The Evster's Guide to an Enjoyable Mini Golf Experience

The Evster's Guide to an Enjoyable Mini Golf Experience

The place across from Boardwalk Hall in A.C., via atlanticcitynj.com

Let me just start by saying that I am not one of those über-serious miniature golf weirdos who feels the game needs to be played a "certain way" in order to have fun. This is mini golf for crying out loud -- a game played by children, adults, and sweaty disgusting teenagers who make out after every hole -- and should be played in whatever fashion that will bring you the most enjoyment out of your golfing experience.

In a country like this, where we are free to choose our own putters, and move the ball with our feet, and appear on an episode of HBO's Real Sex with golf balls jammed in our mouths, I am fine with you doing whatever you want. But if you want to stay TRUE TO THE GAME and respect this great nation of ours, it is important that we are all on the same page -- and follow a certain number of unwritten codes -- so that we can pass on our love of mini golf to the next generation of putt-putters. We cannot let this timeless American treasure be tarnished by a bunch of complete and total perv-jobs who have their erotic sex romps filmed for a late-night cable television program.

Because miniature golf is a family game!

And with family games, comes all sorts of differing opinions as to what types of behavior is acceptable. For example, my 6-yr-old cousin, Dennis, feels that it's totally okay for him to putt the ball while it's still moving, constantly tapping it around like a hockey player, and then turning to look at me when he finally gets it in the cup, thinking I should be excited that he got a "3". But Dennis is an asshole. That's no way to play mini golf, and you're not getting a 3, Dennis, you're getting a 6. Because you're not Mario Lemieux, you don't even know who Mario Lemieux is, and you didn't share your funnel cake with me last night even though I asked very nicely for a very small piece. So for this post, Dennis's, and other amateur's opinions, will not be taken into consideration. Only mine will. Because this is America. And in America, bloggers have all the power.

The first key to an enjoyable miniature golf outing is selecting the right course. Take a 3-block stroll down Ocean City's boardwalk and you will pass no fewer than 12 mini golf courses, each with their own little bells and whistles designed to draw you in. It is imperative that we support courses that are both challenging and innovative, while also providing a certain amount of mini golf amenities that we have grown accustomed to in this disgustingly rich and spoiled country. For example, a course does not necessarily need one of those little wooden podiums at every hole for you to lean on and add your score up (although what a bonus!), but it does need at least one goddamn bench for us to sit on when we get tired and cranky and sunscreen starts dripping into our eyeballs. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you which courses on Ocean City's boardwalk are worth playing, because I am absolutely terrified of that place -- SO MANY TEENAGERS -- but I can tell you what to look for and what to stay away from when scouting 'em out.

Nice gazebo, via tapmag.com

You want to play a course with a maximum amount of ridiculously large, stupid, googly-eyed ornaments (including windmills, ramps and erotic sex caves), because miniature golf is stupid. To hit your ball and have it disappear into some dumb fairy gorilla castle, and then dramatically reappear nowhere near the hole is dumb, but it's also amazing! The more elaborate the design, the more tunnels, and secret Snorkel Holes (I call them Snorkel Holes) the better. If a course has a pirate ship and caves and WATERFALLS, then bing bong you've hit the jackpot. This shows that the course owners TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR BUSINESS. Running water and rock canyons and gigantic palm trees are also a mega-whopper-super-bonus, serving as a sweet cooling oasis from the flaming ball of fire in the sky that will one day kill us all.

Back to Snorkel Holes, by far that greatest invention in the history of the sport, or hole designs where the ball goes in one hole, and shoots out another. Snorkel Holes are the best -- the feeling of watching your ball disappear into one cup and then sprinting down the hill to see where it pops out, can only be topped by the feeling of watching that ball roll in for an ace. Now, people who appear on a certain late-night cable television program will argue with you that this excitement pales in comparison to that of a certain other type of erotic ball play, but remember, they are sickos. That being said, it truly is amazing how comfortable those people are with their bodies, and I really feel like we, as Americans, could learn a whole heckuva lot from them if they could just stop being so disgusting for five minutes of their lives.

Of course, Snorkel Holes leads us to the age ole debate of whether or not you're allowed to scope out a Snorkel Hole before actually teeing off on that Snorkel Hole. If you ask my cousin Dennis, his fat dumb face will tell you that "Sure, Cousin Evan, it's just a game!" but I am here to tell you that this kid is WRONG, and it is totally unacceptable for you to place your ball into one of the holes before hitting it and seeing where it ends up. If you want to walk down the course, check it out, and see how the green is shaped before teeing off, fine, but any other type of reconnaissance mission-like behavior is strictly prohibited.

