Well hello there, and thank you kindly for stopping by! If you’re one of the competitors, have you got your suitcase down from the attic yet? Have you decided what balls are travelling with you to Croatia? It’s not long now, time to make sure you have everything you need!
This week I managed to grab some time with Sean Homer, the Chairman of the British Minigolf Association, most internationally capped GB player, and captain of the nine man squad travelling to Croatia to represent Great Britain at the WAGM.
Thank you for talking to me Sean. I understand that you were involved in the creation of the WAGM – please tell me more about this.
The British Open on the BMGA tour has always attracted a strong field of International players over the years, delivering top class action and superb Minigolf on MOS courses. With the growth of adventure golf courses across the world and the interest they generate, the WMF were keen to look at developing a genuine World Championships for the growing format, distinct from the existing three system events (Felt, Eternit, Beton) that are held each season as part of the European and World event calendar. Having discussed the idea with Gerhard (Zimmerman) and Pasi (Aho) and with both having seen the British Open first hand in 2010, I agreed to take on the challenge of creating the first World Adventure Golf Masters (coined by yours truly!) mirroring the successful format I had developed for our Open.
The first WAGM took place at Hastings Pirate course in 2011 and the rest is history. I’m proud of the part I played in the creation and development of the WAGM and with the expanding host nations getting involved (Sweden, Kosovo and most recently Croatia) and the growth of Nations taking part, it has established itself as a key event in the WMF Calendar.
You are the Captain of the squad competing in Croatia – please talk to me about the selection of the squad, and a bit about including players making their international debut.
The WAGM has always been an event that our players are keen to play in due to the familiarity we have with the system (MOS) and this year sees our biggest squad taking part outside of the events previously held in the UK. The scheduling of the competition in September initially caused a few issues for us in terms of availability but the nine man squad we have taking part are a strong group and I am expecting a lot from the guys when we get to Croatia.
We have three players making their debuts for Great Britain this year – Andy Exall, Terry Exall and Matt Dodd. All three have been regulars on our domestic tour over a number of years and with the wealth of international experience we already have in the squad I am confident that the British Lions will make a big impact at the WAGM this year.
Once again the Great Britain team are being sponsored by UrbanCrazy and I’d like to thank Jon Angel and all the team at UC for their continued support. (www.urbancrazy.com)
What prep are you doing in the lead up to the event?
We’ve had a busy few months on the tour with our three major competitions taking place across the past couple of months. All of the players have been involved in highly competitive tournaments so we are all in good form going into the event. There’s a fair bit of preparation in advance, looking at training schedules and the nuts and bolts of getting the squad to the venue, but the WAGM course will be a new and unique challenge for our players so the real preparation for the event takes place once we arrive in Zaton and get to grips with the tournament course.
What got you into minigolf?
I came across the BMGA (British Minigolf Association) website by chance when working in project management back in 2005 (via an online Minigolf game that my colleagues and I used to play in the office). At the time the tour was quite limited but the event that caught my eye was the World Crazy Golf Championship – after all who can’t resist the lure of playing in a World Championship! I certainly didn’t expect what was just a chance to have a laugh with mates to turn into a 12 year obsession! I’ve been Chairman of our National Association for over a decade and spearheaded the development of British Minigolf but at heart I am still just a player who loves the sport.
You have consistently played to a high standard in GB for many years – what are your top three tips for success?
Firstly – Keep it simple. I like to minimise the number of balls I use when playing on MOS courses and believe there is a lot more sense in spending more time looking at lines and getting use to the pace of the greens rather than which ball to use. A bad shot is not the balls’ fault but it amazes me how often players seem to think that changing the ball they use will solve everything. I’ve won a couple of events on our tour by using just one ball (the legendary 3D produced KMGC Decade) so it seems to work for me.
Secondly – Practice effectively. Some players adhere to the adage “Practice Makes Perfect” but it’s not how much and how often you practice that matters. It’s how effective that practice is. Playing the same lane time and time again does nothing to replicate the conditions you face when playing in a tournament. I tend to think that the phrase “Practice makes permanent” is more relevant. After all if you practice the wrong line for example all you will be doing is perfecting how to play a lane badly! Don’t over practice and always ensure you relax and rest whenever you are training – no point being drained and exhausted for the competition when you have spent too long on the practice greens.
And finally – Believe in yourself. Mental toughness is vital when it comes to the sharp end of any competition. If you don’t think you can play a shot well, inevitably you will play it badly. It is all part of gaining experience. Focus on your own game and not those around you (with the notable exception of when you are playing matchplay when you are playing your opponent and not the course).
What do you consider your highest achievement as a player?
It’s an honour to captain the Great Britain team and I am always proud to lead out the team when we play Internationally. In terms of my highest achievement as a player that’s a hard one to call. Winning the British Matchplay Championship for the third time is up there and I will always remember my first win on the tour (the Kent Open in 2007). But my fondest memory is leading my club (the Kent Minigolf Club) to a record breaking fifth British Club Championship in what was a proud day for all of us at the KMGC.
I still think that I’ve got a Major win in the locker having been runner up a number of times so all being well my highest achievement is still to come!
Who are your ‘players to watch’ at the WAGM?
When you look through the list of players there are a few names that jump out given their records in major events – notably Martin Stöckle and Derice Shumilov Susoho who have both won the WAGM title as well as Daniel Vlcek and Torgny Kjellström who I would also expect to challenge for the main title. But I honestly think that with four tour winners in our squad, the 2017 WAGM will see Great Britain players fighting for honours over the two days.
What advice would you give to a player thinking about making the move from domestic to international play?
If you get the opportunity, give it a go. For our players in the UK, the WAGM is a great stepping stone to get International experience. Playing abroad is a unique opportunity and if you get the chance to represent your country against the best players from across the world you will remember it for ever.
Please share a ‘fun’ or ‘interesting’ fact with me about yourself
I have the unique honour of being the first player on the BMGA tour to have taken part in 100 strokeplay events (achieving the landmark at the World Crazy Golf Championship in 2016). Away from mingolf I am a keen motorcyclist and have a small collection classic (and not so classic) bikes. I live near Brands Hatch in Kent and hope to take at least one of my bikes for a spin around the famous track in the future.
Thank you Sean, it was great to catch up with you.
If you don’t know what Sean looks like, here’s a photo, and remember to say ‘hello’ when you see him next week!
Photo by Marion Homer
So I think this will be my last blog before I get to Croatia. I’m really looking forward to seeing you all, and along with Simon and Alberto bringing you all the action and news as it occurs.
Wishing you all safe travels, and see you soon!