Playing Mini Golf In The UK
Minigolf sport is very similar to adventure golf and crazy golf - games enjoyed each year by many thousands of day-trippers to Britain's coastal resorts. The essential difference is that it is played on courses that are designed to reward accurate putting. Tournament-approved minigolf courses feature challenging obstacles to negotiate, a smooth felt or concrete putting surface and a continuous raised perimeter border to allow calculated rebound shots to be played.
Minigolf has for many years been popular as a leisure activity, but is now also growing in popularity as a competitive sport. The World Minigolf sport Federation (WMF) represents national minigolf associations of over 30 countries; and is a member of the overarching international sports Federation, AGFIS. The WMF organise world championships in alternate years, with the 2005 World Minigolf Championships set to be held in Steyr, Austria. Major international competitions take place on specially-designed tournament courses. The world record score is four consecutive perfect rounds of 18.
In recent years, American style adventure golf courses have grown in popularity. Most of these courses are visually impressive but, too often, the designers have overlooked the importance of playability. Playability is the key when it comes to generating high levels of repeat custom; and should also ensure that the course will appeal to both children and golf enthusiasts alike. For information I attach a copy of the BMGA's course design recommendations.
In the US and throughout mainland Europe, minigolf has for many years been classed as a competitive sport. Players compete in televised international tournaments for prize money of up to $100,000. The World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF) organises World and European Championships in alternate years.
The top semi-pro minigolf players select a different minigolf ball with which to play each hole - each ball boasts slightly different properties in terms of bounce, weight and hardness. The record single-round score is a perfect 18 - an ace at every hole!
The highlight of the UK minigolf calendar is the British Open International Minigolf Tournament. Players from across the country compete against overseas pros for a share of the £1000 prize fund and the prestigious British Open title.
How do I get started?
The British Minigolf Association can provide details of affiliated clubs and courses throughout the country; as well as dates of forthcoming tournaments, which beginners are welcome to enter.
BMGA course design recommendations
- A tournament-approved minigolf course should feature 18 clearly marked off holes or runs. The holes should be numbered and be of a uniform appearance.
- Every hole on the course should be carefully designed so that accurate putting is rewarded. Runs where luck is the main factor in achieving a hole-in-one will not be approved. (If in doubt about the design of any particular hole, you are advised to consult with the BMGA before proceeding.)
- The playing area of each hole must be at least 0.8m wide and no less than 5.5 metres long. Playing surfaces that are designed to be horizontal must be horizontal (90cm spirit level).
- The boundary of each hole must be marked by a raised barrier. This should be high enough to minimise the risk of the ball leaving the playing area. The border should be smooth and continuous (galvanised steel or smooth concrete are preferable to bricks, so as to allow calculated rebound shots).
- Every hole must have teeing-off markings. These should be consistent on every hole.
- The target hole itself should be accessible from the teeing-off point in one putting stroke. The diameter of the hole must not exceed 100mm. It should be deep enough to prevent a holed ball from bouncing out again. The top of the cup must not intrude above the playing surface.
- On at least some of the holes, the path to the cup should not be direct, but should involve the ball rebounding one or more times off obstacles or the raised border.
- Obstacles must be functional in construction and design. They must be fixed for the purposes of play. No moveable parts (over or through which the ball is supposed to pass) are allowed. Every object must be different from the others on the same course, not only outwardly but also from a playing point of view. The effect of any obstacles must be calculable.
- If obstacles are to be included on a particular run, they should be an integral part of that hole. A hole-in-one must be achievable by playing through the obstacle. There can be more than one path to the hole. A well-designed hole might give players the option of a risky direct route to the hole, and a way of playing safe and settling for a score of 2 or 3.
- There should be enough space at the end of each hole to allow one playing group to wait there, should the need arise, without interfering with the game of the party behind them. Paths around each hole should be wide enough, and constructed in such a way, as to allow wheelchair access.
- There should be a flat area of at least 20cm immediately inside the raised border of each green. This will allow for a ball that comes to rest up against the raised border to be repositioned so as to allow the player a proper back-swing.
- Care should be taken in planning the order of holes on a course. It is better not to include particularly difficult holes at the start of the course; or to position the hardest holes immediately one after the other. This should help avoid queues building up.
Further information can be obtained by visiting their website: bmga.online
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