How 'adult-themed' crazy golf propelled GB to team pursuit gold

The riders swapped their bikes for putters, all in the name of bonding

British team pursuit team celebrate after winning in Paris at Track World Championships
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dan Bigham has brought a lot to the British men’s team pursuit squad. He’s an aerodynamics expert, he’s got the inside track on Filippo Ganna and he knows the perfect team-building joint. 

On Thursday, Bigham powered to his first ever world title, beating Italy in the team pursuit final with his teammates Ethan Hayter, Ethan Vernon and Ollie Wood at the Track World Championships

After the race, the quartet spoke of how important chemistry is to the discipline. Chemistry, it turns out, they built in an underground crazy golf bunker, located just two miles from British Cycling’s temporary home in Derby. 

Speaking to Cycling Weekly, men’s endurance coach Ben Greenwood said: “After one of the sessions, Dan said ‘so we’re going to play mini golf tonight then boys’, and the other lads were like ‘what do you mean mini golf?’

“Dan was like ‘right I’ve booked it, it’s a tenner each, you’re all coming.’ So off they went. That was the day before our hit-out effort in Derby.

“There was a lot of banter then between the riders and the staff about who won, who lost, who lost their heads. It turns out Dan wasn’t that good, even though he suggested it.”

The winner, the British coach reveals, was 19-year-old senior academy member Josh Giddings, who enjoys playing golf in his free time. Greenwood, however, left out a key detail in his account. 

"It was, shall we say, adult-themed," Wood told Cycling Weekly a little sheepishly, "which we weren’t aware of until we walked in." 

For Wood, the evening was an "eye-opener". 

“I had to show my ID to get in," the 26-year-old added. "I was wondering what the hell I was getting myself in for.”

A cursory Google search reveals the venue in question to be House of Holes, 'Derby’s very first ‘adult’ mini golf venue'. 

Though nondescript on the outside, the venue boasts a neon-painted interior, decorated with inflatable dolls and denuded shop mannequins.

Wood, now a team pursuit gold medallist, could only manage second in their 18-hole round, losing by a handful of strokes. It wasn’t about winning, though, he explains. 

“It’s just all about bonding. We’re like a band of brothers, we’ve spent God knows how many years [together]," Wood says. “Having a bond and doing stuff outside of just riding your bike is extremely important.”

In less than two years, the team pursuit squad will return to the velodrome in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines to compete at the Paris Olympics. Don’t be surprised to bump into them, putters in hand, the week before they travel. 

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