Saturday, May 25, 2013

Two Miniature Golf Firsts

Visiting and playing the first two Miniature Golf courses in the world!

On the long and winding road that is the Crazy World of Minigolf Tour Emily and I have so far visited 528 Minigolf courses and played 317 of them. There have been a wide-range of designs, obstacles, layouts and hazards. Some of the courses were new, some were temporary and others had been established a long time.

Two of the courses we have played lay claim to being the first of their type in the world!

The third Minigolf course we ever visited on what was to become the Crazy World of Minigolf Tour was the Southsea Golf Links in Hampshire, England which according to the British Pitch & Putt Association opened in 1914 and was the first course in England, if not the World, to be purpose built for use by members of the public!

Richard pitching on hole 2 at the Southsea Golf Links
Pitching on hole 2 at the Southsea Golf Links

The 292nd and 293rd courses we played were at St Andrews in Scotland where we played The Himalayas Putting Courses, home to the St Andrews Ladies' Putting Club, and the world's first Minigolf course as it was first laid out in 1867!

Emily Putting at the 18th hole at The Himalayas in St Andrews
Emily Putting at the 18th hole at The Himalayas in St Andrews

Other courses and locations we've played at with a fair bit of history include Splash Point Mini Golf in Worthing where there has been Minigolf played on the site of the new course since the 1920's and the roof of Selfridges Department Store on Oxford Street in London which last year re-opened for the first time since the 1930's.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

A London Bar Billiards Pub Crawl

Report from a journey to five London pubs to play the classic game of Bar Billiards.

On Saturday 18th of May Kevin ‘Booze N Cues’ Moseley led an increasingly merry band of semi-pro Minigolfers on a tour of five pubs to play the fine pub sport of Bar Billiards.

Travelling in from Bath, Newcastle, Luton, Manchester and other parts of London the intrepid group of amateur Bar Billiarders met at Cutty Sark DLR and headed for the first port of call – the Pelton Arms.

Bar Billiards in London
Kevin 'Booze N Cues' Moseley outside the first stop of the day

The original plan for the day was going to see a pair’s tournament held across the five pubs, but on the day itself it was decided to aim to play three games in each venue with teams drawn at random. This was a great approach as some players had played before, while others hadn't.

Bar Billiards in London
The barmy Bar Billiardists

Lining up at the ‘do’ were:
Brad "Flying Fists" Shepherd
John "Wipe-out" Moore
Kevin "Booze N Cues" Moseley
Oliver "Late Starter" Florence
Seth "Das Nugget" Thomas*
Emily "Trick Shot" Gottfried
Richard "The Black Peg" Gottfried
* nickname later changed to "Trafalgar"

Unable to attend this time around, but with nicknames decided were:
Trevor "Le Champignon Noir" Robertson
Martin "Middlesex Fats" Robertson

Ahead of the day out Booze N Cues had emailed, tweeted and called each of the pubs to ensure the Bar Billiards tables were in working order. The fine chaps at the Bar Billiards Online Forum and the All England Bar Billiards' Association have put together some great lists of where you can find a table (there are about 600 in total in the UK and Channel Islands).

The thoroughly mapped out and timetabled route around London saw us travel around 20 miles by DLR, Train, Tube, Bus and foot. Perhaps next time we’ll schedule in a trip on a ferry too.

The table at the Pelton Arms had recently been serviced and was good to go.

The Pelton Arms was a great pub, was doing a brisk trade and served some large portions of pub grub by the looks of it! But we weren’t interested in eating; our appetite was for Bar Billiards!

Things got off to a shaky start as one of the balls was lodged in the machine. But after getting the man he opened the table up and the ball was released ready for us to play.

The most striking thing about the table was that instead of just having one red ball and seven white balls, the table had seven reds and a lone white! This was very confusing to begin with as it’s normally the red ball that counts double, but at the Pelton Arms it was the white that was the doubler!

Bar Billiards in London
An odd coloured combination of Bar Billiards balls!?

