On our recent Spring Break, your Sports Editors and four other RCs traveled to Florida for some good times in the sun. On three of the days, however, serious cloud cover and strong winds removed the possibility of beach activities. We filled two of these days by visits to the cinema etc, but on the third day, we were ready for something different. Somebody suggested mini-golf, and the suggestion was warmly received. A ‘whole day of fun’ was about to begin. By the end, I would truly understand the infantile pleasure of mini-golf.
The first, and most obvious, asset of mini-golf is that it is a fun test of your luck and coordination. Our course, while less mechanized and fancy than some premier mini-golf courses, had enough bunkers, ramps, obstacles and curves to provide a challenging circuit. Mini-golf is a great leveler, as there is only a slight advantage to being highly gifted at sports. For example, Jason Phillips (NC), clearly the most coordinated of our group, did win, but only by a one stroke margin from yours truly.
Conversely, gifted Turkish amateur Yusuf Capar (NJ) started brilliantly, but some bad luck on the back nine that saw him slump to 4th place by the end of the competition.
These last sentences allude to the next benefit of mini-golf. It can be taken as seriously or as comically as you like. Our group played a three-on-three format, with three pitchers of beers to be bought by the threesome with the worst aggregate score. The ‘Hingham Street Boys’ -(Joseph Tesvic (NC), Jason Phillips (NC), Doug Lord (NJ))- triumphed over ‘Two Poms and a Turk’- (Jamil Khan (NJ), Michael Wharfe (NC), Yusuf Kapar (NJ)) – by 11 strokes (129-140). However, this is not the point. Keeping score is an adult pursuit. What went with the game is the true infantile pleasure. Most notable is the trash talk that went on before, during and after holes. Examples include chicken noises (‘buk-buk-buk-bukakke!’), reverse psychology (‘you’ve been playing so well, it would be a shame to miss here’) and the ubiquitous Mum jokes (‘unprintable’). Along with this, there is always the opportunity for fisticuffs, although this did not eventuate on this occasion. By the end of the round, you feel like a boy again, and have rid your system of puerile urges, at least for a little while.
The final joy of mini-golf is the ‘feelgood’ factor that it provides. There is something special about a day outdoors, the fresh air, and the family setting. It seemed as if everyone on the course was enjoying themselves, but no one more so than the parents with young children experiencing the joys of mini-golf for the first time. Those children will remember the day fondly, and one day grow into trash-talking graduate students who will return to the mini-golf course with their friends, and perhaps later with their own children. And so the cycle continues – go there, feel good, wait a few years, go there again, feel good again.