In 2012, we had decided to move to Hastings. Although I had never been, I had read and heard great things. It sounded right up my street and so we thought we’d give it a go. Before our move we had excitedly perused the internet, finding out as much as we could about what was going to be our new home and the thing that got me the most excited was not Pirate Day (although I was pretty chuffed about that), nor was it Jack in the Green. It was in fact Crazy Golf, and the fact that each year, Hastings is host to the World Championships that anyone… yes ANYONE can enter! So, October 2014, I did just that. I was a complete novice (and still am!) and was incredibly nervous the night before the competition started but I have to say that it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had. Partly because of all the lovely people I met, many of whom take it very seriously. My first day was spent playing with Steve Lovell who was quite practised and so very kind and helpful. After the event I asked him a few questions:
What on earth made you take up Crazy Golf in the first place and when was this?
It goes back to February 2013 and I had a few drinks in Brighton. On the train back to Lancing, I was checking the internet and saw the British Masters were being played in Worthing in April. It sounded like a plan and I thought I would enter the following morning. When I woke up, I found I had already entered it on the way home! I used to play regular golf so thought it would be fun. As it turned out, mini golf was one of the best decisions or ideas I have ever had. The people were great and getting paired with the UK number one (Michael Smith) really helped as you could see the level of skill you needed.
Do have any other slightly odd hobbies?
In terms of odd hobbies, I am prepared to give anything a go so nothing is really out of bounds. I’ve always wanted to get to the end of my life and say ‘I did a lot, didn’t I’. Having recently changed my job, I now have more time to dedicate to some fun. I am hoping to take part in the World Conker Championships in Oundle, Northants, come October. In short, if it looks like fun, I’ll give it a go.
When did you partake in your first world championship? And were you well practised by then?
My first World Championships was 2013 where I finished joint 38th. The event will forever be remembered as playing in the hurricane St Jude. It was only my third event and I had been practising at my local course in Worthing. I arrived the day before and got about four hours in, getting to know the course. You can learn this sport and it is different to regular golf as the flag stays in the same place, so I was happy when I scored a 34 in practise.
How many crazy golf tournaments/competitions do you tend to do each year?
I take part in most of them, if not all of them. I used to find it difficult as in my previous life, I was an entertainer so work got in the way. There are normally ten to twelve events a year and some other little fun get togethers. Living in the south east, it made it easier as the competitions were in Sussex and Kent. I look forward to them as it is like meeting your friends again, with the added battle on the green thrown in.
What’s the furthest you’ve travelled to compete?
Currently, the furthest I have travelled is to Nottingham for the English Open at the beginning of October. I stayed with a friend in Leicester and got him involved as well. In future, I would like to take part in some European events and have been speaking to a German friend of mine about an indoor event in Monza for 2016. I think the furthest north this year is Birmingham but in previous years, the tour has visited Scotland and Northern Ireland.
I was very very nervous when I turned up to compete but you soon put me at ease and within minutes I was absolutely loving it, so thanks for that. Do the organisers always tend to put newbies with the more experienced players?
Not a problem, I can understand that it can feel very intimidating when you start so the best that an experienced player can do is try and make it as easy as possible for you. Tatana Krepsova (the Czech woman in our group) has a great deal of experience and finished 12th in 2013. For the first few rounds on a one day event or day one of a weekender, novices will always go out with players who at least know the rules and have played before. I seem to remember you getting a hole in one at the first so that would have helped you immediately. My heart still beats a little faster about five minutes before tee off. It’s a great buzz.
Do you get much practise in, in-between competitions?
I used to get a lot of practise when I lived in Sussex as the nearest course was just down the road. Right now, as I have moved to Ramsey in Cambridgeshire, there is nothing local but I will try and have a day out somewhere once a month. I occasionally putt on the carpet at home, it is a little thicker than the turf we putt on but at least keeps a rhythm going. If I’m honest, I carry my golf balls and putter around in the car just in case I see a course. It’s almost impossible to drive past one.
I can’t seem to bring myself to practise when it’s a bit chilly, do you have more stamina than that?
Being Britain, we practise and play in any weather. Apart from snow, I’ve played in it all. I find it better when the weather is worse, it keeps other people away and sometimes, you can have the course to yourself, which is very handy as the British Mini Golf Association do a day rate for £10 for members. As long as I am wrapped up warm and appropriate to the weather, nothing would really stop me from going.
What was your final position in the 2014 World Champs? Were you pleased with that? and what’s your highest position to date?
So what do you make of Hastings? Where do you tend to stay and what do you get up to when you’re not on the ‘golf course’?
Hastings is a great place to stay and always seems quite vibrant for a resort, even out of season. I managed to book a room at the Old Town House Hotel for the British Open, which was fantastic. I stayed at the Best Western for the World Crazies, the room was huge although a bit noisy opposite. I always look forward to visiting Hastings as it is amongst the best facilities in the country and one of the few places where we get spectators to watch us play. I think we have three, maybe four tournaments in 2015. Let’s hope the wind isn’t blowing that hard.
What’s the day job?
I retired from my previous business of self employed entertainer after eighteen very successful years but I just got bored of the lifestyle. I now work for my cousin in Cambridgeshire in agriculture as a soil sampler. I wander farm area and pick up soil for analysis, which in the long term, will hopefully produce better crops and cheaper crops. It’s a beautiful area with friendly people and a more relaxed pace of life, I can see myself settling well here.