European MiniGolf Championships 2002

August 21-24. Venue: Prague, Czech Republic

 

What follows is a peculiarly British perspective of the European Championships which will be updated as and when, for full details of the competition you could have seen the excellent official site, but it's disappeared.

The bulk of the British team arrived in Prague in survival mode after a 22 hour coach trip (14/8-15/8), not the ideal way to build team spirit!  That afternoon we skipped off to the course for a taster of what was to come.

Our coach Thomas Zeininger arrived on the Monday as did our celebrity and that's when we began to fully understand the enormity of our task.

Both Ted and I had real problems with the Eternit course, it looked like something a child would happily idle the day away on.  I'd come across one many years earlier in Dortmund and remember thinking at the time that it was something to be avoided in the future, who could have foreseen being confronted by one ten years later in a European Championship.  Towards the end of the event we both accepted that it was a true test of skill and mentally adjusted accordingly.  It took us all of ten days though!

Most of our earlier practice ie from Thursday through Sunday had been in vain as the coach chose better balls and lines for each hole.  And we also found that having a coach meant people didn't push in or give us a hard time.  In other words we got respect or rather Thomas our coach did.  We were no longer those incompetent Brits, we were a team with a coach but still incompetent.  One look from our fiery coaches eyes was enough to send any seasoned player scuttling for cover.  He also developed a strangely grotesque roar which we were to utter on getting an ace.  Some took to this with glee, like me, for getting aces wasn't really a problem, it was the fours and fives that were.  So I happily taunted the referees with my Grrrrrrs.  Oddly enough I was never warned although at times my roar became quite manic.

That brings us nicely on to the 'Bad Boys of British Minigolf', Michael Webb and myself.

Michael happily accepted a verbal warning for time wasting and I apparently got one for my behaviour!  The referees seemed to have missed my behaviour when I was about to decapitate some of the Austrian team and coaches after they stood there laughing at my attempts to negotiate the 'Cheese'.  Michael was desperate to get a written warning and duly fumbled with his notes and chatted with referees but to no avail.  Ian (or should I call him 'Ion' as every non-Brit did) somehow avoided a sanction by throwing down his putter forcefully in front of a referee, it even cart-wheeled a couple of times.  He would have got more than a sanction from Thomas whose putter it was.  And why was he using Thomas's putter - well, in a jet-lagged haze he had inadvertently left his own putter in the taxi, and how do we know that?  The taxi driver returned it - it wouldn't happen in England!

I feel I should explain the incident that led to the rest of the British team calling me a cheat.  I was having a drink rueing my last round, I did a lot of that,  when our friend the Finnish referee with a smile on his face said, "who's been a naughty boy then".  I looked at him in disbelief.  I said I had no idea what he was talking about, so off he went to clarify it. Indeed I had been a naughty boy and it related to an incident on the first hole of the Beton.  I was still unsure what he was on about and then he said the magic word, shadow.  I was incredulous, I had been labelled a cheat for requesting my coach try and do something about the shadows that were jumping up and down on the line of my putt.  The coach stood still in front of everybody casting his shadow over the course and hey presto I was no longer distracted.  The referee piped up, "you can't do that" and that apparently was my verbal warning for cheating.  I was mortified, at the time I had no idea that I had done anything wrong.  Ted, as is his way, immediately spotted the referee in question and engaged him in conversation about the incident hoping that he would confirm that I was a cheat.  Strangely enough, he said he might have misinterpreted the situation and may well have been wrong.  As he walked past me I gave him a cold stare.

I should also mention the greeting we got on the 7th hole at Beton.  It was simple.  "Welcome to the 7th hole".  It was delivered in a unique perfectly enunciated way by our friend the Estonian basketball referee.  It instilled worry, it provoked fear, it was the 7th hole.  If further explanation is needed see the pictures. Beton pictures

Rudy was also kind enough to let the team have access to a strange club to be used especially for the dreaded 7th hole, it was a short club with a funny handle and a very large rubber head.  I didn't get on with it at all and so used my putter.  The rest of the team gratefully accepted the offer and I have to say made a bit of a mess of it.  This was mainly due to the fact that they were using my beautifully hand-crafted plastic tee, sadly lost mid-competition, which stood all of an inch above the concrete surface.  Concrete and Italian clubs don't mix.

This hole was also the scene of another coaching master class by Thomas when seeing me paste two balls well to the right and out of bounds during the competition.   Simple really, drop your left foot back a little and hey presto straight down the middle.  I wish I'd brought my eight iron, I found a five iron from an unknown team and whacked one into the tree above the netting in practice.  Team note: Next time we should take a childrens five iron with a stuck-on rubber face and half-inch a rubber tee from a driving range.  Well, OK we'll probably end up in lengthy negotiations about purchasing one.