Unfortunately, Snorkel Holes are complicated to build and difficult to maintain, so in the mid-90s, a lot of course designers (mostly in the 'burbs) started to get away from the tubes and pipes and Snorkel Hole layouts that we so thoroughly enjoyed. These courses featured a lot more straight shots from the tee box to the hole, with little stupid shrubs and mulch and hills off to the side to distract us from the fact that it was just a stupid straight shot. This was an era of total bullshit. Just a bunch of money-grubbing Norwegian landscape architects (led by the infamous Nørfslven Vlüørvlensen), designing simplistic holes in an attempt to simulate executive office practice putting. This way, they could make money off of HONEST AMERICAN CONSUMERS LIKE US without actually investing in elaborate tube systems or GIGANTIC WHALES WITH FEET. But those Scandinavians will never see another one of my hard-earned American dollars. If you happen upon a course like this this summer, playing hole after hole with dumb, straight setups (and sand traps, and rocks, get those rocks off the course!), simply walk up to the counter, slam your putter into a fence, and refuse to pay for a goddamn thing. Your veiled threat won't really matter, because most mini-golf places make you pay before you play, but your family will respect you for being a total raging lunatic, which is really all you're going for these days anyway.

All respectable mini golf courses should end with a free game hole. If not, then the course owner is a communist. Even the worst round of golf, one where your little cousin beat you by four strokes BECAUSE HE CHEATS AND DON'T THINK I DIDN'T SEE YOU KICKING THE BALL, DENNIS, can be salvaged with an ace on the 18th. This is your chance to stick it to the world and say, "Yes, I paid for this 1/2 hour of entertainment, but I am NOT paying for it next time. And yes, I understand that I'm not going to be playing by myself next time, and will most likely be bringing my entire family back again and spending another 30 or so dollars, but one of us will play for free if I remember to bring my free game voucher. Now what did I do with that voucher? It's in the trash, isn't it? I threw it in the trash. Dag nabbit."

So there you have it, folks.

What you have? I'm not really sure. But I hope you've had a few minutes to sit and think about this great American pastime of ours, and how best to spend a shitty summer afternoon with your shitty family.

Honestly, you're probably better off going to the movies.

Despicable Me 2 seriously looks hilarious.

Those guys have googly-eyes.

Follow The Evster @TVMWW.

10 observations from Tuesday's Eagles OTAs

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10 observations from Tuesday's Eagles OTAs

The Eagles wrapped up their Tuesday practice just before 12:30 p.m. under a hot summer-like sun.

Tuesday was the first day of four in the team’s final week of OTAs, which are voluntary. The mandatory minicamp starts next Tuesday and runs through next Thursday.

That’s when we might see Fletcher Cox and Darren Sproles, both of whom have been staying away from the team during the voluntary period. And that’s where we’ll start with today’s 10 observations:

1. With Cox still out, Mike Martin was again working with the first team at defensive tackle next to Bennie Logan, as he was last week. Two weeks ago, Taylor Hart was next to Logan at tackle. Martin was a depth piece in Tennessee and that’s how he’ll fit with the Eagles once Cox comes back.

Martin was also involved in the first little scuffle we’ve seen during these spring practices. Nothing too exciting … just a little shoving with left guard Allen Barbre.

2. Sproles is still out, but Ryan Mathews returned. Mathews missed the last practice opened to the media with an illness but participated Tuesday. The interesting thing was that Mathews didn’t get all the first-team reps. In fact, Kenjon Barner actually opened the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 portions of practice with the first team.

It’s early, but Barner has looked pretty good this spring. It’ll be interesting to see if he fits with the team. He’s ahead of rookie Wendell Smallwood now, but would the team really elect to keep him over a fifth-round pick? Or will the team be OK keeping four running backs again?

Another note: Rueben Randle (gallbladder surgery) is still out.

3. We saw a little trickery from Doug Pederson’s offense on Tuesday against no defense. First, Chase Daniel threw a lateral screen to Josh Huff, who threw down the right to Smallwood. Then, Carson Wentz threw a lateral pass to Nelson Agholor and then Wentz ran a route down the left sideline, but Agholor overthrew him.

Maybe the trick plays are just way to keep practice lighter, but it might also mean the offense is moving along nicely and installing more and more of the playbook. It’s a good sign.

4. Wentz was up and down on Tuesday, but his best completion came on a deep pass down the right sideline to wideout Xavier Rush (who is a candidate for best name on the team). Rush wrestled the ball away from corner C.J. Smith, who should know Wentz pretty well. The two played together at North Dakota State.

