I think we were all worried. Office mini golf had become an important tradition at Labconco, and when Mark Schmitz retired, the genius behind our pop-up mini golf courses seemed irreplaceable. But fate has a way of turning lemons into lemonade at Labconco. Enter Tori Fincham.
Tori is a self-labeled introvert, so when she started working here as a product engineer, it was hard to tell that she was actually enjoying it. As a result, and much to her horror, she was thrown onto the Activities Committee so she would be forced to have fun at the office.
The Activities Committee needed a replacement genius to be the brains behind our mini golf courses for two reasons: to support our annual United Way fundraiser, and perhaps just as importantly, because it’s fun. Being the only genius engineer on the Activities Committee, Tori was volun-told into action. “Tori, can you scrounge up a few golf putters for the event?” they asked. Tori returned the next day with no fewer than fifteen putters. “Wow, that is amazingly resourceful, Tori! Now, can you find us a few dozen golf balls?” they said. Tori returned forthwith toting a giant jar stuffed with dozens of fun multi-colored golf balls.
Impossible, you say? But it’s true! By coincidence, it turns out that Tori’s dad collects golf clubs and golf balls. We can thank Curt Fowler for the seemingly bottomless cornucopia of golfing supplies. He handpicked all of his most colorful finds so we at Labconco could have a more authentic mini golf experience, and he more-or-less permanently loaned us all the putters he could spare.
But that’s not the end of the story. With the stress of designing several new and intriguing mini golf holes every few months, Tori had more fun on her hands than she could handle. So, in her third season of golf course designing, she came up with a brilliant idea. Why not recruit people from all over Labconco to design the golf course? Like a fence-painting Tom Sawyer, she told us all how much fun the job was. Then she turned it into a contest and allowed players to vote on their favorite hole.
Thanks to Tori and the Activities Committee, instead of losing our tradition, it’s now become an institution. We have expanded office mini golf to twice a year, and more people participated this fall than ever before. The opportunity to play is now tied to our $5 jeans day to benefit United Way, so the event has become a successful fundraiser.
Tori even designed a very cool trophy for the event. The winners (image above) with the bragging rights and the traveling trophy for Best Hole Design this fall were our Sales Engineering team. Their “ZOOconco” hole design was filled with stuffed animals, and everyone loved that they built it outdoors (image below). Runner-up went to “Haunted Lean Lagoon” designed by The Lean team.
The golfers with the best scores this fall were perennial challenger Dwain Doherty with 33 strokes (first), Allan Lawrence and Katie Skibinski with 40 strokes each (tied for second). We even had a jar of golf tees for a fun guessing game. The winner for guessing the number of tees in the jar was also Allan Lawrence, who walked off with two prizes. Allan’s guess was very close at 194 (the actual number of tees in the jar was 199).
Now that your competitive juices are flowing, and you’re salivating for a trophy of your own, Tori has a few pointers to share for designing a popular and entertaining mini golf hole. “Remember that people don’t really love a tough challenge,” she says. “What they really like is the feeling of accomplishment. The golf holes that get the most rave reviews are the ones where the ball travels a long way on one stroke. Extra points if the course helps to guide your ball in the right direction, and if the ball disappears from sight, like around a corner or under a bridge, then shows up again very close to the hole. It’s fun for the ball to jump or loop-the-loop, but only if it really works to the player’s advantage almost every time.”
See you all on the links!
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