Note from Riggs: In return for coining #ReadTheBlog, I am providing space for Nick Heilman to write The 19th Green blog on the intense Putt Putt Championships events held on conjunction with the Fusion Open ... and perhaps other tournaments.
It’s that time of year again. The temperatures are dropping, the leaves are changing colors, the birds are flying south for the winter, and the Midwest’s greatest putters are heading to Waterloo, IA for the last major of the year.
Unlike last year’s invitation format, this year’s Championships will be an open field held in conjunction with the GIBA Fusion Realtors/Community First National Bank Open on September 17th. Anyone who is in town to bowl, or watch, is welcome to come out to this prestigious event. Tee times will kick off at 7:30 pm in order to give those who bowled A & B squads enough time to grab a bite to eat and get to the course. The Lost Island Championship will be conducted over all 36 scenic holes of this exquisite course. Entry fee into the tournament will be $20 with $10 going towards green fees and $10 going towards the prize fund. This year we will feature a doubles event along with the 36 hole championship. New this year, there will be a TROPHY for the 36 hole champion.
The tournament’s Facebook page is here.
As expected, the message boards have been flooded over talk of who will be attending this year’s event. Let’s take a look at some of the favorites to take home the G.M.P.A. Lost Island Open…
- Matt McNeil: A lot has been made of the downward spiral Matt’s career has taken after suffering just an embarrassing defeat at last year’s Lost Island Open. There were plenty of bleak moments for Matt as he fought his way through depression, gambling halls, and countless unsavory environments. Thankfully, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. A friend that never stopped caring. A compadre that couldn’t bear to let him live like that. A buddy that would be his lifeline and convince him to refocus and return to his former glory. A Eric Vermilyea.
- Eric Vermilyea: Life has been busy for McNeil’s recently appointed life coach/ sensei. But just as Splinter found time to guide the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles towards a virtuous life, and pizza, so has Eric guided McNeil back to putt putt. Eric’s game has been put on the back burner as he has ushered McNeil back off the ledge, but he will look to grab some success of his own come September 17th. (But hopefully not too much as he doesn’t want to frighten his pupil back underground)
- Andy Mills: Success has not been kind to Andy Mills. After winning last year’s event, Andy will be forced to watch from the sidelines as he is serving a suspension for AEDs (Attention Enhancing Drugs). The GMPA is allowing him to keep his 2015 title but it remains a mystery as to whether he was using at the time. When recently asked if he had any comments about the suspension he said, “This is outrageous! I don’t need the help of any ‘illegal’ focus enhances to perform at my highest level of greatne…. Oh look, a blue car!”
- Chad Mass: The most controversial figure in this year’s event will undoubtedly be the bad boy of mini golf, Chad Maas. Chad was a child prodigy and left home at the age of 8 to pursue his dreams on the mini golf tour. He found immediate success and his confidence skyrocketed along with his bank accounts. He has traveled the country as a lone wolf grabbing championships along the way, but this will be the first time he shows his face in Waterloo after the putter toss incident of ’03. For those living in the stone age, it’s a not so well kept secret that the character of Chazz Michael Michaels from the cinematic masterpiece ‘Blades of Glory’ was based on Chad’s life.
- Rob Warren: Known as the third splash brother for his incredible long range game, Rob is looking to come back from a middle of the pack finish last year. Rob is also no stranger to suspensions and fines as he is known as a bit of a showoff and loudmouth on tour. He has made his share of enemies and is looking to put them all in their place in Waterloo.
- Dave Beres: Quick, name the greatest two sport athletes of all time. That’s easy you say; Dave Beres, Bo Jackson, and Deion Sanders. Dave “Grizzly” Beres took a different approach to becoming the sport’s greatest ambassador. In January, The Grizz renounced all worldly possessions and moved to Singapore with the monks to clear his mind and focus solely on mini golf. Dave’s recent cover on the Putt Putt Periodical clearly shows it was the correct decision. The Grizz still isn’t searching for the notoriety that putt putt has thrown his way, but he is certainly soaking it all in.
- Chris Barnes: We all remember watching this young kid in glasses tear up the putt putt scene on television in the 90s. What they didn’t show was horrific back injury he suffered from switching to a belly putter for extra length off the tee. He is in the beginning of his comeback and is said to be able to work the clowns, windmills, and volcanoes but only time will tell if he has the power to make the loop to loops. Word on the street is he has chosen this weekend to make a return to make a run at knocking Dave Beres off his perch.
- Mike Flanagan: Mike has been a huge help to our sister company, GIBA, over the years in his live streaming of the bowling event that just happens to be going on the same weekend as us. However, this year he plans on putting the live stream on autopilot and head out to the links to join in. He will be debuting his latest business endeavor as he unleashes his NEW live stream company, Outside Putt-Putt.com .
- Jeff Richgels: A wily veteran of reporting on the Midwest putt putt scene, Jeff was all set to make his debut on the links until a ruptured hang nail sent him back behind the keyboard. Doctors don’t think it is life threatening and we should see him on the links in 2017.
- Chad Nelson: As the birds fly south for the winter, so does the Owatonna Assassin to the links of Lost Island. Chad is a local hero on the central Minnesota putt putt scene and is looking to prove he is capable of success anywhere he swings a putter.
There is still plenty of time to work on your swing and get yourself into shape to come join us on the links. Let me know if you plan on joining the fun as we have all but unlimited room for putters on Saturday night. Keep your eyes peeled for a Facebook event page as well.
Until next time, you stay classy, putters.
Another note from Riggs: My availability is dependent on the temperature of the dice tables and the beer at Isle of Capri Waterloo, as well as Susie Fever’s need for #WalkinAroundMoney.