Battle of Hastings: Crazy for Golf
Thursday, 28 February 2013

Crazy for Golf

Sam Taylor goes crazy for golf and meets the local Putter Nutters

Written by Sam Taylor
Mark Twain once complained that golf was ‘a good walk spoiled’. Quite what he would have made of ‘crazy golf’, history doesn’t relate. With its three distinct themes: Adventure, Pirate and classic Crazy, Hastings Adventure Golf Course is home to the annual World Crazy Golf Championships. Given that there are more than 600 other contenders spread across the country, the town burghers are understandably immensely proud of this claim.

Built by the Arnold Palmer group, the ‘links’ course occupies a large slice of the seafront and offers visitors the chance to work off some of the candyfloss and irresistible hot sugared doughnuts on sale at the neighbouring cafe.

There is a windmill; no mini-golf course is complete without a windmill. The Pirate Course boasts a talking 10ft skull, several water features, shot-defying ramps, and, the pièce de résistance, two wooden battleships; their canons firing water perilously close to the passing players.

‘Putter Nutters’, as they like to call themselves, prefer the Pirate Course. However, as the youthful kiosk attendant is at pains to point out, getting round the 18-hole themed booby traps is not for those of a nervous disposition.

George, the man with a van charged with taking away some of my unwanted rubbish, says that he likes to get a round in at least once a week. ‘But I like to play with my own putter,’ he told me. ‘Some of the other regulars even take their own balls.’

The surface is covered in felt, which absorbs the rain and allows devotees the chance to play in all weathers. Given the thankless task of mowing a lawn, I am sorely tempted to coat my rubble-strewn garden in a layer of this green wonder material.

George, who is tasked with clearing the rubble, says it’s not a bad idea. The low maintenance would allow me more time for, umm, playing mini golf.

He and his teammates prefer the winter months, with its lower visitor rates and more challenging conditions.

He says it gives him the chance to get out from under his wife’s feet and to give the dog a bit of an outing. He can tie her to one of the boundary posts and keep an eye on her while he plays a round.

George really feels that I should consider taking it up. You don’t have to be that good to play, he says. And as it only takes 50 minutes to go round, it’s perfect for women, apparently. ‘Like doing an aerobics class – but with a bit more action.’

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