British Minigolf Association

2014 Players Forum - information and notes from the meeting held in Birmingham on 25th January PDF Print E-mail
  

On Saturday 25 January, the day before the season opener at Star City, the 2014 Players Forum took place in Birmingham giving BMGA members a chance to discuss matters directly relating to our players.

 

Sean Homer, BMGA Chairman hosted the meeting which was attended by a number of our 2014 Tour Pros from each of the player categories: Michael Smith, Adam Kelly, Tony Kelly, Richard Gottfried and Chris Smith representing category 1 (C1), Chris Wood and Dave Donnelly representing category 2 (C2) and Marion Homer, Martin Greenhead, Mark Wood and Adrian Amey representing the views of Category 3 (C3) players. The feedback from those present, along with additional comments supplied by Andy Exall (C1), Scott Lancley (C1) and Dave Gomm (C2) was hugely beneficial and will help shape the way we move the tour forward through the coming seasons.

 

The meeting was structured into 3 key sections: a review of the 2013 Tour Calendar, the announcement of the 2014 calendar and then a debate on a number of key questions regarding people’s participation in BMGA tour events.

 

An overview of the meeting and discussions can be found in this bulletin.

 

Section 1) Review of 2013

 

The first part of the meeting concentrated on the 13 UK based events that the BMGA hosted last year. Feedback generally was very positive with players enjoying the experience of playing in a variety of courses and formats across the season. Specific comments on individual tournaments were as follows:

 

British Crazy Golf Open – worked well as a launch for the 2013 World Crazy Golf Championship (WCGC). Players getting the chance to get involved in the Crazy Crazy rules round was seen as a major plus point. Sean confirmed that the event was not scheduled for 2014 as at this stage the BMGA and Castle Golf have not finalised details for the 2014 WCGC. It was agreed that perhaps alternate venues could be looked at for future seasons.

 

British Championships – The event saw a disappointing turnout at Wroxham Barns. The physical location, along with accommodation / lack public transport seemed to be an issue with some players for not attending the event (although Sean did note that for players in the South East it was actually closer that Birmingham). A one day event at the venue was seen as perhaps a better fit. On a plus note however the Pro-Am on the Friday evening was deemed to be a great success for both the BMGA and the Barns.

 

World Adventure Golf Masters (WAGM) – this was a resounding success and was seen as a brilliant event for all who took part. The BMGA put on a great show and have set the bar for future countries taking on the WAGM (such as Sweden this season). Feedback from all players (both domestic and international) was very positive and the event was a highlight for many in the season. The WAGM is scheduled to return to the UK in 2015. However expect great things fro the 2014 British Open which will take a lot of the learning’s from the WAGM and last seasons Open to deliver one of the best (and biggest) events to date.

 

British Matchplay Championships – this was again a disappointing turnout and players expressed similar issues for not attending as for the British Championships. The planned pro-am that the BMGA agreed to support on the Saturday did not materialise, and despite some good individual performances and a lovely setting, the overall feeling was that the event was not as strong as the past few seasons.

 

British Open – the format (extended for 2013) along with the use of technology and the venue were all a great success and gave the Open a good point of difference from the other 2 day events on the calendar. The lack of international players was disappointing, partly due to clashes with an international team event in Portugal and the overall success of the WAGM but this did not detract from the overall feel that the event lived up to expectations as a Major. It was noted that the lack of a cut takes away some of the edge for day one but this was understandable given the lower numbers. If the event closes in on the 50 plus mark then the day 1 cut / qualifying score will be re-introduced for 2014.

 

World Crazy Golf Championship (WCGC) – the restricted available entry places (extended thru the season) proved a great way to build a strong field for the event. There were a lot of varied opinions regarding the course and the one-ball but these are covered in more detail in section 3. Despite the horrendous weather encountered it was very pleasing to see all players return for day 2 (something that we have never seen before) and overall the event was again a great highlight in the year.

