‘Can You Beat Biggy?’ Tournament

Second Time the Charm for Baseball Player from Bergen County

By DAVID BIGGY | Dec 11, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Ship Bottom — Joe Caporale Sr., Joe Caporale Jr., Joe Mandano and Sal Caporale completed their initial round in the first “Can You Beat Biggy?” Miniature Golf Tournament at The Sand Trap on Dec. 7, and then took a short walk to the Dollar General store across Long Beach Boulevard. Three of them returned to the entrance gate 15 minutes later.

“It was awesome that this was a charity tournament, just a really cool thing,” said Sal, moments after accepting the men’s division trophy for his first-place score of 46. “We wanted to donate some more, so we came back to play a second time.”

With no stipulation in the tournament regulations stating he couldn’t participate a second time, the 16-year-old from Washington Township in Bergen County took full advantage of the opportunity, shaving nine strokes off his previous score.

“I needed a practice round,” he said with a laugh. “What changed was I made fewer errors. Instead of scoring a 3 on some holes, I strung together a bunch of 2s and didn’t get as many 4s. My first time on the 13th hole, I got stuck and shot a 4, but I got a hole-in-one the second time. I fixed some mistakes and that’s how I ended up with a 46.”

The Westwood High School baseball player not only won the tournament, he also was one of eight challengers who beat me, along with my professional mini-golfing friends, Aaron Kaminski and Rudy Reel from O-Street Mini Golf. I scored a 51, while Aaron placed third overall with a 47 and Rudy ended up 17th with a 53.

“I’m excited about that,” Sal said. “When we showed up today, I didn’t think I’d beat you or have the lowest score. But it did take me two times to do it. I wouldn’t have been close if we walked away after our first round.”

Interestingly, it took only one try for Wendy Torroni to post the lowest score among the women. Playing in a foursome alongside husband David and their children, D.J. and Brittney, Wendy delivered a killer round of 47, registering only one 4 and a 5 to finish with the second-highest score of the day.

“We played a tournament hosted by O-Street in Ocean City and we found out through their Facebook or Instagram,” said Wendy, who admitted to watching the O-Street course review of The Sand Trap on YouTube a few days prior to the tournament. “We’re a competitive family and this was our first time playing here. This is a good, challenging course.”

The Torronis, who drove north on the Garden State Parkway from Avalon, brought a case of Pedigree dog food, contributing to the 98 items delivered to the Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter. Wendy was thrilled to tie Kaminski and score better than Reel.

“I had Apple Jacks for breakfast, so the sugar rush definitely helped,” she said. “I got lucky on a few holes, and I only scored a 2 on the dreaded hole No. 10. We loved that this was a charity tournament.”

While 29 mini-golf enthusiasts took the challenge of trying to best my score – four more played but didn’t turn in a scorecard – the most important thing was that a bunch of generous donors delivered a slew of items prior to my arrival to The Sand Trap Saturday morning. Delivered to the St. Francis Community Center food pantry were 321 non-perishable and hygiene items, while a handful of gift cards will be handed off to David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation for care packages.

“We have four dogs, so it was great to be able to donate to the animal shelter,” said Melinda Patelli, who along with her son, C.J., was first in line to play about 20 minutes ahead of the official start time. “I saw the story about it in The SandPaper’s Holiday Guide and immediately showed it to C.J. We both love miniature golf, and this was such a great idea.”

Patelli finished a stroke ahead of me, scoring a 50, while C.J. finished in fifth place with a 48, a stroke back of Blair Stiefbold, who ended up right behind Kaminski via tiebreaker.

“I haven’t played here in a while,” said C.J., whose strategy to scoring well at The Sand Trap was to not overhit the ball and keep the first ball as close to the hole as possible for a two-putt. “This definitely is a challenging course. The holes are pretty unforgiving. It seems everything rims out if the putt’s not directly to the center of the hole.”

Don’t I know it?! During the launch-group round, that was my downfall up against Aaron. After I started off with a hole-in-one on the first hole, I held a one-stroke lead at the midway mark. Unfortunately, No. 10 wasn’t kind to Rudy, who ended up settling for the tournament-maximum 6 strokes, and never recovered. Meanwhile, Aaron stayed close, matching my 2 with one of his own.

By the 12th hole, I was up two strokes, but my first 6 of the match, combined with Aaron’s 4, had us tied going into the 13th. Aaron then dropped a hole-in-one to temporarily take the lead, but a 4 on the 14th put him back by a stroke going into the 15th – when the wheels fell off the wagon for me, thanks to that “rimming out” described by C.J.

With a 5-foot putt for a second shot, my ball slid off the left side of the cup. Three consecutive shots did the exact same and my lead disappeared, while Aaron regained the advantage with a 2 on No. 15.

Joe Caporale Jr. and Sr. each scored 49 to beat me as well, finishing sixth and seventh, respectively. D.J. Torroni also scored a 51, but ended up behind me due to the tiebreaker criteria set up by Sand Trap host John Schroeder.

“I got a 2 on the 15th hole,” said a smiling Joe Jr., a former golfer for Westwood High School. “I wasn’t really too good in high school, but I was good enough to beat Biggy today.”

Big thanks to all who donated and my sincerest gratitude to owner Larry Leff for allowing us to use The Sand Trap for the “Can You Beat Biggy?” Tournament. Keep a watch on The SandPaper and our social media feeds for upcoming announcements about next year’s “Can You Beat Biggy?” series and maybe another charity tournament slated for the summertime.



“Can You Beat Biggy?”

Tournament Results

1. Sal Caporale, 46

2. Wendy Torroni, 47

3. Aaron Kaminski, 47

4. Blair Stiefbold, 47

5. C.J. Reo, 48

6. Joe Caporale Jr., 49

7. Joe Caporale Sr., 49

8. Melinda Patelli, 50

9. Biggy, 51

10. D.J. Torroni, 51

11. Sarah Swan, 52

12. Liam Brett, 52

13. Ryan Morrill, 52

14. Joe Mandano, 53

15. Richard Hall, 53

16. Maxx Jauch, 53

17. Rudy Reel, 53

18. David Torroni, 54

19. Dick Bartlett, 54

20. Brittney Torroni, 55

21. Leslie Hall, 55

22. Alana Morrill, 55

23. Lizzie Swan, 56

24. Jim Brett, 56

25. Curt Travers, 56

26. Leo Grippaldi, 58

27. Jax Brett, 62

28. Gina Scala, 63

29. Dawn Jauch, 66

30. Norah Morrill, 68

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