COLUMBIA — The neon yellow, hot pink, and lavender purple balls could not be commanded to do their masters' bidding.
Despite the shouts of "no" and "stay," golf balls seemed to travel along their own paths across the green miniature golf course at Perche Creek Golf Course on Sunday morning. When they wanted to cool off, the balls veered into the artificial blue water. Others wanted to take a vacation and play in the sand bunkers near the holes. Sometimes, the golf balls decided to vacation abroad and leave the course entirely.
Three friends from St. Louis took all the balls' desires in good humor during the Show-Me State Games Miniature Golf Tournament. James Alfermann, Matt Pearson and Joe Hammond decided to join the tournament after their softball team was eliminated Saturday.
"We've played in the Show-Me State Games for softball for about 11 years now," Hammond said. "Thought (miniature golf) was an easy way to get a medal."
A medal wasn't the only reward the three were playing for. The loser of the three had to buy a round of sodas after the game. Alfermann won that privilege.
The group continued their lively trip around the 18 holes, making it to about the tenth hole before some miniature golf veterans from their softball team showed up to compete as well.
The new group was similar to the one already on the course but with more experience. Mike Zimmerman, Jon Harrison, Mark "Sharky" Felton, and John Fitzgibbons had their own reasons to enjoy an energetic trip around the miniature golf course. After coming to play in the miniature golf tournament four years ago, Harrison and Fitzgibbons have been bringing their softball teammates along ever since.
"It's become a tradition," Harrison said. "About half the (softball) team shows up now. It just gets better each year."
Hole 17 was the dreaded event of the morning. Felton had the most dramatic miss of the day when he fell to his hands and knees after he hit his golf ball into the water.
The second group from the softball team also had its own side wager. After his golf ball landed in the water and off the course entirely, Zimmerman won the right to buy the others lunch.
Supervising editor is Zachary Matson.