By Alex Matthews
This couple are crazy about mini golf – and have ticked off over 740 courses all over the country.
Richard and Emily Gottfried began a quest over a decade ago to play on every course in the country, but the current boom in the sport is making it a difficult achievement.
When they began in 2006, they found an internet list of over 600 courses up and down the UK and Channel Islands.
However, despite having completed rounds at 743 spots, new openings are making their challenge seem ‘unending’.
But the crazy golf enthusiasts, who have even represented Great Britain in the sport, are determined to carry on visiting every city, town and village where they spy a course.
Their mission has taken them as far north as Loch Lomond and as far south as Cornwall, with each location meticulously photographed.
Richard, 37, from Stockport, said: “You could say it’s crazy. It really has become an addiction.
“Mini golf is incredibly good fun, and always such a challenge as the courses are so different.
“Some require a lot of skill, and other are just down to luck.
“Visiting all of them has become a bit of an obsession for us, but it’s also been a great way to use our weekends and see other parts of the country we otherwise would never have been to.
“You also make lots of friends in the mini golf community. It’s great!
“As much fun as I always have playing with Emily, we are also really competitive.
“We very often finish only a couple of shots apart, and sometimes if I lose I won’t speak to her in the car on the way home!”
Richard and Emily began playing in 2006 when Richard got a new job and a car to make his then commute from Luton to St Albans.
They decided to take more seaside trips and, on the first one they made, they played a round of mini golf.
In their first game, Richard made a shot on the final hole to win them a free second game, and they returned the next day.
They enjoyed their second game even more, and the love affair with the sport grew from there.
The couple even became so involved with the game that they represented Great Britain in international competitions, and finished fourth in the 2012 World Adventure Golf Masters.
Richard, who works in marketing, said: “It really did just become a great way to take our minds off work.
“Part of the fun was in planning where we would go and where we would play next.
“But it is a bit odd to recall it all started with hitting that one lucky shot at the end of the game and setting a cannon off!
“We played enough that we got to represent Great Britain from 2007 to 2015 and play all over the world.
“It was fantastic, but our highest ever finish was fourth.
“Here in the UK it’s taken a lot less seriously, especially as we call it crazy golf and associate it with holidays.
“In many other countries it’s a legitimate sport. So we were often the underdogs at competitions.”
The couple log each place they have visited on a spreadsheet and blog about their favourite courses.
They also keep up with new mini golf course openings by following mini golf news and scouring council websites.
But with the game enjoying an increase in popularity, keeping up with the new courses is proving difficult.
However, hunt for the latest courses has allowed them to visit vast swathes of the UK.
Surprisingly, Richard’s favourite spot for mini golf is tucked away from the seaside in Castleford, Yorks.
He said: “We make sure we keep a record of everywhere we go. It’s often good fun to look at it.
“However, we find ourselves going back to the same places because new courses are opening up all the time.
“Mini golf had a boom in the 20s and the 60s and it appears to be happening again. It keeps us busy trying to keep up with them all.
“There are millions of people playing around the country, both at traditional seaside spots and new indoor centres.
“It’s really marvellous to see.
“I really can’t even begin to put together my favourite ten holes I’ve played. To me it’s an unanswerable question.
“But one of my favourite places to go is Castleford. They have six courses within about a mile, one of which is glow in the dark, and it’s great fun to have so many different games so close together.”