Bar Billiards in London
Richard 'The Black Peg' Gottfried is confused by the number of red balls at the Pelton Arms

In matches from the Pelton Arms:
Richard & Kevin defeated John & Seth 770 to 680 after scoring 200 with the final (white double) ball
Brad & Emily bested Kevin & Seth 720 to 300

From the Pelton Arms we caught a bus to Deptford and the Dog & Bell pub. Located in a housing estate the Dog & Bell was a brilliant boozer, had excellent customer service (some of the best I’ve ever received in a pub) and a great Bar Billiards table.

Heading to the Dog & Bell pub in Deptford
Heading to the Dog & Bell pub in Deptford

Plenty of space was given to the Bar Billiards area (and the eighty year old table) and the spacious public house was a nice spot to spend some time in. Definitely a pub to revisit.

Bar Billiards in London
Booze N Cues in action at the Dog & Bell

In results from the Dog & Bell:
John & Kevin lost to Emily & Seth 0 to 170 after Kevin wiped-out a score of 900 on a very unnecessary shot at the 200-hole!
Richard & John lost to Seth & Kevin 370 to 1,680 with Seth sinking the last white in the 100-hole
Emily & Brad lost to Richard & Seth 0 to 480 after wiping out their score of 150 points

Bar Billiards in London
Brad 'The Flying Fist' Shepherd entertains the crowd

Bar Billiards in London
The Flying Fist shows orf his new titfer while Trick Shot lines up some sort of trick shot

We then headed (by way of a charity shop where Brad got two VHS tapes for 10p in a BOGOF offer) back to Cutty Sark and on to Stratford to catch a bus to the King William the Fourth in Leyton; quite a journey.

Bar Billiards in London
Booze N Cues schools his rivals in potting at the King William the Fourth

At the King William the Fourth the table is free to play if a charity donation is made. We happily paid, grabbed the cues and got cracking on the matches.

The scores on the doors from the King William the Fourth were:
Brad & Richard lost to Kevin & Seth 1,500 to 1,960 in one of the day’s best matches
Emily & Seth lost to John & Kevin 1,140 to 1,290 in the other of the day’s better matches

The table at the King William the Fourth was the best example that we found during the day and played really well.

Next up was a trip to Hackney and the Pembury Tavern. This bustling pub was fairly packed and as soon as we walked in some other customers started playing the Bar Billiards table! This was a first for many of us and so while we waited to play we had a nice sit down and ordered some food and a few more drinks.

With only time for one match at the Pembury Tavern the result was a win for John against Richard in a ‘breakaway’ tournament.

Bar Billiards in London
The Black Peg plays Wipe-out as latecomer Oliver Florence looks on

By the time we reached the King Charles I near Kings Cross the scoring had gone a bit out of the window, so it was a good job we weren't playing a full tournament.

However, results for the first two games were scored and counted and saw Oliver ‘Late Starter’ Florence playing for the first time in the day, having met us at the Pembury Tavern.

Scores from the King Charles I:
Ollie & Seth lost to Brad & John 210 to 570
John & Seth lost to Ollie & Brad 560 to 850
The results of the match between Brad & Richard and Seth & Kevin are lost in the ether...

Brad, Emily and I have played the King Charles I table a number of times, so were prepared for the adverse camber the table offers. It’s also the only table we’ve seen with red baize.

Bar Billiards in London
The merry bunch at the King Charles I

The King Charles I was the end of the line for Bar Billiards but the adventure continued for Brad and Seth as they headed to a Eurovision Song Contest Karaoke House Party on the Caledonian Road. Everyone else headed home. That is except for Kevin who stayed on at the pub to teach some locals the rules of the game, and where he also witnessed a couple getting engaged in a very peculiar fashion!

The best total team score of the day was 1,960 by Kevin & John at the King William IV
The worst total team score of the day (not including zeros from wipe-outs) was shot by Emily& Seth at the Dog & Bell
The highest break of the day was 1,360 set by Kevin at the King William IV
The player with the most wins across the day was Kevin with four victories
The player with the most losses across the day was Seth with five defeats
Seth played in eight games, the highest number of appearances of the group (John also played eight games, including the rebellious breakaway match at the Pembury Tavern)
Ollie only played two full matches

At each of the pubs we visited and played at it was great to see our fellow patrons taking an interest in us playing the game. While we were playing/scoring/reffing a fair few people were asking us about the game, its history and how you play it. I’m not sure we showed them the highest quality play, but I hope we inspired some other people to pop a pound in a table and give it a go.

