Can You Beat Biggy?

Two Holes on the Back Nine the Undoing for Southern Teachers

By David Biggy | Jul 24, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Steve Derion swats his opening putt on the fourth hole of the ‘Cave Course’ at Settler’s Mill Adventure Golf in Beach Haven as Andrew Wright observes his Southern Regional High School colleague’s technique on July 18.

Beach Haven — Last summer, Steve Derion and Andrew Wright were part of a group that played at every miniature golf venue on Long Beach Island in one day. It was a friendly competition to see who would come out on top as the LBI champ for the year.

So when the Southern Regional High School teachers and golfing buddies saw the “Can You Beat Biggy?” challenge just before school ended in June, they were instantly on board. Two days before our July 18 clash, I texted Wright with the location of our match.

“I liked our chances anywhere, because we play a lot,” Wright said of playing on the "Cave Course" at Settler’s Mill Adventure Golf, which operates as part of Thundering Surf in Beach Haven. “But when I told Steve where we were playing, I know he didn’t like it too much.”

Derion later explained his philosophy regarding the Settler’s Mill courses compared to others.

“It seems luck is a bigger factor on this course. You tee off and hope you can get into a position for a good second putt,” he said. “On some courses, you hit the ball at a certain spot, or you’re putting through an obstacle, and there’s a clear target toward the hole. Give me a target that I can go after, and that’s where I’m better.”

Regardless, I had to take Wright and Derion seriously. They sure as heck weren’t going to take it easy on me, and on a course in which every hole is a par-2 none of us were going to have a distinct advantage.

After five holes, Derion led the way by a stroke. However, the sixth hole posed an immediate problem for me after I didn’t hit the ball well enough from the tee-off area – the first goal is to hit your ball up a ramp and over a stream – and it plopped into the water for a stroke penalty. I ended up with a 5 and fell behind Derion by four strokes.

Fortunately for me, Derion botched a couple of putts on No. 8 and after two-stroking the next two holes I was back in the match. Still, Derion’s hole-in-one on No. 9 gave him a 23 for the front nine, while Wright was a stroke back and I trailed by two. But then we reached the point that has become my bread and butter – the back nine.

Wright took the lead from Derion on the 12th, after Derion scored a 4 and Wright had scored a trio of 2s. Two holes later, Derion regained the lead when Wright was forced to take a 6 after a few putts from short range didn’t work out well. Derion still had the lead by a stroke after the 15th, despite me dropping 2s on five of the six holes to that point.

But the 16th was where the tide shifted ever so slightly. Derion missed a 4-foot putt on his third shot and ended up with a 4, while I scored a 3 to even the match. On the 17th, Derion shot a 3, and I grabbed my first lead since the first hole with a 2.

On the 18th, I bungled an easy 3-footer on my second shot for a 3 and a final tally of 46, giving Derion the chance to tie me with a 2 and force a playoff. His first shot took a slight bounce off the rail and got stuck behind one of the wagon wheel obstacles. He ended up with a 3 and a final score of 47. Wright finished with a 48.

“I didn’t think a 4-footer would be the end for me, but it was,” he said. “But still, you gave me a window on the 18th, to at least tie, and I choked. I tried to run the same shot you did and I got hung up on the wheel.”

Nonetheless, Wright and Derion enjoyed the chance to play more mini-golf on the Island.

“This challenge you have going is a great way to spotlight the local businesses and bring the community together for some fun. Mini-golf on LBI is one of those things you have to do. It’s supposed to be fun and this was fun.”

— David Biggy

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