There were many other magical coaching moments, most too earthy to relate here.  Ted got more than his fair share of flak.  He lacked the fire in his eyes, he lacked oomph, in the coaches words "he putted like a woman". Which became, in an unexpected flash of political correctness at the British Open, "you putt like a girl".  One of his most off-putting (pun partially intended) reactions to a poor shot was to bend backwards hands clasped firmly over his eyes.  When you saw that, you knew, you just knew all was not well and it was probably going to get worse.  That said, Thomas was inspirational, if there was a church of minigolf and Thomas was the preacher, I'd still be jumping up and down at the front, shouting "I believe!".  No mountain of food is high  enough, no lake of drink deep enough and every woman has an endearing feature - he is the Coach.  Other teams were so impressed they tried to book him for future competitions. Hands off, you know who you are, he's ours!

Another bone of contention was the team shirt, each of us had one.  One only for three days of intense competition, needless to say we began to smell.  That aside the main reason no one wanted to swap shirts at the end of the competition was that it was beyond naff. A shocked Italian even commented in a quizzical fashion "You've changed your shirt?", meaning I think, he was surprised that someone was willing to swap.  I tried to explain that, as the friendly Finn had pointedly said, we were now tourists;  it being the last day and none of us had made the cut.  Oh for an Italian shirt....

And thanks again to Rudy Giroldini for his help and encouragement and the loan of a crucial ball.  Which brings me on to another faux pas by yours truly.  Rudy was watching us struggle on a particularly annoying hole and immediately leant us a ball, which worked perfectly - the Miroslav Stoparic Ball of Fame.  While practicing the hole we kept getting interrupted by two very pushy individuals from Belgium.  The snotty little kid was really getting on my nerves, so I decided to engage them in conversation.   It became apparent that communication wasn't there strong point.  I asked the older one if he thought the ball was any good, he looked at me strangely.  It turned out as we were watching the Super Final that the guy who I had questioned about the ball was in fact the man himself, Miroslav Stoparic of Germany.  That might also explain the Flemish obscenities uttered by the snotty little kid everytime I saw him.  I look forward to our next encounter and hope that our coach will give the little brat a good smack.

Our Finnish referee friend grabbed Mr. Michael Webb's course notes and uttered the unforgettable line - 'I see no answers only questions'.  That seemed to sum up our experience.

It looks like our next outing will be to Bad Münder, home of the Nations Cup (6th and 7th June) and World Championships (20th to 23rd August) in 2003, hopefully our friend from Germany will give us a helping hand.  And more importantly, fingers crossed, Coach will be available.....

In Search of the Tiger  Ian Stafford Paperback (5 June, 2003) Ebury Press; ISBN: 0091886562
Order it now with amazon.co.uk.   This book recounts Ian's attempts to come to grips with golf.  Ian or 'Ion' as he was better known took part in the European minigolf Championships in Prague as part of the British team.  This is one of the chapters in the book.  And Ion, just remember who picked up your bar tab!

Pos

Start no.

 

 

 

1

E

2

B

3

E

4

B

5

E

6

B

7

B

8

E

Total

102

86

Webb Michael

GBR

M

29

39

31

39

31

39

341

30

272

103

101

Pintér József

HUN

M

35

40

29

40

31

36

36

31

278

104

90

Parr Peter

GBR

M

35

37

37

342

27

341

44

35

283

105

83

Davies Tim

GBR

M

33

36

34

351

36

40

45

242

283

106

87

Hladnik Ignac

SLO

M

40

39

40

30

28

43

43

27

290

107

91

McIver John

GBR

M

46

38

37

41

30

38

46

33

309

108

82

Stafford Ian

GBR

M

38

45

31

49

37

45

42

39

326

109

19

Tervaskangas Anssi*

FIN

M

32

21

33

 

 

 

 

 

86

 

1 Equalled British Record

2 New British Record

E   Eternit

B   Beton

* Retired due to an allergic reaction to a wasp sting

 

English Open

1. Michael Webb 272

2. Peter Parr 283

3. Tim Davies 283

4. John McIver 309

5. Ian Stafford 326

(Equal scores, position decided on using least difference between high and low scores by course type)

 

British Eternit Championship

1. Michael Webb 121

2. Tim Davies 127

3. Peter Parr 134

4. Ian Stafford 145

5. John McIver 146

 

British Beton Championship

1. Peter Parr 149

2. Michael Webb 151

3. Tim Davies 156

4. John McIver 163

5. Ian Stafford 181

 

Hole by Hole scores

 

