The technique and psychological focus the athletes can produce under extraordinary physical pressure is simply mind boggling, to a point where they almost seem to form one single entity with their putter. The legacy of the game's greats will be sung for generations to come, as the courageous martyrs that they are rightfully deserve.
History of the sport
The sport was discovered in 1719, when 26 year old Ezekiel Smith ran for 4 hours in hot pursuit of a rat who had stolen his golden watch, swinging a wooden plank with increasing rage. After the vermin finally gave up, totally out of breath, Mr. Smith struck the rodent with his apparatus: the rat ricocheted 3 times on the cowshed walls to finally land right in an empty bean can. An exasperated Mr. Smith saw that a swallow was about to pick up his newly liberated watch and scared it away by screaming: "Biiiirrrdie!" From this noble event, a virtuous sport was born.
As the sport evolved over time, adopting new rules, going through trial and error process after trial and error process, it became increasingly difficult. As a result, the stakes grew exponentially higher, causing the athletes to have to train for longer periods of time for each event. The standard for the minimum amount of time to physically prepare oneself for the Mini-golf world cup grew almost overnight in 1949. It exploded from two years to eight.
The sport has come a long way since pioneer Smith, who was canonized by the pope himself in 1976, stumbled on his rat. The equipment is now as technologically advanced as the Space Shuttle since the clubs are made of Xenon, a lightweight element found only in the depths of volcanoes. Of course, the athletes are fitted with sturdy shoulder-pads and a full face helmet for protection, since numerous contusions and bone fractures are regularly sustained on the mini-golf course by those modern day gladiators.
In the balls department, the equipment has evolved tremendously: normal balls, rain balls, wind balls, lead balls for rocky terrain, spiked or chain balls for icy conditions. For longer courses, the balls are now fitted with an integrated GPS system for easier tracking. Also, since the introduction of fluorescent golf balls, the marathon-like matches can now continue at night in the event of a tie-break. It is indeed a frequent occurrence that spectators will watch a match, go to bed and then come back the next morning only to find the same competitors on the course trying to finally break that equal score.
- The athletes' balls must rebound at least 3 times on the edges of the infamous hole #18, the Undies from Hell.
- It is strictly prohibited for a participant to part with his club, therefore relieving his arm muscles from the strain the weight produces.
- If a contestant passes out from shear exhaustion, referees are required to verify his vital signs and then leave him alone. If he's still unconscious after 2 minutes, he's scraped off the course and the match is awarded to his opponent.
- In the event of a tie (highly probable), a game of Rock, paper, scissors shall be conducted, with one official representing one opponent, and another representing the other.
The 1998 incident
While the totality of the OMG members are great sportsmen, it is totally understandable that due to the intense nature of the sport, some skirmishes will inevitably occur on the course, which is why 7 referees are assigned to a game. One has to look no further than the well publicized case of Liger Foods and Shill Fickleson in 1998, when the two started swinging their putters wildly in an effort to make contact with each other's skull between the 17th and 18th hole in a heated tournament where $8.75 million were at stake. The contest was broadcasted live in 396 countries with an estimated audience consisting of 13 billion spectators. The public quickly forgave the likable Foods for the incident, as did the jury when he was acquitted of first degree murder. Having recently washed his club from Fickleson's brain matter, he was welcomed back with open arms by flocks of die-hard supporters.
As with all other extremely demanding sports, some athletes have been caught red-handed. It seems some athletes are particularly fond of "The Clear", an explosive mix of caffeine, ephedrine, adrenalin, insulin, heroin, cocaine and Ritalin. A recent incident involving the drug saw a player causing his ball to explode by the lone power of his concentration. Others have seen players being thrown into convulsions on the course.
The highest profile case of doping was, of course, in 1998 during the hole-in-one race, which was a race between Clark McQwire and Manny Mosa to see which would break the record of the most hole-in-ones. It was later revealed that Clark McQwire, the winner of the hole-in-one race, was actually on "The Clear" during most of the games played during the hole-in-one race.
A day in the life of a mini-golfer
On non-competition days, your average OMG athlete wakes up at 4:30am and goes for a 2 hour run in the hills. He comes back to have a breakfast made of egg yolks, whole bread and engine fluid, then goes on the practice green for 4 hours in a row, bringing with him a cardiac defibrilator in case something goes wrong. If he's still alive after this session, he then proceeds with strength training. A popular exercise is the deadlift, since it involves the lower back muscles, which are solicited to accomplish the gruesome movement consisting in retrieving the golf ball in the hole.
Throughout his whole daily routine, the professional mini-golfer must compose with the effects of his glory: hoards of children running behind him in the morning, people trying to tear off his clothes to keep a lasting souvenir from their encounter with their hero, groupies who will do anything to get sexual favors from him, almost raping the mini-golfer, etc.
“You got to know how to keep your club in your pants and your balls in your boxers.”
In a nutshell
The mini-golf multi-billion dollar business is now one of the most respected, celebrated, cherished and world renowned sports of all time. Watching mini-golf was voted favorite pass-time in two-thousand nine, ten and eleven in 45 different countries around the world, including China, America, Canada and Africa, to name a few. And was recently made the national sport of Russia. The appeal for mini-golf has grown from year to year, and will hopefully be played for centuries to come.