Saturday, June 18, 2011

Minigolf Diary - 5 Days on International Minigolf Duty - WMF Nations Cup 2011 - Stockholm, Sweden

A week in the life of a Great Britain International Minigolfer

A.k.a. You don’t have to be Crazy to be a Pro Minigolfer, but it helps!

From the 8th to the 12th June 2011 Luton Minigolfer and Great Britain International Richard Gottfried was on international duty with seven fellow BMGA Tour players and two Swedish Coaches. This is his dairy of the events from Tuesday 7th June to Monday 13th June 2011.

- Buy a brand new pair of Reebok Classics. I choose a pair that are “not too bling” according to the lady in Sports Direct!
- Pick up our Swedish Currency. It makes you look very rich having so many notes
- During the day – pack and prepare last few bits and bobs to take on the trip to Sweden. A very nice letter from Her Majesty The Queen arrives at Squire Towers wishing the team all the very best at the tournament, and the rest of the season!
- 8.14pm – Receive a last-minute email from the GB ‘Team Manager’ Marc ‘The Force’ Chapman with details of stuff to bring and stuff to print. We are also informed who our team Coaches are!
- 8.31pm – Email from GB team mate Sean ‘Freebird’ Homer who has got plenty of printouts already done for all
- It’s decided that upon landing in Sweden and arrival in Stockholm a Recce of the Tantogårdens BGK course will be done, followed by a team meal

