THE KENT OPEN: a 'brief' look back at the history of the event by KMGC Captain Sean Homer
Where it all began – 2006 (Strokes)
After the formation of the Kent Minigolf Club in the summer of 2006 we were proud to host our very first club Open at Strokes Adventure Golf in Margate. As a late addition to that season’s tour, we were able to squeeze the event in right at the end of the season in November (the now traditional Kent Open slot in the BMGA calendar) and 23 players graced the greens for the two round event. With the weather proving to be kind (as it has for all bar one of our Opens) it saw Steve Vallory take the victory by 1 shot beating the Kent Captain to lift the trophy and secure his place in KMGC history.
The KMGC take their first tour victory – 2007 (Strokes)
A strong field of over 30 players including all the big names on the BMGA tour battled out the 2007 title which moved to a three round event (the format that has been in place for all our Opens since). I went into the final round trailing Tim ‘Aceman’ Davies – the legend of UK minigolf – by 1 shot and after a thrilling third round, I had pulled level with Tim and the Kent Open saw its first play off to decide the title (with 4 players – Tim, Andy Exall, Ted McIver and myself involved). An ace by me at the first hole saw the KMGC win their first UK title and start a sequence of tournament wins by the club that continues to this day.
Kent dominate proceedings – 2008 (Strokes)
The third Kent Open saw Strokes hosting the event again and saw the KMGC really start to make an impact on the tour with 4 of the club finishing in the top 5 including a career best result from runner up Dave ‘Four Strings’ Forrest – one of the club founders along with Andy ‘Sarge’ Booth, Marion ‘Double Trouble’ Homer and myself – with Andy ‘Mr X’ Exall, runner up in 2007, taking the title by 2 strokes and joining the Kent Open hall of fame.
The wet Kent Open – 2009 (Strokes)
For the first time in Kent Open history, the event was blighted by dreadful weather that saw a couple of players actually fail to finish as the rain did its best to wash out the final event on the calendar in 2009. Against all odds, the event did actually reach a conclusion and for the second time in three years, the title was decided in a play off between future British Open Champion Marc ‘Chappers / aka The Force’ Chapman and Planet Hastings player Nick ‘Top Hole’ Chitty. After 4 holes, the competition was settled with Nick coming out on top and joining the growing list of Kent Open winners.
A new venue and the first double winner – the 2010 (Lost Island Encounter)
After four years at Strokes, the Kent Open moved to its current home at the Lost Island adventure golf course in Sidcup. After yet another close competition, the fifth Kent Open was decided again by a play off, this time between Tony ‘T Max’ Kelly and myself. With Tony taking a two at the first play off hole, I stepped up and aced the hole to take the title and become the first (but not the last) two time Kent Open Champion.
A new ball and a new victor – the 2011 (Lost Island Encounter)
2011 saw the introduction of the first official ball of the Kent Open (a KMGC branded golf ball) as the event moved to a single ball competition – a great way to help level the playing field and also give players a memento of taking part. After a close fought battle, Seth ‘Clockwork Orange’ Thomas took the spoils for the Green Minigolf Club by one shot from the future British Open winner, Adam ‘AK47’ Kelly.
Another new ball and the second double winner – the 2012 (Lost Island Encounter)
Six years of play offs and tight finishes were distant memories as the introduction of the now fabled white VTK Kent Open ball saw the Kent Open hall of fame welcome its second two time winner as Seth blew away all the competition in the biggest Kent Open to date to finish with a record breaking 9 under par, 6 shots clear of the field. A truly memorable win and the only player in the events history to successfully defend their title.
The arrival of the final Kent Open ball – the 2013 (Lost Island Encounter)
2013 saw the arrival of the final version of the Kent Open ball into the competition and another strong field battle it out for the title. Once again the Kent Open proved to be an epic battle between two time winner Sean and team mate Michael ‘Hole In One Kenobi’ Smith who made history by winning the Kent Invitational Tournament and the Kent Open in the same weekend (a feat yet to be matched). The new ball had proved to be a great addition and continues to be the only ball used in the Kent Open going forward.
The youngest Kent Open winner – the 2014 (Lost Island Encounter)
The KMGC did it again as the 9th Open, with record breaking numbers, finished with yet another play off. This time Michael was to lose out to a new name on the trophy, Will ‘Delaney’ Donnelly, winning his first tour event and becoming the youngest ever winner of the Kent Open in the process.
The 10th Kent Open – 2015 (Lost Island Encounter)
And so here we are, our 10th Open and what a field it’s shaping up to be. Looks like we will have our biggest ever Open and with two players looking to become triple KO winners, another two looking to join the double winners rostrum and countless others looking to pick up their first ever Kent Open title it promises to be a fantastic competition on Sunday.
You can find all the results, tons of photos and some entertaining reports in the KMGC website archives (www.kentminigolfclub.co.uk) and we look forward to welcoming all the players this weekend for what will be a great way to celebrate our 10th anniversary Open.