Caddyshack Meets The Big Chill: The Leuka Mini Masters Returns

It's that time of year again, where London’s best par-3 course is turned into a golfing fun park...with added Jagermeister shots.
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It's that time of year again, where London’s best par-3 course is turned into a golfing fun park...with added Jagermeister shots.

Sometimes we describe it as ‘Caddyshack meets The Big Chill’. On other occasions we like to call it ‘The summer’s best garden party’. If we’re feeling really bold, however, we go large and insist it’s ‘Golf’s unofficial 5th Major’. The Leuka Mini Masters, hosted by Dougray Scott, is a unique mixture of boutique music festival, tongue-in-cheek celebrity par-3 golf tournament and charity fund-raiser, and according to Jimmy Nesbitt, who has never missed one, “it’s the best day of the year - bar none.”

Now in it’s fourth year, the event takes place at Dukes Meadows Golf & Tennis in Chiswick, without doubt London’s best par-3 golf course. For one day only, an area that normally resembles an exquisitely manicured garden is transformed into a golfing fun park, complete with a big screen beaming action from the tournament, pop-up bars and gourmet food stalls and spectators enjoying the chilled out, decidedly unstuffy vibe.

But other than the fact this is golf with a smile on its face and its glass fully charged, the biggest difference between the Leuka Mini Masters and other celebrity golf tournaments is probably the Jagermeister festival stage we set up on the 9th tee. In 2010, the tournament was rocked by The View, Alan Pownall and Futures while this year, six live bands, including Goldheart Assembly, James Walsh of Starsailor and Glastonbury new talent winners Treetop Flyers, will be providing the sunny acoustic vibes from 12.30 to 6pm. Until you’ve played golf to music, you simply don’t know how good it is.

For one day only, an area that normally resembles an exquisitely manicured garden is transformed into a golfing fun park, complete with a big screen beaming action from the tournament, pop-up bars and gourmet food stalls.

“The Leuka Mini Masters is unlike anything else,” says Dougray Scott, tournament host and star of ‘Mission Impossible II’, ‘Desperate Housewives’ and, most recently, the BBC drama ‘United’. He’s right. The event was born out of a conversation one autumn morning at Richmond Golf Club. Dougray has been a patron of Leuka, a pioneering leukaemia charity based at London’s Hammersmith Hospital, since making the film ‘Ripley’s Game’, in which he played a man suffering from chronic myeloid leukaemia. The St Andrews native was keen to do a golf-related fund-raiser for the charity and asked whether I had any ideas. Funnily enough, I did.

I have been involved in organising comedy short golf tournaments for some time. For the last 10 years, David Ford, a good friend and scratch golfer, has been transforming the land around his parent’s North Devon farm into an utterly fiendish par-3 course for his annual Ford Classic. Competitors at Royale Cabbage Patch Golf Club, as his course is known, are required to don fancy dress, consume copious amounts of alcohol and play out of trees, over barns and from rough deep enough to lose people in, let alone clubs. A pumping sound system and a warped sense of humour are the only other pre-requisites for this festival of extreme short golf.

A few years ago, we took this concept on the road with the Cabbage Patch Masters. Two coachloads of regular, irregular and novice golfers left the Soho branch of Urban Golf one Saturday morning clad in loud trousers and visors and bound for a private pitch & putt course in Kent. Awaiting them on arrival was a marquee, a jumbo sound system, BBQ and plastic bins everywhere brimming with ice-cold beers. The event was won by a complete beginner, which chimed with our ethos of trying to make golf fun, sexy and accessible for all.

The Leuka Mini Masters is the Cabbage Patch on steroids (or more accurately, a potent mix of champagne, cocktails and Jagermeister shots). We stage it at Dukes Meadows because we want the event to be sociable, intimate and different – like a garden party with a madcap celebrity golf tournament going on in its midst. Close to the centre of London, the course is a gem, immaculately presented and with USGA-specification putting surfaces that run like the bikini-waxed greens at Augusta. And while people presume a layout with a longest hole of 150 yards might be a pushover, we set the pins in positions tough enough to ensure not even the European Tour professionals who occasionally play ever get anywhere near par.

The Leuka Mini Masters is the Cabbage Patch on steroids (or more accurately, a potent mix of champagne, cocktails and Jagermeister shots).

Perhaps the biggest accolade the event has received is the fact so many people come back year after year. The Leuka Mini Masters Hall of Fame, reserved for those who have participated on three occasions or more, already includes Jimmy Nesbitt, Rob Brydon, Phil Glenister and Diana Dougherty of Sky Sports. This year, they will be joined by the likes of Tim Lovejoy, Gianluca Vialli, Gabby and Kenny Logan and Olympians Mark Foster and Steve Backley. Other luminaries who have set off in pursuit of The Gold Jacket, awarded to the winner, include Hugh Grant, Jason Isaacs, Ronan Keating, Les Ferdinand and the doyen of pro-celebrity himself, Jimmy Tarbuck.

As well as great celebs, we’ve also been lucky enough to be supported by major brands such as OMEGA, adidas/TaylorMade, Jaguar, BMW, Alfred Dunhill, Betfair, Asahi and Bing. One of our main sponsors for 2011 is Ryder Cup star and double World Matchplay champion Ian Poulter, who is providing shirts from his IJP Design clothing range and will appear as a virtual commentator on the big screen. (Poulter will be busy on July 15thplaying in the Open Championship at Royal St George’s but has put up an amazing auction prize of a trip for three to Florida to play with him at the super exclusive Lake Nona Golf & Country Club). The reason these companies and individuals get involved? The Leuka Mini Masters is genuinely different, a day where it’s not only the celebrities who are treated like stars.

So, if you want to come down to our garden party cum music festival meets miniature golf tournament, clear the diary and head to west London on the afternoon of Friday July 15th.

Tickets are available at £20 each, in advance on www.seetickets.com or on the day at the gate.

The doors open at noon with the first band on at 12.30pm. We’ll have a fully stocked bar waiting for you, great live music and plenty of well-known faces having fun while trying to come to terms with the fact they’re being made to look foolish on a course small enough to fit into the car park at Sandwich.

If you’re unable to make it on the day, you can follow the event at www.leukaminimasters.com, on Twitter at @MiniMastersGolf or via the Hawksbee & Jacobs Show on talkSPORT (they’ll be broadcasting live from the balcony of the clubhouse from 1-4pm). If you like the sound of what we do, you could always donate to Leuka at JustGiving/leukaminimasters2011.

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