Mini golf offers a fun alternative to serious competition at Games

Sunday, July 27, 2008 | 9:08 p.m. CDT; updated 2:48 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 4, 2010

COLUMBIA — Putters sent colorful golf balls rolling through winding fairways, making their way across wooden bridges and over small hills. Pale blue water hazards and sand-colored bunkers stood in the way of a coveted hole-in-one.

But for both the young and old participating in the Show-Me State Games' miniature golf tournament, the competition was all in good fun.

Rick Matheny of Columbia said he enjoyed playing, especially after finishing 20-under par with a 52, a record for the 50 to 59-age division. He played with his wife, Terry Matheny, who shot a 71.

"Miniature golf is the one thing I've been able to get my wife to do," he said. "It's more something for fun that we can do together."

Matheny said he participated in the first Show-Me State Games when it started 24 years ago and has been in every one since then. He has played in a wide-array of sports, including track and field, basketball, tennis and soccer. Besides miniature golf this year, he also competed in bowling and golf events with his son.

"I enjoy the competition, so it was just automatic for me to enter every year," he said. "But about five years ago, I realized I hadn't entered anything that year. ... It wasn't my original intention to start a streak, but after almost 20 years of not missing one of these (Show-Me State Games), I thought, ‘I can't break the streak!'"

Since miniature golf doesn't require pre-registration, he entered the competition and has continued taking part in the event year after year.

Miniature golf took place over two weekends at Perche Creek Golf Club, with each weekend being its own competition.

Golfers were allowed to play their round anytime between noon and 9 p.m. Saturday, or between 9 a.m. and noon Sunday.

Miniature golf commissioner Jake Poe said because of the informality of the competition, a lot of the participants end up being walk-ups.

"We try to make it as inclusive as possible, because to my knowledge, it's the one event that would be open to an entire family participating," he said. "So that's why we leave it open for both days on both weekends."

Poe said the format works out well for family members who travel to watch their children, grandchildren or siblings compete in the games. Afterward, the whole family can play miniature golf together.

Stephanie Hayes traveled from St. James with her 12-year-old son Colin so he could participate in the soccer tournament for the Show-Me State Games. They didn't plan to play miniature golf initially, but Hayes just happened to stumble upon it.

"I didn't even know they offered it," she said. "I got online to check Colin's soccer bracket, and I just saw that they offered miniature golf as one of the sports. So I thought that would be fun.

"With him playing soccer, that's more of a serious sport. So this was a good way to wind down after that."

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