Our local mini-golf course is typically frequented by families with young kids enjoying a summer evening or young couples on an awkward first date. Scorecards are seldom seen and, really and truly, it is usually a mere excuse to go and devour two scoops of the best hard ice cream in town. However, when our group arrives and the competitive juices get flowing, the entire vibe changes. The SCHC Open is about to begin.
Upon arrival, we select and inspect our equipment. Rubber putters are carefully tested to ensure proper sizing and function. With laser precision and much second guessing, we reach for the multi-coloured ball that will give us the best chance at victory. As we stroll toward the first tee we jockey for position in our preferred grouping. At this point, chit chat and banter ramps up as each competitor tries to throw off his toughest competitors.
As play gets underway, we all try our best to avoid having to carry the score card as it is a burden that weighs heavy on the holder since collecting scores is often the source of much contention. The misfortune of an opponent’s ball going out of bounds or nestling impossibly behind a cleverly placed obstacle invites celebration and jeers that are surely heard around the course.
The grout between the bricks that line the course can send the ball careening wildly around the course. As such, no lead is safe. Hole in ones are scarce, but fives and sixes are plentiful as the course is as unforgiving as a PGA US Open. As we round to the back nine nerves come into play as we try and keep our cool to stay in contention. Despite our best efforts, the tension-filled final holes are ruthless and result in short putts missed and expletives muttered.
Once the last group has finished, we gather round to hear the results of the final tabulation. As the ice cream drips down the back of our arms, so too does the sweat bead off our foreheads in nervous anticipation of who will be named the day’s victor. Announcement of the champion is met with feigned scepticism as we half-jokingly demand a recount.
In the end, it is all good natured fun and, on the ride home, everyone’s minds are on what’s for dinner anyways. After all, the title will likely be short lived as the evening will undoubtedly provide the opportunity for redemption as water volleyball and ping pong matches offer yet another shot at glory.