- 8am – Wake-up
- A year ago today Emily and I set off on a nine-day holiday to Las Vegas, USA, that cost us less than a five-day trip to Sweden to play minigolf for Great Britain!
- Set-off for Heathrow Terminal 5. Surprisingly the journey to the junction for long-stay parking takes only takes 30 minutes! The M25 obviously having a good day (that’s a ‘win’)
- The directions taken from the parking company’s website from the junction of the M25 to the actual site of the parking are very misleading, and we take an un-scenic detour
- 10.45am – Arrive at T5
- Check baggage, spot a Carluccio’s (mmm Gluten Free food), head through security and find there is no Carluccio’s on that side
- Have a wander around
- Buy Dave Gorman’s new book ‘Dave Gorman vs. The Rest Of The World’
- Text GB team mate Michael ‘Hole In One Kenobi’ Smith to see if he’s arrived, he has
- Buy a Starbuck’s Gluten Free Chicken & Pesto sanger and a Chocolate Brownie
- 12.30pm – meet-up with Michael and Marc, who are sat by EAT having played a one-sided game of twitter hide-and-seek (Marc won – that’s a ‘win’)
- Marc is excited as they are sat near the England Under-17 Football team! Having chatted with them they are off to Mexico for a month for the U-17 World Cup! Using the power of the internet Marc finds out they won the U-17 European Championships last year, I tell them Marc was 66th in the 2010 Minigolf European Championships. Marc follows Raheem Sterling on twitter
- 1pm – Both Emily and two of the players decline to have their pictures taken with each other. We all wish each other well in our future sporting endeavours and head off to board
- 1.30pm – Board plane – I do an ‘Obama-wave’ nobody sees it
- Get hit on the head by the drunk Swedish passenger sitting down behind me
- 1.45pm(ish) – The Captain (not Richard ‘Michael Skaggs’ Skeggs) informs us the take off is delayed due to weather!
- The view back along the runway is quite a sight, with seven flights stacked up behind us
- Marc tries to whisper something to me across the cabin, I cannot hear. He says it a little louder and I understand, though we get some odd looks from fellow passengers!
- The chief stewardess makes a very nice announcement telling our fellow passengers that the Great Britain Minigolf Sport Team are on board, and she wishes us well for the WMF Nations Cup! A nice touch indeed. That’s a ‘win’. We get a round of applause!
- 2pm(ish) – Take-off. WMF Nations Cup – here we come!
- No Gluten Free food on board the British Airways flight, so everyone else (apart from a few poor vegetarians who miss out on the meagre offering of Veggie Sangers) tucks into a baguette while I don’t. This is puzzling as the BA website doesn’t allow you to make a dietary selection for the flight!? I mention this to the Steward, who says he’ll ask and have a look. I never see him again!
- I do get a kids quiz book from a passing stewardess after I cheekily ask for a colouring book like the kid on the next aisle has – a ‘win’
- 5.45pm (local time) – Land at sunny Arlanda Airport
- 6pm – bags all arrive safely too – a ‘win’
- Meet up with the rest of the team (Sean, Marion ‘Double Trouble’ Homer, Tony ‘TK Maxx’ Kelly and Michael) who flew in on the SAS flight at the very same time. Scott ‘Donkey Gringo’ Lancley arrived at 2pm
- Taxi to Clarion Hotel with Emily ‘Coach’ Gottfried, Sean and Marion – only cost 490SEK, not the quoted (by Marc) 1000SEK! A ‘win’. Told a few Peter Jones minigolf stories (everyone has one) to pass the time on the journey to Södermalm island, our home for the next four days. We also discuss my new trainers
- 7pm – Check-in. Gluten Free breakfast options are available, I’m happy. There’s a Subway eatery next door, Sean is happy. Two ‘away wins’
- Picked up a map ready for our walk to the course
- Head to room, hastily unpack, head back down to Reception to meet Sean and Marion for an amble to the course
- 7.25pm – Amble begins
- 7.27pm – Get lost next to the hotel, a worrying sign points to ‘Swimming’ or ‘Dying’ as the two routes to take!?
- 7.29pm – Back on the right route. A ‘win’
- Discussion of fellow Minigolfer Brad ‘The Fist’ Shepherd’s new Punk Rock alter-ego – ‘Artie Buming’!
- 8pm(ish) – arrive at the Tantogårdens BGK course at the Tantolunden Park in Stockholm – a ‘win’
- Meet the Swedish National Team Coach Jan Strandberg who welcomes us to Sweden and the course
- The four of us decide to play the Beton course to contest the second ever Tampere Reunion Classic title (one that I’ve held since the first event in 2009 at Wroxham Barns). To qualify you had to have played in the Great Britain Team at the 2008 WMF Nations Cup in Tampere, Finland
- The Beton course at Tantogårdens is the 250th course played on me and Emily’s Crazy World of Minigolf Tour! Interestingly the 50th course we played on our Tour was in Tampere, Finland, and that was Beton too!
- Mid-round the rest of the team meet us at the course and have a few praccy shots too
- Sean wins the Tampere Reunion Classic II with a round of 38(-2), me and Marion/Mation tie for second on 49(+13), with Emily ‘third’ on the Podium with a score of 52(+16)
- After-9pm leave the course (as they want to shut for the night)
- 10pm – Have an amble along one of the main streets looking for somewhere to eat
- Find a Pasta place – Celine’s – that have a blackboard advertising Gluten Free pasta. The team head inside for huge portions of Pasta, Cannelloni and Lasagne – a ‘win’
- 11pm – Walk back to the Clarion Hotel, full of food, and excitement for the next few days
- 11.30pm – head to the 7-11 and find two rude sounding chocolate bars – Plopp and Kex – buy both

