Birdies and bogeys - Mini golf

Don't bother trying to get your golfing fix while on holiday because as far as Neil Tappin is concerned, it'll end in tears

by Neil Tappin

Before setting off on holiday last week I was genuinely looking forward to taking a break from the game. Having competed in numerous, high pressure events over the previous two weeks, my golf had become ragged - my backswing was short and fast and I was beginning to strike the ball worryingly close to the hosel. With the J Arthurs looming depressingly on the horizon I had no qualms in doing a runner. So I headed off to the south of France not only confident that I wouldn?t miss playing golf but that I would also benefit from a much needed hiatus.

Four hours after taking off from Stansted and approximately three minutes after arriving at our beachside apartment my attention became drawn to a huge, flashing neon sign that lit up the road outside. Like an incessant subliminal message, the words ?mini golf? began to infect my mind. The next day as I lay, supposedly relaxing on the beach, I began to yearn for the chance to hit a little white ball through a windmill.

On day three of my ?relaxing beach holiday? I succumbed to the torment and dragged my girlfriend, Aileen, along to the Canet mini golf centre. Without much previous golfing experience under her belt, I figured that Aileen was an easy target and I was confident of a crushing victory. Indeed, things went nicely to plan at first as my deft touch allowed me to establish a 17 shot lead with three to play (this didn?t include any of the 35 penalty shots incurred by my un-caring opponent). However, in this novelty form of the game, things can change in a flash.

The 16th at the Canet mini golf centre is a hole of two halves. Firstly you need to find the middle of three holes ? it?s extremely well protected by some nearby ridges ? before going through a winding tunnel where the ball finally emerges allowing you to putt towards your final target. Having fluked a three at the hole before, Aileen had the honour and unfazed by the fourball of dungaree-wearing French teenagers that had taken 25 minutes to complete the 16th, she hit the middle hole with her first attempt and made an impressive two.

I however had let the wait unnerve me. My rhythm had ebbed away with my patience and I fell foul of this unbelievably tricky layout. Nineteen angry swipes later and I was in the hole. The scores were tied.

In the end I gritted out an unimpressive one-shot victory by holing a nerve-jangling four footer at the last. Aileen may have lost the contest but I was the one left questioning my ability. For the rest of the holiday I pondered how the match could possibly have been so close - I came to the following conclusion: serious golfers should never play mini golf. It?s ridiculous.

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