Can You Beat Biggy?

Notre Dame-Michigan Rivalry an Electrifying Fit at The Sand Trap

By David Biggy | Jul 17, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Ship Bottom — Shannon and Tommy Gibson have quite the Notre Dame spirit. She’s 18 and headed to South Bend, Ind., in the fall as a biological sciences major, and he’s 16 and a bigger fan of the Fighting Irish than she is. So it was no surprise to see them dressed in Notre Dame garb when the sister-brother tandem showed up at The Sand Trap in Ship Bottom on July 10 for the fifth week of “Can You Beat Biggy?” They even brought fans – 16 of them! After all, they were coming after a Michigan fan and intent on burying me.

“I got a text message from my uncle, with my dad and brother grouped in it, and it was a screen shot of an email saying we were going to play mini golf against some guy named Biggy,” Shannon explained. “I heard you were a Michigan fan, and it was game over.”

Tommy was a bit more blunt about it.

“When I heard about it, I thought, ‘I have to bring this guy down.’ That was it.”

With an entourage of raving Fighting Irish fans behind them – all dressed to fit the part and not just cheering for the youngsters, but waving several Notre Dame banners as well – it was a wonder I was able to concentrate on putting. Nonetheless, the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry had made its way to The Sand Trap, and the atmosphere was electric.

“Coming into it, I was a little nervous,” Shannon said. “I didn’t know if my mini-golf skills were up to the challenge.”

Hmmm ... Yeah, sure. She sank a hole-in-one on the first hole. I guess it’s worth noting that both of them had played in The Sand Trap’s weekly tournament the day before, and Shannon just happened to finish second in her age group.

Still, her one-stroke lead after No. 1 didn’t last long. She double-bogeyed No. 2 while Tommy and I bogeyed, and we were all knotted up going to the third. But Shannon didn’t falter through the rest of the front nine. She scored a trio of threes on Nos. 3, 4 and 5, then two-stroked the next four to take a one-stroke lead over her brother, 22-23. As for me, a five on the fifth, followed by a bunch of threes, set me back five.

Not surprising, I didn’t get any help from cousin Sean, a 10-year-old firecracker of a kid following us through the course, when I asked for a tip on the eighth hole.

“I know how to get a hole-in-one here,” he said sharply. “But I’m not going to tell a Michigan guy.” Thanks, Sean!

Heading to the 13th – following a pair of fives on Nos. 10 and 12 by both Tommy and me – Shannon looked to be taking control, going up three strokes on her brother and six on me. But on No. 13, Tommy dropped a huge hole-in-one, complete with a Tiger Woods-esque fist pump, and he immediately had a different look in his eye. On the next hole, Shannon faltered in a big way, taking a six after Tommy went even on the par-2.

And that was the end, folks. Tommy went two, three, two and one on the final four holes while his sister sank lower on the leaderboard, using 19 strokes on the final six holes. At the same time, I hit a bit of a solid streak as well, firing a 14 on the final six, including a quartet of twos from Nos. 15 through 18.

However, while Tommy ended up running away with the top spot at one-over-par 46, my seven-over 52 wasn’t enough to knock off Shannon, who ended with a six-over 51.

And, of course, the Gibson entourage – mom and dad, Tom and Danielle; sister Taylor; uncle Jim and aunt Kelly, along with cousins Paddy, Sean and Molly; aunt Laura and grandpa Tom and grandma Gerry – and high school pals Charlie Peyton, Kevin Thompson, and Kelly, Cassie and Cayden Coster – were delighted by the result.

“I want to dedicate this win to the owner, Larry, who couldn’t be here today,” Tommy said. “He’s injured and we missed him today, but we’re wishing him a speedy recovery.”

Shannon “had a lot of fun with it.”

“Oh, I’m definitely going to Notre Dame and telling people to look up the article,” she added. “It will give me some talking points when I get out there, that I beat a Michigan guy at The Sand Trap this summer.”

— David Biggy

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