We’re now looking ahead to another London area Bar Billiards Pub Crawl. If anyone has suggestions for places to go do let me know via the comments below.

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Pub Links:
The King Charles I - no website or twitter, but here's a blog post about a previous visit

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Minigolf at Letoonia Golf Resort, Belek, Turkey

An unplayed Miniature Golf course in Turkey.

It appears the 'Minigolf spotting but being unable to play the course' bug/curse is spreading!

My brother Christopher's girlfriend Nina 'The Queen of Crazy Golf' Dukes was recently on holiday in Turkey and spotted a Miniature Golf course at the resort she and her friends were staying at. Unfortunately they were unable to play the course as there was no-one serving in the hut.

Nina explains "The day we were there we couldn't see anyone around to supply us with putters and balls!"

The unplayed Miniature Golf course at the Letoonia Golf Resort in the town of Belek in Turkey (pic by Nina Dukes)

Despite the Crazy Golf course being in the grounds of the hotel and Golf resort Nina added "This was the only golf related activity we saw!"

It does look like an interesting Minigolf course layout and it was a shame Nina didn't manage to get a game in. It would've been nice to see what the scorecard looked like and whether Nina would've won the contest (like she did against Christopher in Great Yarmouth!).

Turkey is a member nation of the world governing body for Minigolf, the World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF). Within Turkey Minigolf Sport is governed by Uluslararasi Minigolf & Tuna Minigolf.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

What a Day, Week and Month!

Happy National Miniature Golf Day to all (and there's a bunch of other stuff to celebrate today)!

May the 11th, and indeed this week and next, plus the month of May is packed full of celebratory day's to mark everything from Minigolf to Doughnuts.

Check out the latest blog post from our friends over at Putterfingers about today's Day, plus yesterday's Windmill Day. The British Minigolf Association is also holding the annual BMGA British Championships tournament at Wroxham Barns, Norfolk this weekend (it teed-off this morning). Follow the live results here and if it takes your fancy you can join the BMGA for free here.

And if you're playing at a Miniature Golf (or Crazy Golf or Adventure Golf) course then send a review over to the team at The Putting Penguin and MiniatureGolfer.com! There's a lot of Minigolf history to read up on over at the Crazy Golf Museum too.

As well as being National Miniature Golf Day, it's also World Fair Trade Day today. I found this out while out for a wander in Stopsley, Luton this afternoon when I found the Fair Deal World Shop located in Stopsley Village. 

And don't forget, according to Punchbowl today is also Eat What You Want Day (mmmm, so far I've had a Choco-Knobbly Crispy Rice Bites Gluten Free bar, an Egg in a Bap, some scorchingly hot Awfully Posh Pork Cracklings and home-made Popcorn (with more grub to scoff later).  It's also Twilight Zone Day (great as I love the show and movie) and National Train Day (brilliant, while not a spotter I can tell a Class 316 DMU from an HST).

This week is National Pet Week (interesting as we're Dog Sitting) and May is National Hamburger Month (yum), National Strawberry Month (we bought some today) and National Bike Month (handy that as I'm selling a Mountain Bike at the moment, let me know if you're interested). 

I heard from The Dull Men's Club that it's also National Doughnut Week at the moment. 

From the 13th to the 19th of May is Gut Awareness WeekCoeliac UK's annual week of activity to raise awareness of Coeliac Disease (of which I am afflicted!). For more info and advice on getting a diagnosis check out the Gut Feeling Awareness Week 2013 website

I'm sure my friend and fan of "Day's" Oliver 'The Machine' Florence is having a field day with all the activity! He let me know it is National Mills Weekend this weekend too.

All the best for today, whatever you are celebrating. Have a good one.

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By the way, if anyone knows what 2013 is the year of then do let me know...