Friday, 13 March 2015

Fake flowers and Lady Crazy Golfers

Fake flowers and lady crazy golfers are made for each other, says Sam Taylor

Written by Sam Taylor
Every Tuesday afternoon the Hastings and St Leonards Ladies Miniature Golf Club meet for a spirited round – in the winter months they meet for coffee to discuss tactics for the season ahead. They are the envy of the rest of the miniature or ‘crazy’ golf community – the course at Hastings is the venue for the World Crazy Golf Championship. With its 18 holes and hazards including a windmill and water-spouting pirate ship, it works hard to keep its ranking. It’s also a place where women players thrive. The ladies club celebrates its 90th birthday this year, quite a feat and one of which they are justly proud.

The courses (they are three ‘links’) are a triumph not just of technical expertise but also of all-weather gardening design. Yes, the lawn is fake, but also the rockeries and lush plants, which can withstand a sea storm without losing their heads while the international community looks on.

Two years ago the hotly contested WCG Championships trophy went to a woman for the first time – 18-year-old Olivia Prokopova who beat a mainly male field. Apparently she practises for 12 hours a day (how is that even possible?) and took unofficial leave from her studies (known in the game as ‘bunked off ’) to travel around Europe preparing for her big day in Hastings against the backdrop of freshly scrubbed flowerbeds.

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It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to discover that women excel at the ‘short form game’; it was actually invented for them. In the 19th century, the prospect of a woman manoeuvring a golf club above her shoulders, or even her elbows, was seen as distinctly unladylike. Nobody wanted to see a woman taking a swing at a ball and risk moving her bosoms around in public, so in 1867, the members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews adapted an 18-hole putting course and invented miniature golf, thereby allowing their wives to play while maintaining their decorum.

That first course, known as the Himalayas, was rather staid (this was St Andrews) and featured no everlasting primrose displays or PVC pampas grasses. Today, the average miniature golf course is about half an acre, considerably bigger than the average garden, but that’s not to say that some of its time-saving attributes couldn’t be transplanted. So, why not pop some fake flowers in the beds and run off to join the crazy golf ladies instead?

Next week: Prince Albert


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