- 6.10am (5.10am UK time!) – Wake-up
- Down to breakfast, peruse the Gluten Free options, have three boiled eggs (all white shelled) and a banana
- 7.40am – Taxi to course
- 7.50am – arrive at course, and meet team Coaches Björn Dinau and Eirik Seljelid (from the Kungälvs Bangolf Klubb) who are on the Eternite course playing a few shots
- 8am – Sean and Marion arrive following their amble to the course, they decide to get Taxi’s there in future
- 8am-6pm – Official Team Training – Yes, ten hours training!
- Key highlights from the intensive day of training
o I get hit in the nuts with an Allan Schwab Ball of Fame during training on Hole 4 of Beton. My ‘Great Britain 2’ team mates find this hilarious (even Emily, who threw it). Needless to say, I do not.
o Scott starts humming the music from The Running Man every time stuff goes wrong on the Eternite course (the 251st played on the Crazy World of Minigolf Tour), a discussion of the film ensues. Tony, Emily and Eirik get bored
o We discuss Balls of Fame (Eirik is entitled to create two after two BIG Minigolf victories in his career to date); we ponder when Tony will get one? We then use the Torgny Kjellstrom Ball of Fame on a few practice holes, Tony claims he doesn’t need a Ball of Fame as ‘Tony Kelly’ is spelled ‘Torgny Kjellstrom’ in Swedish!
o In the heat of the Stockholm day, the Festival-style Portaloo toilets get very stinky, so much so that no-one wants to spend too long practicing on Beton Hole 1! I discover from Björn the Swedish for ‘Bangers & Mash’ is ‘Korv med mos’
o 1pm – Lunch – have a wander around the local shops, spot a product called Baconnaise. Buy a big bag of Tyrell’s crisps. Former travel writer Tony tells me about his time spent living in The Sudan and why you don’t eat with your left hand there. Spot a Texas Longhorn restaurant, we’ve heard they can do Gluten Free food
o 2pm – Back to practice
o Discussion of Björn’s balls, fnarr fnarr
o We lend a Karsten Hein Ball of Fame to the Swedish Team for one of the holes!
o Eirik tells us the name of a Ball Sucker Picker Upper Thing is a ‘Suck Prop’ in Swedish
o 4.30pm – 5.45pm – Competitive round amongst the GB2 team on Beton – I score 39, Emily 41, Tony 37 and Scott does well with a 35(-1)
- 6pm – head back to hotel to get ready for the Opening Ceremony back at the course at 7.30pm
- 7.30pm – WMF Nations Cup Opening Ceremony at the course. Meet Hans Bergström for the first time. Have a quick chat with Dr Gerhard Zimmerman from the WMF (my Crazy Air Squash nemesis)
- Nothing Gluten Free at the Buffet
- Photo-call of players from each country. Marc represents GB. Holland are called up to hold their flag, but find it’s actually the flag of the Russian Federation
- Team and individual photos taken
- I give Björn and Eirik each a gift of a Union Flag/George Cross badge as Honorary Brits for the event
- I take pics of both courses for the Ham & Egger Files blog, and Tim ‘Ace Man’ Davies’ site
- 9.30pm – Emily and I head to the Texas Longhorn restaurant for dinner. I have a ‘Big Ass’ Steak – 32oz and a Swedish Cider called Briska – very tasty indeed. Although I do get a bit of steak juice on my fresh new GB Kit! Have a chat with our waiter who tells us the minigolf course/club at Tantogårdens used to be on the other side of ‘the mountain’. He’s also too busy to come and watch the tournament on Saturday or Sunday
- 11pm(ish) – Walk back to hotel

