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Amazing Strokes: Miniature Golf for Amateurs, Professionals and Hole-in-One Seekers


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Amazing Strokes: Miniature Golf for Professionals, Amateurs and Hole-in-One Seekers

Putt-Putt®, or its first cousin, miniature golf, is a sport that is inexpensive, and can be enjoyed by families and friends as recreation. There are professional putters in the U.S. playing both types of miniature golf. They spend vacation days chasing that elusive first-place “win”, with checks from $1,000-$10,000 and an engraved trophy. Abroad, miniature golf is far more popular, and those putters are ecstatic about first place medallions, trophies and a bit less in monetary rewards. Six hundred to a thousand-pound (roughly, $750 - $1,250 in USD) purse is icing on top of the win.

Miniature golf is the perfect antidote to our current technology-fixated society. In Wisconsin, The Red Putter opens on Jan. 1 for three rounds of a Frostbite Open, with players helping clear snow off the course. Abroad, it’s common to play in downpours and temperatures hovering in the high ‘50s.

Whether playing just for fun, on a date night (George and Laura Bush met on a miniature golf course), or for professional accolades, miniature golf can be enjoyed by all ages (well, maybe not infants). Putters come in all shapes, sizes, men and women, those with no skills, or 25 years of putting experience, often observed by the nicks in their favorite putter.

In Amazing Strokes, Gretchen Smith offers a captivating account of a sport that reaches well beyond its fascinating history. Miniature golf, you’ll find, is a participatory sport. Insert yourself into the sport’s records by reviewing a miniature golf course. The Putting Penguin™ will show you how. Discover how Bluegrass Miniature Golf built their course, start to finish. Miniature golf, you will find, has many practical, real-world applications. The last chapter showcases how miniature golf is being used in education, urban planning, architecture, ecology and philanthropy.

Three years of research, interviews with hundreds of putters and field experts, tournament participation, putting visits to different types of courses (including putting courses on golf courses) make this a book that will pry you from your computer or smartphone, and send you in search of your nearest miniature golf course.

Amazing Strokes is for all amateur and professional putters who have been yearning for a classic, fun and economical sport that can be found in a 30,000 square-foot space (two 18-hole courses), so they can spend more time…putting, of course!

About the Author:

Gretchen Smith admits she is perhaps the world’s worst professional putter. Where a 21.5 average over 12 rounds wins a tournament, her best finish was a 45.628 at the 2013 U.S. Open in Myrtle Beach, SC. Proof that to be a great putter, one has to practice.

I fell in love with miniature golf, not because I was good at it, but because of the people I met. Both in Putt-Putt® and miniature golf, they are men and women that are the heart of America, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Czechoslovakia and other countries. They won’t give you a mulligan, but they readily offers hugs, bad jokes, tricks of putting (pre-tournament), and understanding when things are tough.

Forty colleagues came to a memorial service in early 2016 for the late Mike Baldoza, one of Putt-Putt’s® greats, just to share memories with his mother, Juanita. Facebook lit up when Matt and Beth McCaslin had their first and second daughters. It didn’t matter if one knew Matt or not. This was an occasion to be celebrated.

This explains why after 30 years as a writing and research professional, I gave myself a dream assignment: to tell stories about this amazing, incredible sport, the life lessons it has taught amateur and professional putters, and the economic and educational potential of this skill-based sport.

A transplant from the HoosierLand by way of Ohio and now, Michigan, she roots for her beloved Cleveland Indians, fusses over her longhaired dachshund, Jack, and is plotting a trip to Scotland.

Her family and friends know if she spies a miniature golf course while traveling, the car stops and the putter and Chromax ball come out. Forget the scorecard.


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Gretchen Smith
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