It’s a curious thing is ‘eccentricity’. Us middle agers, as we hit the crisis, with scant little to look forward to besides working, hospital appointments and death, often brace the left field obscure as a way of adding a little seasoning to our chi. Quite often it is undertaking activity with a mindset of ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks’ which is a good place to be, as image takes second place to self-actualisation and truly doing what is best, on a selfish level, for oneself in that moment in time.

For some it may be stripping off and partaking in a naked bike ride (and no I’m not: as a cyclist, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone and would be worried as to unnecessary chafing). For others it is entering a marathon dressed as a crustation or getting an instantly regrettable tattoo of some mistranslated ancient scripture on the knave of your back. Yet one that has appealed to me personally is none of the above, but that of the World Crazy Golf Championships which have taken place annually in my birthplace, Hastings, since 2003 at HAG (Hastings Adventure golf).

With entrants from the USA, New Zealand and Hungary, there is £1,250 for the winner along with a prize pot of a further £1,750.

Despite having little interest in golf and having never caught the bug, I have played the crazy golf championship course many times as I hoof the ball as hard into the windmill as possible, with the sole intention of trying to lose the ball for some peculiar reason. The 19th hole offers a chance, if you can hit the ball up a ramp into a hole, to get a further free game. As a kid, and with snooker as my sport, I worked out that, if the attendant wasn’t looking, you could cue a golf club and hit the hole thus winning a further round, but I digress.

Many years ago, I ended up having a drunken conversation with the former world CG champion in the Jenny Lind pub in Hastings. He explained he took it seriously, but not as seriously as ‘the Germans’ who, he claimed, were full-time crazy golfers, in the German military, and who had their own ‘tour bus’. I recounted this story to my wife when I looked on forlornly from the shires having seen the gently mocking news stories advertising this year's tournament, but then, with a huge dash of jealousy, I realised an old friend of mine, Matt Voss, had actually gone and entered.

Matt, a building contractor, living in Bexhill, decided to take the plunge ‘for a laugh’. Being an avid golfer, it was not much of a stretch, and he arrived resplendent in his golfing finery. Having finished seventh in the novice event, in his inaugural entry, he now finds himself hovering around the world’s top 50 crazy golfers, which is no mean feat. He explained ‘lots of entrants took it incredibly seriously. The guy in front would stand on the hole after he had putted to stop us playing as he tried to stay ‘in the zone’ for the next hole. As a percentage, 90 per cent took it very seriously indeed with many wearing bespoke kits, having sponsorship and some even having CG tattoos.

There were even supporters who had travelled to support their favourite crazy golfer although Matt stopped short of classing them as ‘groupies’. Asked if he enjoyed it, he said ‘it was a really lovely event and I’m 100 per cent going back next year, although I won’t be pursuing a career in it as I don’t think my back could take it…’

And there in lies the nub with eccentricity. Folk like Matt, as he chalks up the years, has thrown his hat into the ring and gone for it with a tale to tell his grandkids as he cements his place in family eccentricity history. Yet, when given the option of entering further events, aging slaps us around the chops to bring us back to our senses.

Yet, in lieu of being a fully paid up ‘crazy’ golfer, I am still jealous of Matt for his entry and, maybe, just maybe, I will dig a hole or 18 in the garden, buy a putter and see him on the tee on Hastings seafront in 2024 as another bucket list event gets ticked off right after I’ve broken my leg by chasing that huge roll of cheese somewhere down a field in the West Country…

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher