.

Despite being one of the seasons Majors, Friday practice therefore had the feel of something much more low-key. Sean & Keith soon called it a day, His Excellency shot a couple of rounds before disappearing to investigate the world longest Pier, the Bullins arrived mid-morning and the Squire arrived mid afternoon. The only hint that one of the seasons biggies was being played the next day was the arrival of 3-times Masters champ Big Top Ted McIver who had come not only prepared for the tournament but also his trip to the far east a few hours afterwards. When the small size of his backpack was remarked upon given his forthcoming trip, seasoned traveller Ted confidently stated that he follows the maxim that he never takes anything that isn’t essential. He did concede however that his Southend course notes might be superfluous in Cambodia. (I think they were more superfluous in Sarfend - ed.)

Saturday dawned damp & cool and participants arrived to face the 18 tricky holes on offer. Of more pressing concern was how to access the course. Among those locked out initially were the Exalls who were out in force with 4 although like the Zulu tribes, they often walk in line to hide their numbers. There may well have been upwards of 10-15 in attendance. Mini Golf Royalty in the form of the Robertsons arrived with Lord Trevino of Smeeth in particularly regal form.

Late withdrawal Scott Lancley opened the door to young Adam Kelly who thought he was just going to be spectating. Saving him from a fate worse than death by a million paper cuts he was thrust into the action. Adam would eventually just miss-out on the novice prize – one to look out for in the future. Another late entrant was Bill Bullin who is literally half the man he used to be after an exercise regime to shame that of an Ironman Triathlete. Looking trim, he completed the Bullin Trinity.

As the hooter went for the first round, His Excellency rattled in a tidy Ace on the 7th to momentarily lead the field. As he pondered what colour slacks would look best with the jacket, little did he realise that his challenge, like the Thames estuary, had reached their high water mark.

Chris Jones put down a firm statement of intent by carding a 2 under 17 with Marion Homer, Chris Harding & Adam Kelly all scoring tidy 18’s to tuck in behind. After these came the bulk of the field with 20’s & 21’s although Rocky Bullin starting his day with a 24 had everyone looking at their watches to see if it was tantrum ‘o clock. Thankfully, it didn’t arrive.

Straight onto another round of the Aztec Adventure and Chris Jones again put down a 17. Chris Harding himself suffered a bit of déjà-who by posting another 18. Andy Exall, clearly worried that he was actually in danger of winning it, carded a 21 much to his relief. Settling into the mix for the No.2 position he could now relax for the afternoon rounds. Jon Angel no doubt making hay with his secret knowledge of the humps & bumps he’d put in a few weeks before scored a 17 to place him 2nd at the halfway point

With the sun now beating down, those dressed for rain were suffering and there would be no time to deposit unwanted layers back at the hut as the event was being refereed under the watchful eye of Andy ‘Sarge’ Booth who, now resplendently hirsute, looks more Sergeant Pepper than Sergeant Major. As ever, Andy found the balance of being discreet enough whilst still retaining a presence which I’m sure is appreciate by everyone playing. He did give out one warning for swearing and, amazingly, this wasn’t to Cockney Tel but to The Squire.

After a short break it was onto the Inca Challenge and Chris Jones showed no signs of letting his lead slip with a solid 18. Chris Harding’s early challenge started to falter with a 20 whilst Brad Shepard & Kevin Mosley would cement their position at the business end of the leaderboard with a pair of 18’s. Plate Thrower carded a 25 that ruined a solid start.

Onto the final round and the first sign of a wobble by Chris Jones with a 20 but given his three previous rounds, he’d done enough already and with a total 72 won by 4 shots over the world’s #1 - #2 Andy Exall despite him scoring a 17 which still wasn’t enough to close the gap. Other notable last round performances were Cockney Tel’s & Keith Kellards 18’s whilst Gareth Holmes scored 19 – his best round of the day

So to the prizes with Keith Kellard, Alan Norman, Terry Exall, Rocky Bullin & Steve Gow sharing the £20 pot for most aces while newcomer Peter Jones walked off with the novice prize with a consistent four rounds. For Chris Jones this was a dominant win and he can proudly add British Masters Champion to his sporting C.V alongside that of 2006 World Conker Champion. There was a palpable air of tension as he put the winner’s jacket on but, happily, it almost seemed to be made to measure.

The Tour now moves on to Norfolk’s Wroxham Barns that will host the English Open on the 10th May with the winner netting a special Wroxham Barns trophy being created by resident sculptor Sue Windley. 2nd place gets three BMGA branded carrier bags of Bernard Matthews off-cuts. As Norwich lady-chef Delia Smith would not doubt say "BMGA members – where are you? Lets be ‘avin you."

Words: His Excellency


CHRIS JONES CONKERS ALL 

“Oh, my magpie eyes are hungry for the prize,” begins the appropriately titled “Up The Hill & Down The Slope” by 80s band The Loft. Unfortunately, Newcastle’s John Moore was not able to defend his 2008 title, leaving British Minigolf’s crème de la crème hungrily eyeing the coveted green(ish) jacket and the prestigious title of 2009 British Masters Champion. 

Several top names, including Tim “Ace Man” Davies and Peter "Notional Lottery" Emmerson, were also unable to take part, but the remaining contenders had been keenly training in preparation for the competition. Rumours from Birmingham stated that Chris Harding had spent hours listening to an iPod specially programmed with recordings of cawing parrots, rhythmic drumming and monkeys screeching in order to acclimatise to the course conditions. Similarly, Alan “Stormin” Norman had lived off nothing but an assortment of crunchy insects and mealworms for the previous fortnight. 

Players began to gather on Friday for early practice, in order to learn the lines of the newly resurfaced course. By the Saturday morning start, 30 hopefuls were champing at the bit, eager to race out ahead of the field. Marion “DT” Homer and junior Adam Kelly both started brightly with 18s, with Adam stepping in at the very last moment to play, and having had no practice at all prior to starting the event! But Chris “Stretch” Jones led the early running, with a superb 17+17 to lead by two at the halfway stage, with Chris Harding and Jon Angel close behind. 

Play transferred to the tough Inca course, and players chatted between holes whilst waiting, to ease the tension. During one of these breaks, Ted, ever willing to impart useful information, took it upon himself to enthral Marion with a tutorial on newt courtship behaviour, revealing that male newts will perform an intricate tail-swishing dance to lure the female towards where they had left their ‘deposit’ – Brad, who had wandered into the conversation halfway through, chipped in with “What’s that? Are you talking about Tim?” 

As the round closed it became clear that Chris Jones had remained strong under pressure and gained victory by an impressive margin of 4, with a new record score of 72. Andy Exall was happy to sink a few aces to finish solidly with 76 and a second place prize of £75, improving on his 3rd place in 2007. For the 3rd place play-off there was a marathon struggle between the two minigolfing titans Brad Shepherd and Jon Angel. Even with the tension, Jon sportingly loaned his left-handed putter to Brad for a tough shot on the 3rd. At the 5th, both players tantalisingly left their tee shots less than an inch from the hole. The £50 prize was finally picked up by Jon at the 9th, taking a 3 to Brad’s 4, watched by excited crowds numbering well into double-figures. 

So a new champion had emerged, and with a little apprehension Chris Jones slipped on his well-earned Masters jacket to much applause. Peter Jones picked up the £25 novice prize with a respectable total of 87. Five players each earned themselves £1 per ace by sharing the Most Aces prize fund of £25 between them. 

So ended the 10th British Masters competition. And as for the “sad, tearful journeyman” also mentioned in The Loft’s single? Well, they will be redoubling their efforts to halve their scores at the next main event – the English Open at Wroxham Barns, Norwich on May 10th. (To anybody travelling along the A11 to this event, a request : if you should pass the Norwich City FC team coach on it’s way to League Division One, please give them a consolatory wave.) 

NB The author bears no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or downright lies contained herein. 

Words: Pill Pusher

 

Pics: Gottfried

 

POS

NAME

R1

R2

R3

R4

TOT

AVE

1

JONES, Chris

17

17

18

20

72

18.00

2

EXALL, Andy

19

21

19

17

76

19.00

3

ANGEL, Jon

19

17

20

21

77

19.25

4

SHEPHERD, Brad

19

20

18

20

77

19.25

5

MOSELEY, Kevin

21

19

18

19

77

19.25

6

GOW, Steve

19

18

21

20

78

19.50

7

HARDING, Chris

18

18

20

22

78

19.50

8

HOMER, Sean

20

19

20

20

79

19.75

9

MCIVER, John

19

21

20

19

79

19.75

10

EXALL, Terry

22

19

20

18

79

19.75

11

KELLARD, Keith

20

21

21

18

80

20.00

12

EXALL, Trevor

19

20

19

24

82

20.50

13

BULLIN, Bill

20

23

21

19

83

20.75

13

EXALL, Phil

20

23

21

19

83

20.75

15

BULLIN, Ruth

19

19

25

20

83

20.75

16

POPE, Anthony

20

22

21

21

84

21.00

17

BENDER, Lionel

21

20

23

20

84

21.00

18

JONES, Peter

22

21

22

22

87

21.75

19

HOLMES, Gareth

22

20

26

19

87

21.75

20

BULLIN, Rocky

24

22

20

22

88

22.00

21

NORMAN, Alan

21

23

20

24

88

22.00

22

HOMER, Marion

18

22

24

24

88

22.00

23

GOTTFRIED, Richard

24

22

21

22

89

22.25

24

KELLY, Adam

18

22

27

24

91

22.75

25

ROBERTSON, Trevor

22

24

24

23

93

23.25

26

CHAPMAN, Marc

22

21

25

25

93

23.25

27

HOPKINS, Richard

27

26

23

22

98

24.50

28

ROBERTSON, Martin

31

26

21

26

104

26.00

29

LESTER, Gavin

27

28

29

23

107

26.75

30

ROBERTSON, Janette

32

23

24

29

108

27.00

 

 

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