With climate change near the top of the political agenda, we all know how bad it is to keep your cars air conditioning on full. There are plenty of other ways to create a frosty atmosphere in your automobile – intense minigolf competition is just one.

October 15th was already a notable rendezvous in the BMGA calendar with the now annual TWIT shoot out due to take place under Hastings’s floodlights and Ace Man taking time out from smoking and getting rid of nearly-out-of-date cones to roll over Kevin Botto in the first semi final of the inaugural matchplay championship. The filling in this minigolf sandwich was the 2nd Annual Sealand National Championships to be held over 36 holes on Hastings seafront. Indeed if this competition was a sandwich filling it would clearly be pastrami: spicy, intense and basically full of beef.

Prior to the off, plenty of mind games unfolded with Anthony proving to Pete that he could eat two McDonalds Breakfasts and an extra McMuffin (double sausage no less) while Pete showed tremendous dedication to the cause by going for a poo no less than three times. Was this nerves, a double bluff or simply a return of his IBS? We might never know. While he was away on one of these sorties, Ant took the opportunity to steal his loyalty coffee sticker from the side of his cup and stick it on his own card. 1 nil to Ant.

At the course, the phoney war continued with neither player showing their hand in the blustery, wet conditions as both players rattled off some mediocre rounds. After a cup of tea (and another visit to the loo by Peter) it was time to get the show on. With Peter the defending champion, the onus was on Ant to take the game to him. Armed with Andy Exalls Ex-putter, the question was would ‘The Gun’ fire or would it resemble the blunderbuss it has recently while in the possession of ‘His Excellency Mediocrity’

In what proved (probably) to be a mini golf first, Peter would be providing live updates from the course via the miracle of modern cellular phone technology. Scores would be beamed live up to a satellite where space monkeys would type it into the world-wide internet. Subsequently, IT chiefs would report that the web nearly crashed such was the surge in people following the match from their desks. Indeed, as many as 5 people were noted as being on the minaturegolfer forum during the course of the match. This live broadcast only served to reinforce the Sealander's tag as the #1 innovators in world minigolf.

First up the mini. Hole 2 and Ant blinks first. Pete slotted home for a two, Ant bends down to pick up his ball for a two only to see it roll around the cup. On the 6th, Pete moves two holes up and is cruising. Ant knows he needs to hold on and be in contention when they get onto the Crazy. Plenty of work to be done. The score fluctuates between Pete being 2 up and Ant reducing it to just 1 up when they come to the 18th. Classic thrust & counter thrust – Pete holes the Ace but Ant does too so it’s straight onto the Crazy with no time for small talk or, indeed, doughnuts from the kiosk.

The previous week, Ant annoyed Pete by shooting a 30 on this hallowed mini-golf (astro)turf. Such was the encouragement by my so-called ‘teammate’ that I heard a mumbled “you’ve got to be ******* kidding me” as I went something like 6 under after 8 holes. With this in mind, Peter was prepared for an attack from the rear. Living in the heart of Brighton’s gay village, he’s well versed in this sort of tactic.

Ant aces the 7th to bring the deficit down to just one. Pete turns on the gas and aces the 12th but so does Ant but then on the 15th Peter delivers another tidy Ace to give himself some breathing space. Then, on the 17th, Peter fails to slam the door shut as he takes a 3 so it’s all square going to the 18th.

Pete to play first and he takes the Ace Man line but overshoots giving himself a loooong second putt. However, he calmly puts it away with the minimum of fuss. How important will that shot turn out to be? Ant steps up, an Ace to win it. Will ‘The Gun’ deliver a precision shot in the middle of Emptons forehead or go off and take out some innocent bystander? Mini golf is considered to be a quiet sport apart from Ace Man’s animalistic ‘Grrrrrrrrrrr’ and The Squires somewhat dubious “ye ha, come on” but there are two sounds guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of all minigolf protagonists. The melodic ‘dong’ of a course ball hitting the water wheel or the reverberating ‘dong’ of hitting the underneath of the loop-da-loop. It was the latter sound that rang out across the course making Marion in the Hut look up from her crossword and wonder what these two daft idiots were still doing playing. So, another shot from the tee to send the game into a nail biting play off. Alas, it was not to be and Peter deservedly walks off with the title once again. Using it as a platform for later that evening, Peter swept to a dominant win in the TWIT as Andy Ex struggled to concentrate with the glamorous documentary maker while Ace Man again proved that he’s a spent force on the seafront.

The match threw up more questions than it did answers. Just who can stop Mr Empton at the worlds? Is about time Ant took those flame stickers off his shaft as seemingly only Andy could justify them? What is the next innovation that will spill out of the fertile minds of the Sealander’s and just how many calories will the Sealand ‘athletes’ manage to put away over the course of the WCGC’s. Those 10p doughnuts won’t eat themselves.....

Words: His Excellency


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