 

British Club Championship – the final event of the year was again a success, although Sean stressed that we need to see all clubs present to really give this the focus is deserves. The film of the Club Championships by Pub Sport Portal was mentioned as a great piece of work and a nice way to highlight the championships. If you have not seen this then you can find this, and other minigolf related videos by Craig Rodhouse at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vp-i5ZU3YLo

 

Sean stated that the 2013 season saw the BMGA focus purely on the main events on the calendar (as highlighted at the AGM at the turn of the year), leaving the way for our clubs to hold their own open events. Unfortunately with the exception of Planet Hastings and Kent, none of the clubs hosted any events across the season. The 2014 calendar has been structured in the same manner and Sean stressed that the clubs need to ensure that 2014 sees the return of the Club Opens. The development of any club is really dependant on local events, driven by existing club members and this has proven to be a brilliant way of growing and improving the club scene. The BMGA has great links with courses across the country and Sean stated he is more than happy to help support the clubs in forging these links and this in turn will hopefully see a stronger club scene in 2014 and beyond.

 

Section 2) 2014 Calendar

 

Full details of this season’s calendar can be found at http://www.minigolf.org.uk/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=550:2014-tour-calendar&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=105&Itemid=60

 

Section 3) Player specific feedback

 

To help with the discussion, five questions were asked on the BMGA website in advance of the meeting and these provided the structure for the final part of the meeting.

 

What is it that makes you take part in a BMGA event? 

 

For each of the questions, these notes feature a selection of comments highlighted (apologies for any repetition but this hopefully shows the strength of feeling of those who feedback):

 

  • The challenge of the courses, especially trying new ones and getting better at others.
  • Meeting like minded people who enjoy the sport
  • The organisation and competitive element play a key part of wanting to play
  • Firstly, I enjoy playing the game, then secondly it's the camaraderie of the fellow minigolfers (especially KMGC) and thirdly I enjoy the actual competitiveness of the events.
  • The fun of the sport, club camaraderie, competitiveness, it's also relatively cheap ( a rarity these days) & last but not least - the supreme organisation of everything!
  • I love this sport and the way each competition is run and well organised. This is one of the reasons why I return each year to play in BMGA tournaments. Organisation and running of the tournaments is faultless.
  • we are very lucky in terms of the people we have as Pro tour players. We are a very good bunch and I always find it a pleasure turning up at a tournament and mixing with all my fellow players. I hope we can continue in recruiting participants that are as open minded and pleasant.
  • Being a big fish in a small pond
  • I’m a sport lover and it’s great being able to excel at a sport at a top level.

 

 

What can we do to make it more appealing for you to take part? 

 

  • I don’t think the BMGA could do much more.  We are pretty much spoon fed everything, which takes a lot of the stress out of playing.
  • The weather is a killer at times but not much can be done about it!
  • I have enjoyed every event organised by the BMGA, although I would just look at how the rankings are calculated and the points available per event (see later points).
  • I would like to see an annual British Crazy Golf Championship and British Adventure Golf Open. For me the three top courses we play are Hastings Crazy, Hastings Pirate and Strokes and would like to see an event on all three courses each year
  • Not sure if there's anything as an old hand, new players seem to enjoy things and most quickly buy minigolf equipment so I assume it's appealing for beginners too.
  • Maybe handicap events.
  • Clamp down on slow play!
  • The club scene needs to evolve, we (Kent) have a very large club and I am very proud to be a part of it. For a club championship to take place we need other clubs. Other clubs need to become more active both in organizing tournaments and recruiting.
  • I'd love to see a comp where no one has practiced days before....You all just have a couple of hours to learn the course and then play. It might not make much difference to the result in general but it might throw up some surprises. 
  • Greater recognition / incentives for Category 3 players taking part in the event.
  • Indoor events during the winter season.

 

One point that will be raised as a motion at the AGM will be the introduction of a new category – Cat 4 – for players in their debut season on the tour, with ring fenced prize money / medals in line with the existing Cat 2 & 3 players.

 

 

What if anything puts you off taking part in an event?

 

  • Timing – e.g. work commitments, clashes with family stuff – so it’s good to know dates well in advance
  • Cost and distance to travel are taken in to account but there aren’t that many tournaments really, it’s a good excuse to get out and about.
  • A lack of entrants, or an event at a poorly maintained course with few local facilities. The only minor disappointment last year would be the lack of entrants to the British Championships at Wroxham (nice course though)
  • I find it hard to travel due to family commitments so basically it's the distance.

 

What do you think of the rankings? Are they important to you?