- 6.15am – Wake-up time
- 7am – Breakfast – 3 eggs, one had a feather on it!? No fruit today
- 7.40am – Taxi to the course – interestingly each taxi driver has taken a different route to the course!? The taxis in Stockholm also seem to have a lot of cracked windscreens!
- 8am-6pm – Official Team Training – Yes, another ten hours training!
- Key highlights from the intensive day of training
o Warm-up
o 8.40am – An 18-hole practice round on Beton, followed by a short-break and then an 18-hole round on Eternite – I score 32, Emily 36, Tony 37 and Scott 38 on Beton. With a 32 for me on Eternite and 37 for Emily, 32 for Tony and 33 for Scott
o Around Hole 13 on the Beton course there is an ‘interesting incident’ with the Bricklaying team and a Russian athlete that wouldn’t have been out of place in an episode of On The Buses!
o During the morning break Mation exclaims that the Portaloos have been emptied (a ‘win’) though using far more impolite language than that!!!
o Mation gets stang off of some nettles, but is OK to continue playing
o Amongst the many many many double entendres between the team (notably me and ‘The Man of Question’ Tony) we discuss the idea of a Family Fortunes tournament!
o The GB2 Team decide to vote in a Captain for the team as no-one has been assigned the role. An anonymous vote takes place and I am voted in. My first duty is to install Scott Lancley as my Vice-Captain
o Lunch – Me, Emily and Scott take Michael to the nearest supermarket to stock up on supplies. I then head back to the Deli I spotted on Thursday to purchase a jar of Baconnaise! It costs 670SEK (about £6.70!) so I hope it’s worth it. I also buy Tony a bar of Plopp Salt Liquorice Chocolate as he’d mentioned he was a big fan of liquorice and Sweden was renowned for the stuff. He scoffs the whole bar, although he admits this is unwise due to some of the side-effects/properties of liquorice! I decline a chunk of his Plopp and have a bottle of water for lunch instead.
o 2pm – Back to practice
o Mation finds a lost child using the Net Hole on the Eternite course as a slide, the German coach and the course staff try to find out the kids name, his mum then runs across the park and we find out he’s an Aussie. I tell the course staff that I should have attempted to speak to him as “Australian is my second language”. They believe me!?
o 3.40pm – Another Eternite practice round. I score a new all-time minigolf PB of 26(-10), Emily gets a 37, Tony 33 and Scott a 35. Tony and I chat to a producer for a Swedish Radio Station which has a weekly show in English. He says if he’d have known we were there he would have interviewed us! We’ll get in touch before the return trip in August. The radio guy tells us that week’s show is about’ Park Crime’ – and the Tantolunden Park is renowned for it ‘after dark’!
o 5pm – Despite a decision to ‘not’ have another practice round and end training at 5.30pm, the team believes it would be best it use the time left before the competition starts to have another round – so GB2 completes its third practice round on Beton. I score a 35, Emily a 36, Tony a 44 and Scott a 35. No time left for another go on Eternite, so we head into the tourney having played the course twice in praccy!
o 6pm – A good job we stuck around for another round as the draw for the tournament is posted, I’m out at 8.42am with Fredrik Persson (SWE) and Mike Mann (SUI), Tony is super excited as he’s drawn to play in a group with World Minigolf Champ Jonas Gustavsson (SWE)
- 6.43pm – Leave the course
- 8pm – Taxi to Hans Olofsson’s Flat (that cost over a Million – Krona) for a Team BBQ
- Our taxi driver (a Diego Maradonna look-a-like) gets lost! We yet again get a map out to show him which way to go. We then get stuck in a one-way street as a guy unloads his shopping of Melons and Toilet Roll (seriously, that’s all he had!?)
- Björn and Eirik had already been to a government sponsored alcohol shop and had bought a great selection of beers and ciders. Luckily, amongst the meat purchased there were some Gluten Free sausages, a ‘win’. Tasty too.
- We head up to the balcony to look at the views over the city. Björn takes the Hiss.
- Back to the Millionaire’s flat for Crisps and Sweets for Pudding. Emily and Mation take the Hiss back
- Around the dying embers of the BBQ the team tell tales of the legend of the Stockholm Giant!? All stemming from a Big Chair in Hans’ living room! Supposedly he’s help you on the minigolf course if you say his name three times!
- ?.??pm – back to the hotel in another taxi – this one is quicker. Fall asleep watching Reindeer Games on the telly. Find out ‘Jobbar’ means ‘Works’ in Swedish.

