Uppsala, Sweden - The World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF) together with Svenska Bangolfförbundet (SBGF) and Uppsala Bangolfklubb (UBGK) held the Minigolf World Championships 2023 General Class from August 22 through August 26, 2023. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first time the World Championships was played since 2019 when they were held in Zhouzhuang, China. The World Championships are the premier international miniature golf tournament, normally held every two years.
The competition was held on the miniaturegolf and feltgolf courses at the UBGK. The miniaturegolf was expected to see high levels of play from all the countries but the popular discussion was that the felt would favor the home Swedes. The UBGK was founded in 1934 and is one of Sweden’s oldest bangolf clubs, with approximately 250 members. Svenska Bangolfförbundet was founded in 1937 to support the sport. For the most part the weather both leading up to the tournament and during the tournament days was excellent and what rain did appear was weathered well by the players. Eighty-eight men and thirty-two women represented seventeen countries across the fours divisions of competition: team stroke play, individual stroke play, match play and mixed pairs.
After several days of practice the tournament festivities started in what would be the worst weather of the week on August 20th as the rain came down for the celebrity pro-am event. Several Swedish champions in other sports were paired with some of the best players in the world championships to play a rain-shortened event of seven holes with unique scoring for aces and closest to the pin. Despite being soaked, everyone had fun and it was a great lead-in to the Opening Ceremony where SBGF president Mats Söderkvist provided an opening speech talking about the special place the World Championships hold and urging participants to push the sport of minigolf forward together.
Newly elected WMF President Leif Meitilberg tees off during the rainy pro-am
The tournament proper started two days later with the first three rounds of strokeplay, which made up half of the teams competition. This portion was wrapped up on the 23rd with the final three rounds. It was expected that the Swedish putters and teams would do well in this tournament given the home track advantage and that did start to take hold with the team results. The Swedish men had a dominating performance, winning golf by over twenty strokes. It would set up other medals for the team of Ulf Kristiansson, Rikard Lindqvist, Eirik Seljelid, Alexander Princis, Fredrik Persson, Carl-Johan Ryner and Amir El Quachani. The German men similarly dominated the silver position on the podium, capturing that by nearly thirty strokes over Switzerland. The women’s division saw a flip of gold and silver with the German women cruising into the top spot by nearly 40 combined strokes. It would not be the last medals the team of Jasmin Bothmann, Stefanie Blendermann, Melanie Hammerschmidt and Michaela Krane would win either. Sweden kept strong on a much closer battle for the silver with the Austrian women.
Men's Team Podium (L to R: Germany 2nd, Sweden 1st, Switzerland 3rd)
Women's Team Podium (L to R: Sweden 2nd, Germany 1st, Austria 3rd)
The third day had the last two rounds for all players which set up the cut for the final two rounds in both divisions. The top 15 men and top 9 women made these final rounds and it set up some exciting action. In the women’s division it went mostly as expected with Stefanie Blendermann and Melanie Hammerschmidt, battling for the top spot. Despite a slight comeback by Hammerschmidt in the final round, Blendermann would hold on for the gold by four strokes. Karin Olsson also made a charge with the only 19 in the final two rounds but would settle for bronze as she outlasted Lara Jehle of Austria.
L to R: Melanie Hammerschmidt (Germany) 2nd, Stefanie Blendermann (Germany) 1st, Karin Olsson (Sweden) 3rd
For the men it was a nailbiter down to the last few holes across all of the medals. Going into the rounds Yannick Müller was a strong frontrunner but it was Ulf Kristiansson who made the first move with a 20 on miniaturegolf and then has a blazing 22, a course record, on the felt to pull into the lead and take the gold by three strokes. Müller had to be careful of the charging Carl-Johan Ryner as rounds of 20 and 23 vaulted him up the leaderboard, nearly catching Müller but falling one stroke short to capture third over Eirik Seljelid.
L to R: Yannick Müller (Germany) 2nd, Ulf Kristiansson (Sweden) 1st, Carl-Johan Ryner (Sweden) 3rd
Friday brought the mixed pairs competition and some familiar names battled it out over the early rounds. It was tight between the team of Karin Olsson and Carl-Johan Ryner (Sweden) and Jasmin Bothmann and Yannick Müller (Germany) going into the final of four rounds but then the Swedes showed their dominance on felt again. With their second combined 26 of the mixed tournament, Olsson and Ryner pulled away from the pack and went into the final hole without the chance of being beaten. They would take gold by a margin of 6 strokes while Bothmann and Müller would grab silver with a final lane ace to win by one over Lara Jehle and Mario Dangl from Austria.
L to R: Jasmin Bothmann and Yannick Müller (Germany) 2nd, Karin Olsson and Carl-Johan Ryner (Sweden) 1st, Lara Jehle and Mario Dangl (Austria) 3rd
The last medals of the tournament would go to the matchplay winners, the field having been set based on previous strokeplay scores. Thirty-two men and sixteen women competed around a set of 18 lanes from the two courses combined. The Germans got the best of most of the field in this competition with all three spots on the women’s side taken by them. Melanie Hammerschmidt defeated Stefanie Blendermann for gold and Jasmin Bothmann outlasted Anna Bandera of Italy for the bronze. On the men’s side the country distribution was a bit wider. Lukas Neumann, who had one of four perfect 18s on the miniaturegolf during strokeplay, would withstand another late charge by Carl-Johan Ryner on the felt to grab gold and Thomas Lottermoser of Austria would take the bronze over Yannick Müller.
L to R: Stefanie Blendermann (Germany) 2nd, Melanie Hammerschmidt (Germany) 1st, Jasmin Bothmann (Germany) 3rd
L to R: Carl-Johan Ryner (Sweden) 2nd, Lukas Neumann (Germany) 1st, Thomas Lottermoser (Austria) 3rd
Final Medal Count:
Germany: 10 - 4G, 5S, 1B
Sweden: 7 - 3G, 2S, 2B
Austria: 3 - 3B
Switzerland: 1 - 1B
The next Minigolf World Championships General Class will be held in 2025 in Arnsberg-Neheim, Germany. The final results of the various categories can be found at the links below.
The WMF is the umbrella organisation of Minigolf sports associations worldwide and continental associations in Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. The WMF is a member of AIMS (Alliance of Independent Recognised Members of Sport) and TAFISA (The Association For International Sport for All).