Competitions and Tournaments
Nearly all European countries have an official national federation for promoting minigolf as a competition
sport. The bi-annual European Championships attract competitors from more than twenty European countries. Outside Europe the only countries that have participated in international minigolf competitions are USA, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. A national minigolf federation exists also in Moldova, Mexico, India, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, but none of these countries have ever participated in international competitions, and probably are not arranging many domestic competitions either.
World Minigolfsport Federation represents some 40,000 registered competition players from 37 countries. The national minigolf federation of Germany has 11,000 members with a competing license, and the Swedish federation has 8,000 registered competition players. Other strong minigolf countries include Austria and Switzerland, each having a few thousand licensed competition players. Also Italy, Czech Republic and Netherlands have traditionally been able to send a strong team to international championships, even if they cannot count their licensed players in thousands.
The sceptre of competitive minigolf rests quite firmly in mainland Europe: no player from other countries (such as UK, USA, Japan et cetera) has ever reached even the top 50 in World Championships (in men's category). Nearly all national federations outside Europe were founded only quite recently (within the last 10 years), and it will take time before the players of these countries learn all secrets of the game. USA has a longer history of minigolf competitions, but the standardized European competition courses are practically unknown in USA, and therefore the American players have been unable to learn the secrets of European minigolf. On the traditional American courses the best American players are able to challenge the European top players into a tough and exciting competition.
The British Minigolf Association (BMGA) has an additional – and quite surprising – problem on their way to greater success in competitive minigolf. While the minigolf federations in mainland Europe receive annual funding from the government, in Britain the national sports organisation Sports England has refused to accept BMGA as its member – which means that BMGA is left without the public funding that other forms of sports enjoy. The rules of Sports England declare that only one variant of each sport can be accepted as member – and minigolf is interpreted as a variant of golf.
No person is known to be earning his living by competing in minigolf. Many course owners and employees naturally earn their living by working at minigolf courses, and some of the best minigolf players earn their living from minigolf-related work, such as giving putting lessons to golf players.
The highest money prizes are paid in the United States, where the winner of a major competition may earn up to 5,000 US dollars. In mainland Europe the money prizes are generally quite low, and in many cases honor is the only thing at stake in the competition. International championships usually award no money prizes at all.
In the US there are two organizations offering national tournaments: the Professional Putters Association and the US Pro Mini-Golf Association (USPMGA). The USPMGA represents the United States in the World Minigolfsport Federation, having been an active member since 1995. USPMGA President Robert Detwiler is also the WMF representative for North and South America.
New Israeli Minigolf Association was established in February 2010 in Israel. Setting up, for the first time, league playing according the rules of WMF and USPMGA. Now, a series of lush and inviting minigolf parks in prime locations are building around Israel and will be offering this need of adventure to the public at very attractive surrounding.