T-Minus Eight weeks…

Happy Sunday wherever you are reading this!

There are now eight weeks until we all move across the globe from our minigolf homes to the Zaton Holiday Resort in Nin Croatia! (www.zaton.hr)

The Social Media Crew of Simon, Alberto and myself have had a flurry of correspondence this week with Pasi and Evgeny from the WMF, and we are confident that you will be fully informed of all that is happening on the lanes, and sometimes, off them!

If you haven’t already done so, please ‘like’ the Facebook page –www.facebook.com/minigolfsport and follow us on Twitter@WorldMinigolf and Instagram worldminigolf

We’ll be ramping up the competition excitement through these pages, and you don’t want to miss out!

This week I caught up with Greg Newport, Captain of Team USA. Some of you may be aware that Greg is the 4th ever sanctioned perfect 18 in Putt-Putt history at the Professional Putters Association’s (PPA) Virginia Open. What an achievement!

I asked Greg about his start in minigolf and what he considered to be his proudest  achievements so far…

I started playing minigolf in local tournaments at courses in the Charlotte, North Carolina area where I grew up back in 1984. The reason I started was because I wanted to do something that I could beat my brother, who was the athlete of the family. I had a lot of fun, so when I found out there were other tournaments around, I started travelling to tournaments around the US in 1989.
I played in USPMGA tournaments starting in 2006. My proudest moments would have to be when I won the USPMGA US Open in 2007, winning the USPMGA Masters National Championship in 2009, firing a perfect 18 on a minigolf course similar to felt just last year as well as winning the bronze medal in the senior division of the WAGM.”

I then asked what disappointments Greg has felt, and what he took away from these:- 

“I’ve been very fortunate that in my career I haven’t had many disappointments, but the ones I’ve had just made me want to practice harder and make sure I set my mind on the prize I want.”

We moved to tournaments and what the calendar looks like for Greg, as well as his thoughts on the WAGM in Croatia.

“Generally I play in about 30 events a year here in the US, while last year’s WAGM in Kosovo was the first international tournament for me.
My expectations this year is to try to medal. Last year was our first international experience on a wonderful course in Kosovo, so with a year under our belts we want to challenge for a medal.
All teams will be tough, especially Germany and Sweden, but I think we have a shot to medal. We have some players without international experience, but all of our players have competed routinely against the best in the US, and now we will be competing against the best the world has to offer. Jon (Jon Drexler, team coach) has acquired some equipment to help us get prepared for this year’s event, and I think we will be ready.”

As at the WAGM last year, the team are sponsored by Chromax, so I asked Greg if they were going with a one ball strategy:-

“My plan is to use a Chromax ball on most every hole. As was the case last year, I’m sure there will probably be a couple holes where a European ball will be needed, such as the water jump hole where a dead bounce is needed. I certainly want to thank Chromax for sponsoring this year’s team, without their help this would not be possible.”

I was delighted to see that the team includes a woman – Paula Gay, and I’m hoping to get some thoughts from Paula as the lone woman in the squad!

“Paula Gay is a great addition to the team. She is an outstanding player and a better person. She is not the first woman to represent the US, as Astra Stanwyck played for the US in the World Championships back, I believe, in 2005.”

I asked Greg who he thought were the players to watch at the WAGM:-

As far as players to watch, internationally I think Daniel Vlcek from the Czech Republic is on top of the list. I watched him play in Kosovo last year, and I was really impressed with his preparation and execution. It seemed like nothing got to him at all, and he finished runner-up in last year’s WAGM. One to watch for the US I think is Rick Culverhouse, he is on the team for the first time, but his preparation is second to none. He’s a great player here in the States, and he will be on his game in Croatia.”

Greg added:-

“I want to give thanks to Bob Detweiler and the USPMGA for sponsoring the team as well as Chromax. I also want to thank Jon Drexler for all the work he puts in to make this possible. He is so committed to making it easy for the team to play, and does a lot behind the scenes. I am honored and humbled to be selected as the captain of Team USA, and we will do our best as well as enjoy the time we spend in Croatia.”

I want to make sure everyone knows who Greg is, and can give him a hearty ‘hello’ when you meet him in Croatia, so here’s a photo of him:-
Greg Newport by Lisa Johnson.JPG
Photo by Lisa Johnson

Thanks to Greg for his time, and I look forward to bringing you another profile next week, but until then, may your putts be solid and your aces plentiful!

Marion
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