Mini Golfers Compete in Pro Open
LIANE HANSEN, host:
The mega-money men of the PGA tournament are hardly the only avid duffers on the links this weekend. Golf on a more modest scale commanded attention last evening at the New York City championship open mini golf tournament. However you play the game, don't call mini golf `putt-putt,' says the vice president of the US ProMiniGolf Association. Gary Shiff was at the tournament on Pier 25 in New York City. He's on the phone.
Thanks for joining us.
Mr. GARY SHIFF (Vice President, US ProMiniGolf Association): Thank you for having me.
HANSEN: How was the competition last night? Who won?
Mr. SHIFF: It was very good. It was won by Kevin Lacey from Cincinnati, Ohio. He was quite dominant after the first round, shooting--after a 36, he shot a 28, 30 and 31.
HANSEN: And how many competitors were there?
Mr. SHIFF: Between amateurs and pros we had a total of 72 players.
HANSEN: Now are we talking big money here in the mini golf tournament world?
Mr. SHIFF: No, no. I mean, obviously, we don't have any kind of television contract or mega-mega sponsors. I mean, we'll have some sponsors at various events. But you're looking in a tournament at total cash prizes that can range anywhere from $500 to $20,000. And this one was one on the low side. It had a total cash prize that ended up being $1,100 in total cash.
HANSEN: So describe the golf course at Pier 25.
Mr. SHIFF: Pier 25's a smaller-sized course. It has a lot of undulations and dips and turns with bricks kind of going around the perimeter of each of the holes to try to keep the ball from out of bounds. But, you know, you hit the ball a little aggressively sometimes and it might bounce out of bounds--take a penalty.
HANSEN: Now are there hazards--you know, like those mini golf places at the shore--the clown's mouth or the spokes of a water wheel?
Mr. SHIFF: Well, really, these days very few miniature golf courses are being built with windmills and clown's mouths and really gimmickry, wacky things. More courses these days are built more like--to look like and emulate real golf courses with natural-looking--well, it's a green carpet, but it's natural-looking, with hills and doglegs, and you might have either a real sand trap or at least a white carpet that makes it looks like sand traps, and it might be a little tough to hit out of because they're bumpier if you get your ball in there. And you can get some water hazards, as well--maybe a little stream that you have to jump over--jump the ball over--or a little dip that's filled with water that you have to avoid getting your ball in there and taking a penalty.
HANSEN: Are there custom clubs and balls and bags and the whole gear?
Mr. SHIFF: Yeah. It depends on how serious the player is. I mean, many players will use just your regular putter and golf ball. That's usually what I prefer to use, but sometimes I like to use a European putter. Europeans have their own game that's a bit maybe more scientific, where they use different kinds of balls and clubs that have a different putting surface on the putter head, and I'm starting to use that type of a putter these days. I just like the feel of it, and more comfortable for my style of game.
HANSEN: Do you still keep score with a little card and a tiny pencil?
Mr. SHIFF: That you still do, yes.
Mr. SHIFF: Oh, yeah.
HANSEN: When's the next big tournament?
Mr. SHIFF: Let's see. Well, actually, we're going to Austria for the world championships. There are 30 nations that will be sending players to Austria to a little town called Steyr. And we have the world championships every two years put together by the World Minigolf Sport Federation.
HANSEN: And when is that?
Mr. SHIFF: Oh, well, the actual competition is August 24th through the 27th, but the players arrive the 17th--somewhere between the 17th and 19th to get practice in on the course.
HANSEN: Gary Shiff is vice president of the US ProMiniGolf Association. He spoke with us from his home in New York.
Thanks a lot, Gary.
Mr. SHIFF: Thank you for having us.
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