- Up early – too bleary eyed to tell the time
- Brekkie of 3 eggs (again) and straight to the taxi and on to the course
- 7.45am – Arrive at the course to see off the two starting players – Tony and Michael. Our team manager, player, captain, kit designer and number one fan Marc is AWOL/MIA. The rest of the team discuss reasons why he should be sacked ‘a la Ted McIver’ in Tampere
- 8.28am – Emily sets off on her round. Starting off on the Eternite course with her two Swedish playing partners
- 8.42am – I begin my tourney on the Eternite course with Fredrik and Mike
- Finish the Eternite with a 38(+2) a new PB but not great. Got a 7 on the flat loop, Fredrik gives me a tip for the next round
- Finish the Beton and I don’t even look at the scores, I think it’s a 46(+10). I later find out it’s actually a 41(+5) so not that bad really. A thought crosses my mind that I could finish last, and maybe it’d be best if I was the player that got stang off of a wasp and couldn’t continue. Emily consoles me and tells me to just have fun.
- Second round of Eternite and score a 29(-7) a new PB, at the 16th Hole Eirik tells me Emily has just scored a 24(-12) – WOW. The Nations Cup Blog posts a story “Emily surprises everybody”. Fredrik gets his ball to stop at the top of the Flat Loop, I challenge him to do it again, he says, will I buy him an ice cream if he manages it?
- Back to the Beton and Fredrik almost hits 7 aces in a row, so just misses out on the elusive ice cream
- Ulf, one of Emily’s playing partners shouts "Ass" instead of "Ace" when he gets a hole-in-one, this becomes the new Ace shout in their group
- No lunch break
- A discussion about wind conditions ensues around the tree at the 7th hole as Player #142 Gunter Inmann (AUS) let’s rip with an air cushion
- Fredrik Persson sets the new course record on Eternite with a Perfect round of 18! I buy him an ice cream
- 7.15pm – Head back to the hotel after six exhausting rounds of international minigolf
- 8.15pm – Taxi to Gamla Stan island with Sean and Marion – again the taxi driver is very confused!?
- Meet up with Björn, Eirik, Michael and Tony by an Italian restaurant
- Have an amble around town while we wait for Marc and Scott, visit some souvenir shops and Tony gets to see some historic buildings and the castle. We book into the Slinger Bulten Restaurang – which serves traditional Swedish food
- Lovely meal with great service and nice cider
- Marc gives his team manager’s speech (after he’d had 40 winks at the table, twice)
- I resign my Captaincy of GB2 and hand it over to Scott, and Tony as VC
- 12am – Bed

- 5.45am – Wake-up
- Watch a bit of a Hugh Grant film Did You Hear About The Morgans
- No brekkie, just a Plopp (choc bar) – pre-match nerves and too early to eat much, especially more eggs!
- 7.25am – arrive at the course
- 7.45am – Ominous dark clouds and the rumble of thunder – we all pray for no rain
- 8am – Shotgun start for all players – I’m on Eternite Hole 3 to start, meaning my 36-hole Beternite (Betonernite?) / Eterton (Etoncrete?) round will finish on Eternite Hole-2. Scott gets to play both courses from Hole 1-18
- 8.04am – Delayed start, Scott, Emily, Tony and I (and the Swiss Coach) play some imaginary Cricket on the Eternite course before we begin – according to Tony I’m “out” from the first delivery
- 8.20am – A bit of rain falls! It does not stop play, thankfully
- Much cooler weather conditions, I tell Hans Bergström and Jan Strandberg it’s much like a day in Luton
- 10.29am – I finish up my round for a total of 29 on Eternite and 33 on Beton for a combined 62, and a grand total of 275. I can’t wait to have another crack at these types of courses, especially Eternite. I present my two playing partners with a gift of a Union Flag/George Cross Badge each and wish them all the very best for the rest of the tournament
- 10.34am – Emily finishes her round and promptly retires from playing in International tournaments. Her catalogue of injuries, combined with a great showing and new PBs and the British Women’s Record on Eternite are a good place to leave at. Emily's eight round total is 290
- 10.40am(ish) – GB2’s last player Tony gets a 7 on his final hole – the Flat Loop. Our team finish 5th in the group and 10 of 10 overall. We have a team total of 1,119. Scott is well happy as he’s scored Par. I’m happy because I beat two foreign players (a Finn and a Russian – both women). Tony can’t wait to return to the course for the Worlds
- Björn earns a rest
- Watch the individual players play-off for top spot in the men’s tournament – Fredrik wins, I don’t buy him another ice cream
- The rest of the GB Team sign my Nations Cup Blog and Course Note Book as a memento of the trip – thank you to all of them
- GB1 win a point by tying with the Russian team in a round! The first point in Great Britain Minigolf History at the WMF Nations Cup!!!
- 12.30pm – Back at hotel to pack and then head out for a wander/amble
- Watch the end of a John Travolta film – From Paris With Love – what a violent and crazy film, I must watch it all when I get home
- Me and Emily have a wander around town, nothing is too far away, should we return we’d certainly take less taxis!
- Visit the Pant Bank!?
- Pasta at Celine Bistro again, very tasty
- 3.30pm – Back to the course to watch some of the action from the semi-finals, Marc, Tony and Michael are there too
- I give Scott a medal I have bought for ‘Sista pris’, which according to Björn means second from last/third place for being third in our team. The text on the packet says “For nit och redlighet i allmanhetens tjanst”, which Google tells me means “For zeal and probity in the public's service”!?
- Me and Scott buy some minigolf balls from Sweden’s Coach Jan Strandberg, we both get a BIG Red One, but there is only one Tantogården BGK Special Anniversary Ball left, I let Scott have it, but he says we can share it when we play at The Green Indoor Mini Golf
- 4.50pm – Walk back to the hotel to collect luggage, watch some ducks on the way back and see a boat called The Titanic!?
- 5.30pm – Taxi with the Homer’s to Arlanda Airport. I give Mation her medal for ‘Samst’ – finishing last in the tourney. Another medal for her international trophy cabinet
- 6pm(ish) – Arrive at the Airport
- Meet Tony and Scott wandering around, have a chat, Tony is trying to not buy lots of expensive gourmet Swedish food, he buys a Plopp for son Adam
- Tony tells us the Nations Cup Final hadn't started when he had left the course!
- Meet Marc and have a wander, he’s keen to inspect the prices of Muffins to make sure he’s not ‘had’
- I try to buy a Sverige T-Shirt and a chocolate bar in the Duty Free shop using just a 50SEK note, my brain obviously frazzled from the intensity of the last few days thought it was a 500SEK note!? Not that I’d had a 500SEK note in my possession at all. Do they even exist?
- Head through to the gate for our flight, have a quick chat with the rest of the team getting the SAS flight, Marc misses them as he’s getting a Muffin. Me and Scott decide to pair up for the 2011 BMGA British Doubles Championship
- I have a 450SEK Fruit Salad pot
- Marc gets interviewed by a guy doing an airport survey, me and Emily wonder if he mentioned the Muffins
- I buy another Sweden pin badge
- Board plane
- Sleep on the flight – Richard ‘Michael Skaggs’ Skeggs is not our pilot again
- No Gluten Free food again
- Land after a little delay
- At Arrivals, Scott, Michael and Anna Green welcome the team, or welcome Marc and their Putters to be precise
- The Buttons at Terminal 5 are closed for the night
- Head to M&S for some grub, Gluten Free sangers are reduced. A ‘win’
- 11.34pm – Just miss the last coach to long stay parking. Emily phones the man to come and collect us
- Arrive at car – it’s still there. A ‘win’
- Head for home
- Arrive home
- 1.45am – Bed