ETERNIT

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

Ian Stafford

38

1

2

2

2

1

4

1

5

2

1

1

3

3

1

2

2

3

2

38

Tim Davies

33

1

1

2

2

3

1

2

4

1

1

1

2

3

1

1

2

2

3

33

Michael Webb

29

1

1

2

2

1

1

1

4

2

2

2

1

2

1

2

2

1

1

29

Peter Parr

35

1

2

2

2

1

2

3

2

4

1

1

2

3

1

2

2

1

3

35

John McIver

46

2

2

3

2

2

4

1

4

3

5

4

6

1

1

1

1

2

2

46

Ian Stafford

31

1

1

1

1

2

5

2

2

1

1

1

1

4

1

2

2

2

1

31

Tim Davies

34

1

1

2

2

1

4

3

4

3

3

1

1

2

1

2

1

1

1

34

Michael Webb

31

2

1

2

2

1

1

1

2

5

1

2

1

2

1

3

1

1

2

31

Peter Parr

37

2

1

3

2

2

3

3

3

1

5

1

1

2

1

2

1

2

2

37

John McIver

37

2

1

3

3

2

1

1

5

2

1

2

1

7

1

2

1

1

1

37

Ian Stafford

37

2

1

2

2

1

2

3

4

1

3

4

1

3

1

2

1

3

1

37

Tim Davies

36

1

1

2

2

2

2

1

6

2

2

2

1

6

1

1

2

1

1

36

Michael Webb

31

3

1

2

2

1

1

2

4

4

1

1

1

2

1

1

1

1

2

31

Peter Parr

27

1

1

2

2

2

2

1

3

1

2

1

2

2

1

1

1

1

1

27

John McIver

30

1

1

3

1

1

1

1

2

2

1

1

1

3

1

1

1

3

5

30

Ian Stafford

39

2

2

2

2

2

4

3

2

7

1

1

1

3

1

2

1

1

2

39

John McIver

33

2

2

2

2

2

1

1

2

2

5

1

2

3

1

1

1

1

2

33

Michael Webb

30

1

1

2

1

1

3

2

1

3

2

1

2

4

1

2

1

1

1

30

Peter Parr

35

2

1

3

2

2

3

1

2

1

1

2

2

4

1

2

2

1

3

35

Tim Davies

24

1

1

2

2

2

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

3

1

1

2

1

1

24

BETONG

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

Ian Stafford

45

2

1

1

7

2

2

3

2

1

2

1

2

3

2

6

4

2

2

45

Tim Davies

36

2

1

3

2

2

2

3

2

1

2

1

2

2

2

3

3

1

2

36

Michael Webb

39

2

2

1

2

3

2

3

2

3

2

1

2

2

2

2

2

2

4

39

Peter Parr

37

1

1

1

1

3

2

4

3

1

2

1

2

2

3

2

2

2

4

37

John McIver

38

2

2

1

2

2

2

3

2

2

2

1

2

2

2

2

4

3

2

38

Ian Stafford

49

2

2

2

5

2

2

5

5

5

2

1

2

2

2

3

3

2

2

49

Tim Davies

35

2

1

2

2

2

2

4

2

2

2

1

1

2

2

2

3

2

1

35

Michael Webb

39

1

1

1

3

2

4

3

3

3

2

1

2

3

2

2

2

2

2

39

Peter Parr

34

1

2

1

3

2

2

3

2

1

2

2

2

1

2

2

2

2

2

34

John McIver

41

2

1

2

4

2

2

7

4

1

2

1

1

2

2

3

2

2

1

41

Ian Stafford

45

2

3

2

4

2

2

3

4

4

2

2

2

2

3

3

2

2

1

45

Tim Davies

40

1

1

4

4

3

2

3

2

3

2

1

2

2

1

3

2

2

2

40

Michael Webb

39

2

1

2

2

2

2

3

2

1

2

1

2

3

2

2

2

3

5

39

Peter Parr

34

1

2

2

2

2

2

2

3

1

2

1

1

2

2

2

2

2

3

34

John McIver

38

2

2

2

2

2

3

4

3

2

2

1

2

3

2

2

2

1

1

38

Ian Stafford

42

2

2

1

3

2

4

3

2

2

2

2

2

4

2

3

3

2

1

42

John McIver

46

2

5

3

3

2

2

5

2

2

2

2

3

3

2

2

2

2

2

46

Tim Davies

45

2

2

2

3

2

2

3

4

4

1

1

3

2

2

2

2

2

6

45

Michael Webb

34

2

2

1

1

1

2

3

2

3

2

2

2

2

2

3

2

1

1

34

Peter Parr

44

2

2

2

3

2

2

3

3

1

2

1

3

2

2

3

2

2

7

44

 

Michael Webb, Tim Davies, Peter Parr

John McIver, Thomas Zeininger, Ian Stafford

 

Many thanks to Martin Tománek (Czech Minigolf Federation, President) and his team who did a wonderful job organising this excellent event at a very difficult time.  No matter what problems we had, Martin sorted them out quickly and without a fuss, a big thank you from the British team!!