Can You Beat Biggy?

Mr. Tee’s Owner Calls in Young Tourney Players for ‘Something Different’ ... and a Rematch Down the Road

By DAVID BIGGY | Aug 07, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Eric Lukenda tees off on the fourth hole as Dean Collier looks on during the ‘Can You Beat Biggy?’ challenge match at Mr. Tee’s in Beach Haven on July 31.

Beach Haven — Originally, the July 31 “Can You Beat Biggy?” match had a challenger on the slate, but he couldn’t find a partner. So I went to Plan B, which was to tote a cardboard sign down to Beach Haven – bait the hook, essentially.

“I’m going to stand outside your place with a sign that says, ‘Play me! Play for free!’ or something like that,” I told Mr. Tee’s owner Karen Rosania by phone the day before.

“You don’t have to do that,” she answered. “I know a lot of people who come here all the time that would play you. I already have two in mind.”

Rosania, who had been waiting since June for me to arrive to her downtown venue, first tried to get 19-year-old Logan Lukenda and his brother, Eric. However, Logan had just left for a trip, and the question was raised: What about Eric’s friend, Dean Collier?

“I’ve known both boys since they were little,” Rosania said. “They live in Beach Haven for the summer, and their families often play here in the evenings. The boys have played in our weekly tournament for years.”

Stop the presses! These “boys” were ringers, for sure. And when I showed up for our 11 a.m. contest, there they were, sitting on the bench, talking to “Mrs. Tee” – each one with about seven or eight medals hanging around his neck! Oh, this is going to be lots of fun. Karen’s trying to end my winning streak. (Note: the last time I lost, on July 10, it was to a pair of teenagers.)

“I’ve played in the tournaments here, but I’ve never been challenged to play a certain person,” Eric said. “When I heard about it, I looked up ‘mini golf challenge LBI’ and saw it show up for The SandPaper, but I wasn’t sure it was you. But then Mrs. Tee told me it was you, and I wanted to do it.”

“I was happy to do it,” Dean said. “It was something different, and I was interested to see how it would work out. I was excited.”

Until I gave them the bad news, that we wouldn’t be playing the “Victorian Gardens” course, but instead the “Pirates Bay” course – the one they don’t play for the Mr. Tee’s tournaments.

“I thought my game was over at that point,” Dean said later, about 45 minutes after shooting a 3 and 5 on the first two holes, immediately falling behind by four strokes to Eric and me. Unfortunately, he never caught us, despite a hole-in-one on No. 3.

Still, for a pair of 13-year-olds playing against a dude more than three times their age, these kids were legit. And Eric was a hot shot. By the fifth hole, he had fallen behind me by a pair of strokes, but a couple of holes-in-one on Nos. 8 and 9 kept him behind me by two heading into the back nine.

Eric was great through the first seven holes of the back, too. But despite a bit of a miscue on the 13th hole – where I bogeyed with a 3 – a pair of aces on my 11th and 14th holes set him back three strokes, and we played even the rest of the way. For once, my back nine was slightly worse than my front nine, but I still scored a 4-under 34, while Eric registered a 1-under 37. Dean ended up with an 8-over 46.

“I learned you’re a surprisingly good golfer,” Dean said to me afterward. “But this was cool. It was fun.”

Eric would have rather played the other course, but wasn’t unhappy with his score.

“I’ve played this course a couple of times, so I was all right with it,” he said. “It’s not an easier course, but you can get more holes-in-one on it. Victorian Gardens is a little more difficult.”

Very well, then. A rematch is in order, especially since these awesome youngsters agreed to play me on short notice. So, I’ll see Eric and Dean again, for the Aug. 30 finale – on the “Victorian Gardens” course.

“Now, that’s going to be really cool,” said Rosania, excitedly clapping her hands. “I can’t wait.”

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