Community Service

For me, one of the appeals of Sulzburg is the miniature golf course behind the city square. In an area sorely lacking in entertainment alternatives, the free course is a nice perk. IMG_20180408_1756224

Of course, the problem with free is that you get what you pay for. The course is in sad shape – I figure no upkeep has been done in 40 years, maybe longer. German mini-golf courses don’t use artificial turf like they do in North America, which makes the surface hard, and the obstacles are in sad shape.

At the second-hand store where we bought our furniture there was one lonely golf putter. I had them throw it in as a bonus since we were spending so much. Add in four balls that a friend brought from Canada, and we have entertainment for when friends come over – as long as people don’t mind sharing a putter. Mini-golf is a social game; it hasn’t been an issue as people wait for their turn.

In six months here I have never seen anyone else use the course. Mind you, I live a block away, so it isn’t as if I would notice. However, given the course condition, it seems I may be the only one in the village who uses it. I’m beginning to think of it as “my” course – and with ownership comes responsibility. IMG_20180407_1318148

Last week I was played with a couple of children; my wife works with their mother. The elder boy was I think about eight, and has taught myself English online, so we were able to communicate. His English is much better than my German (and I don’t speak a word of his native tongue).

He loved the outing, but I found it frustrating. My ball just wouldn’t go where I wanted it to. There was so much debris on the course.

So last Saturday mooring I headed out with a borrowed broom to sweep away the winter debris, the leaves, gravel, broken beer bottles and whatever else had accumulated. I’m sure there is someone from the village tasked with that, but it is probably not a high priority, given that no-one except me uses the course. (It could be a chicken and egg thing; if the course was maintained then maybe people would use it.)IMG_20180407_1318208

I didn’t do as good a job as I would have liked, but there were time constraints. Ideally each hole probably requires an hour’s sweeping to get rid of all the gunk. I averaged five minutes – sweeping doesn’t interest me unless there is a curling rock involved. And I will admit it was a little depressing to look closely and see just how much work is needed to bring the course up to the point where I would find it a joy to play.

I felt good about my bit of community service, but during that entire time out in the sun with the broom I was waiting for someone to come by and tell me to stop. I’m sure I must have been breaking some sort of rule by cleaning up the course without authorization. Germany has lots of rules and I don’t know them all yet

No-one did though, and the course is it its best shape since the first time we played in back in October. My score shot up though – I’ve learned to play with a debris strewn course and now have to remember not to hit the ball quite as hard on the concrete surface where there is nothing to slow it down. IMG_20180407_1344555

If I could just convince the city to pay for some Astroturf I would be really happy. I would even try and install it myself. That I just can’t see happening.

Remember though, if you ever pass through Sulzburg, I’m always looking for someone who wants to play mini-golf.

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