 

  • I see rankings a way to track how relative progress is being made but is a by-product of playing rather than the main reason for taking part.  They do add an element of competition.
  • Sometimes the ranking points system throws up anomalies, especially in the lower ranked tournaments when the field may get blown apart with a great score of say 30 average and very few players get points. So either the points could stay as-is and we accept that happens now and then, or there could be tweaks,
  • Rankings are extremely important to me, as a measure of my relative ability and as a source of personal motivation.
  • I'm not sure that the SOR in it's current guise has any value
  • From a newbie point of view, If I'm not going to win an event then the earning of ranking points will part determine my enjoyment of that event
  • Finally, the rankings are also an important criteria for international team selection
  • Not playing in many ranking tournaments over the last few years has made me largely ignore the rankings & The SOR's as they are geared mainly for people that can attend as many events as possible, so they aren't very important to me.
  • I think so as you can aim for personal goals
  • As one of the old timers.... I'm very proud of my ranking as I know over the last 7 years I'm placed in the Order of Merit for My progress and long term improvement. Is it important to me..Yes
  • The Order of Merit is considerably better and fairer than it was a few years ago. But I believe it can be simplified and improved
  • Remove the Players Championship - the PC is a brilliant event but it should be removed from the rankings - that way, only strokeplay events where players play the exact same number of rounds count to the rankings (the exception being the final round of British Open and World Crazies.
  • Consider raising the minimum ranking points that a player receives for completing a tournament. At the moment, the minimum is 1 point. If we were to raise this, it might encourage more players to enter 'smaller' events. Is it really fair that someone who pays an entry fee and in most cases makes a weekend of it including travel costs and accommodation can get just 1 ranking point more than someone who doesn't play?
  • Simplify the system. Remove the formula for working out points and instead go by dividing numbers - for instance for Star City if there is 400 points available and the winner shoots 90 for the 400 points, as it's a 3 round tournament, anyone shooting 91 should get 367, 92 should get 333, 93 should get 300, 94 should get 267 and so on. For a 4 round tournament, it would be multiples of 25 and for a 6 round event, multiples of 16 or 17.
  • Simplify the system. Consider adopting the system of tennis rankings whereby each event carries either 1,000, 500 or 250 points. This way, majors could be 1,000 points, other BMGA events such as Star City and Masters 500, and the club opens 250.
  • SCRAP THE SOR - Again, the SOR were well intended but I don't think they are particularly useful. Plus, now that we have the Matchplay Order of Merit, you could argue that having three different ranking systems is too many.
  • Alternatively, if the SOR remain, consider small prize money or small prizes for the top places at the end of the year. Or make Category 1 ineligible for the SOR. Both these measures would give the SOR more meaning and interest.

 

The rankings are clearly a key factor for a lot of players and Sean nominated Mark Wood and Martin Greenhead to work alongside him in a bit to reflect the comments raised and formulate ranking proposals to be raised as motions at the AGM. With all categories involved we are confident we can produce a range of options to address the issues raised.

 

The Season Only Rankings (SOR) have been tweaked following the Star City Open with key areas getting multiplied dependant on your category status (see http://www.minigolf.org.uk/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=553:2014-sor&catid=34:rankings&Itemid=60 for details). The new calculations have seen a major change to the overall standings after just 1 event. Sean highlighted that one of the motions at the AGM will be to ring fence a small percentage of entry fees across the year to build a prize fund for the SOR’s with category leaders and leaders overall getting recognised at the season end.

 

 

What are your views on single ball events (such as the World Crazy Golf Championship and the Kent Open)?

 

  • For a new player it is tough entering a multi ball event the first time and seeing the big suitcases coming out!, eg we played at Worthing last year and it was hard to play with 1 or 2 balls, (perhaps a mental effect).  But with a good mix of 5 balls you can cover a lot of different holes/situations and a lot of the fun is trying out different balls (eg at the club championship). The single ball at the WCGC levels the field, but when the ball so light it does cause problems when there are extremes of weather.
  • I enjoy the single ball events as much as I do the multiball and strongly believe that there is a place for both. I enjoy the variety of events currently on the calendar. (you could possibly add a  single ball (player choice event such as at a BCGO?).
  • I am very much in favour of them. Perhaps an official BMGA ball that everyone could purchase would be a good move. A common BMGA ball could be the ball for beginner's, pro's etc for many tournaments including the WCGC's. (NB: Sean highlighted that in essence this is a great idea – having seen the benefits at the Kent Open directly - however these require a major financial investment and would require a significant change to entry fees for example to cover the cost – on average around £10 per ball).
  • I think these are good as it levels everyone and then they can only blame themselves and not equipment
  • They are Great! Variation I think is an important part of the evolution of our sport. The single ball event is a great way to introduce beginners to the idea that minigolf can be a sport. 
  • Multi-ball tournaments are vital to the overall improvement to the Pro players and preparing to play in mainland Europe. I can understand that it can be off putting to a beginner but as I have said in the past if you could differentiate the difference within a tournament perhaps it wouldn't appear so off putting to a novice.
  • The number of these should be reduced particularly as the more one ball tournaments there are, the more similar the sport looks to golf.
  • The World Crazies have been and will continue to be a very special tournament. But I think that going forward the BMGA needs to assess the impact of this tournament on other areas, principally does this event really deserve any ranking points?
  • By using a golf ball at the WCGC how are we ever going to get Sport England to see us as a separate sport from golf if we use a golf ball for one of our biggest events? Whilst the intention behind the golf ball - to make the event a more level playing field for novices and lower ranked players - was a very noble intention and should be applauded, I believe it would be a huge mistake to use a golf ball again in future World Crazy Golf Championships.

 

 

OTHER POINTS

 

  • Tour players voting rights.. Whether you can or can't attend the AGM, I feel that every Tour Pro should have a right to vote on the issues and options that are put to the attendees that effect our sport. The players forum is a great way of getting different opinions but I still think each player should have a voice. (if they had the chance to vote they can't whinge about the issue after!) (NB: this will be happening for this years AGM – see below for details)

 

  • How do we improve the relative strength of the club scene? Sean stressed again that it just needs one or two people to make the effort in putting on events and people will be keen to get involved. The Kent Minigolf Club has seen the benefit from this process – friendlies, invitational events, Opens – and with the arrival of social media (Facebook and Twitter are free) it just needs a few people to take the onus and push the clubs forward. Star City have a brilliant Monday evening offer for example and is a perfect example of a course that will be happy to support this type of initiative (as is the BMGA chairman!)).

 

The following points were not discussed die to time.

 

  • Consider removing wildcards from National Team Selection. Wildcards will always be controversial, and can lead to accusation of bias and/or poor judgements. In other words, they cause more problems than they solve. Instead, pick future teams based solely on rankings. Yes, a big name from the past might miss out. But I believe that picking solely on the rankings is fairer and will encourage more players to play more events if they want to get into team GB.

 

  • Can there be Tour Pro badges or Pendants?? Each year a unique Tour Pro badge could be worn by the players while practicing and playing in the tournaments showing that these players are worth watching and are worth asking what our sport is all about.  In the same instance those wearing the badges must be aware that they have a duty to conduct themselves befitting a BMGA tour pro as well as them realising that they have a duty to promote the game they currently play.

 

 

Sean closed the meeting by thanking all who participated in the players forum.

 

The points above hopefully will give food for thought for members and given the timing of the meeting we now have a chance to move forward and ensure the best possible tour for 2014 and beyond.

 

The BMGA AGM will take place on March 1st at the Lost Encounter at Sidcup World Of Golf from 9.00 am (with an expected finish time of midday at the latest).and the Players Forum provided a great opportunity to discuss ideas / raise motions which will then be voted on at the AGM (ensuring that the motions raised at the AGM have been well thought through and discussed with genuine active players on the tour).

 

Any paid-up full member (i.e. 2014 Tour Pro) of the BMGA may attend the AGM. Please let me know if you are planning on attending as this will help in the planning and organisation of the venue on the day.

 

Please note that any individual member of the BMGA can submit motions for the AGM agenda for discussion at the meeting. You will have read all of the points above and several areas will be raised as motions at the AGM and all members have an opportunity to have their say either by raising motions or voting on them at the AGM. 2014 Tour Pros unable to attend the AGM will be able to vote by proxy on motions raised before the AGM (NB Proxy votes will only be possible on motions that required a yes/no answer). Details of the voting process will be circulated with the motions.

 

All motions must be submitted with an explanation to Sean no later than 14 days before the AGM (i.e. by 15 February). A list of all motions will then be distributed to members via the official website 7 days before the meeting (22 February). NB: These deadlines do not apply to motions proposed by the Executive Committee.

 

Your voice is important – please use this opportunity to have you say.

 

If you have any questions or feedback regarding the points featured in this bulletin then please do not hesitate to contact me and I look forward to a great season ahead.

 

Sean.

 

Sean Homer – BMGA Chairman

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 01 February 2014 22:14 )
 

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