Mini Golf World Championships 2015 (Helsinki)
Like many of their fellow country men and women, the idea of representing NZ has always been a long shot, but nevertheless, something they have dreamed of. Rugby, Netball or Cricket were always the main focus which is fair given you can earn while you play, Mini Golf was never an option - until now.
Below is an article written by Lucy Giesen outlining how the New Zealand mini golf team came to fruition and their journey to qualify for The Mini Golf World Championships. Even more exciting is a key member of Active International, Chris Morgan has been selected to represent the team.
MINIGOLF – Lucy Giesen
How on earth did this come about?! For me it was one day in Amsterdam when I met Ollie - the NZMGF President. The excitement in his voice as he described the Mini Golf World Champs in Finland was catchy. Immediately you pictured yourself nailing the hole in one and raising a high five to your partner. You instantly wanted in on this gig and before we knew it, Ollie had the' New Zealand Mini Golf Federation' approved by NZ Golf and The World Mini Golf Association. This had suddenly become legit. A year out, we had recruited 30 or so kiwi's who were also keen to step up to the plate and represent NZ.
As the year ticked over, people started dropping like flies, the reality of ACTUALLY competing seemed like a foreign concept and this crazy idea of playing had crept up on us like a blink of an eye. The names of 6 guys and 3 girls were suddenly in, the flags were being raised, the draw was released and no one has any idea where the time went, but soon little old New Zealand aka 'The Black Swings' were on the official list at the World Champs up against the reigning champions of Germany.
Upon arrival we have an opening ceremony with flag bearers and a parade through the streets of Lahti (just north of Helsinki). We have three days to practice on surfaces we have never seen or played on before - Felt and 'Miniature Golf' aka Fibre Cement. Yes it’s going to be quick. Each hole is designed for a hole in 1. Trigonometry I hear you say - yep that would help. Or will it?
As for the clubs and balls, we will need clubs which cater for being a 'lefty' or a 'righty' and of course for those hard to reach places (particularly as we can't stand on some of the course). What about the balls? Turns out the standard run of the mill golf balls aren't quite the ticket; there are specific ones for Mini Golf, the 'Pipe ball' or the 'Labyrinth ball' to name a few. There are different sizes, variations in hardness, weight, bounce and surface. Some balls are produced with lacquer of different types, and some balls are produced without lacquer (raw). The raw balls have the advantage that they have a much better grip when hitting the borders or when you play with spin. SPIN?! Yes apparently we need spin to nail a few holes in one's. Yikes.
But then there is the event. The Mini Golf World Champs, a massive deal in Europe. The high fives, the nerves, the fist pumps, the uniforms, the crowds, and the Mini Golf chat. We are yet to see this in the flesh but given some people have been playing this sport professionally for over 20 years; we have a lot to learn and a lot to take in (and maybe a lot to film).
If you ask me any international sport event is awesome. The fact that we get to experience it from an 'Athlete's' point of view is even more exciting. And also slightly nerve racking. We are up against twenty other countries with no experience under our belts. Some people have named us 'The Cool Running's of Mini Golf', so here's hoping there are no accidents (on or off the field) and we can 'bring home the bacon' (or a medal?!) If not - then who knows, it could be the start of many kiwi's dream to represent NZ. Because let's be honest – Mini Golf is a sport for all ages and this is just the beginning of an event no one in NZ knew existed...
In the meantime, we have a darn cool team, the idea has turned to reality and we are actually doing this, playing Mini Golf for New Zealand. Who would have thought? Not even I saw this coming.
For updates follow us on the New Zealand Mini Golf Federation Facebook page or no doubt I will be posting loads of stuff.
And by the way - it's definitely not a lucrative sport. We are by no means being paid to head to Finland. Despite our efforts to find sponsors, we ran into the whole 'too late' basket so everything is self-funded including uniforms.
But either way, we are kiwi's so we will make it fun, meet some classic characters and come back with a few stories.
The World Champs is every two years, so I guess the question is who will step up and play in the next round..?!
If you want to see more, here is a clip of the last Mini Golf World Champs
From all of Active International good luck Chris and the rest of the New Zealand Mini Golf team!