- Lay-in until 10am(ish) – bliss
- Baconnaise for breakfast
- Find out Sweden had won the 2011 WMF Nations Cup, with Sweden 2 runners-up and Austria in third place
- 10.30am-7pm – Do nothing much of note
- 7pm – Go to play Dodgeball in Luton! An 11-1 win. That’s a ‘win’

- While the GB team and players have improved their play at the WMF European-Standard Minigolf courses, so have many other nations, how many years will it be before we’ll be finishing 4th of 5 in our groups?
- Taxis and their drivers – it seems to be the norm in Stockholm that Taxis have cracked windscreens, Sat-Navs that don’t work, drivers who need passengers to provide maps, or as one driver told us he’d only been driving five weeks (we’re not sure if he meant taxis, or just in general!?)
- Films – there are some interesting choices of films shown quite early in the day! It was quite bizarre to turn on the Travolta film From Paris With Love and see the ‘dinner-scene’ in the early afternoon. Family Guy is also shown quite early in the day in Sweden
- I didn’t see another person wearing a pair of Reebok Classics on the whole trip! How odd.

Other Links:
- Results of the WMF Nations Cup 2011
- Website of the WMF Nations Cup and WMF World Minigolf Championships 2011
- Gottfried's WMF Nations Cup 2011 Minigolf Report
- Michael 'HIOK' Smith's WMF Nations Cup Report
- UrbanCrazy - The Great Britain Minigolf Sport Team Kit Sponsors
- Tantogårdens BGK - Host course and club of the WMF Nations Cup 2011
- The World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF)
- The British Minigolf Association (BMGA)

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