Meanwhile, Sam Bradford had a shaky day, throwing several balls that could have been picked off.

5. Again, Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks — the two Jim Schwartz guys in the secondary — were working with the first team. On Tuesday, Eric Rowe was the extra corner on the field in the nickel. When Rowe came in, Brooks shifted into the slot. It still looks like Nolan Carroll isn’t yet allowed to practice during team portions.

On the first play of 11 on 11s, Brooks broke up a pass from Bradford that was then picked off by Rodney McLeod and taken the other way. Not a good throw from Bradford, but Brooks was aggressive and jumped it.

6. Down by the goal line during the team period, Malcolm Jenkins made a nice play to get in front of a pass, but couldn’t pick it off. He’s in midseason form. Jenkins had a great year in 2015, but really struggled to intercept balls that he had in his hands.

7. Jordan Hicks didn’t participate in 7 on 7s or 11 on 11s Tuesday. Two weeks ago, he sat out with tightness in his legs, but returned last week. On Tuesday, with Hicks watching, Najee Goode filled in at first-team MIKE, flanked by Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks.

8. Chase Daniel overthrew two balls badly within a few plays during the 11-on-11 drills, but then capped off a drive by dropping a ball into the hands of wideout Paul Turner in the back of the end zone. Decent day for Daniel.

9. The Eagles ran some scout team looks for the first time (that we’ve seen) on Tuesday. Daniel ran the scout team, which makes sense. Normally, it would be the third-string quarterback, but Wentz probably has plenty on his plate. Not sure whom the offense was mimicking, but the two pinnies were Nos. 88 and 82. Perhaps the Cowboys?

10. At one point on Tuesday, the offense started to use a tempo offense, giving everyone in attendance flashbacks to Chip. Well, not exactly. The up-tempo didn’t last long and it did produce the ugliest Wentz pass since he’s been with the team.

We are seeing plenty of interesting looks from the Eagles. At times they’ve been using formations with three tight ends. And they even showed some designed quarterback runs on Tuesday. The progression and complexity of this offense is starting to be revealed by these practices, and it’s something to keep an eye on.

Stupid Observation of the Day: Punter Donnie Jones has begun to wear a pretty sweet white and blue bucket hat at practice when he’s not wearing his helmet. Only a punter could get away with this. Here, you can see him in the background from last week.

Phillies-Nationals 5 things: Calling on Aaron Nola to stop 4-game skid

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Phillies-Nationals 5 things: Calling on Aaron Nola to stop 4-game skid

Phillies (26-25) vs. Nationals (31-21)
7:05 p.m. on CSN

The Phillies are in a rut, an expected rut given their recent schedule.

On Tuesday, they'll try to get back on track behind the young right-hander who's emerging as their stopper.

Let's take a look at the second of their 10-game homestand:

1. Not measuring up
The Phillies have lost six of their last seven games and are riding their first four-game losing streak since they started the year 0-4. Prior to last week, they'd done a decent job this season of avoiding lengthy skids, but this is definitely the toughest stretch they've faced in 2016.

Over these seven games, the Phils have been outscored 34-21 by the Tigers, Cubs and Nationals, three veteran teams filled with power. Two of the games have been decided by one run and the Phillies lost both after holding late leads. 

At 14-5, the Phils still have far and away the majors' best record in one-run games, but this is what regression looks like. Hector Neris wasn't going to go through a full season without a hiccup. And the best example of how unsustainably productive he's been was that even after allowing three runs in just two-thirds of an inning, Neris' ERA is still 2.20. It's difficult for a reliever to get hit around and still have that low an ERA, especially this early in the season.

If the Phillies lose again tonight, they'll be right at .500 for the first time since they were 10-10. They've spent the last 33 days of the season with a winning record.

2. Nola gets the nod
Jeremy Hellickson turned in his second straight excellent outing against the Nationals on Memorial Day and Aaron Nola looks to do the same.

Nola, like Hellickson, struggled the first time he faced Washington this season, allowing seven earned runs in five innings.

Nola, like Hellickson, rebounded the next time he faced the Nats — both allowed two hits over seven shutout innings in their second start against Washington.

Now Nola looks to build upon that success the way Hellickson did Monday night, when he lowered his own ERA to 3.68 by allowing a run on three hits over seven innings.

Nola is 4-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 10 starts this season. He's struck out 70, walked 12 and allowed five home runs in 66 innings. His opponents have hit .200.

Nola has missed more bats and struck out more batters at the major-league level than anyone expected. His control has been as advertised — he's walked just 31 batters in 143⅔ career innings. This season, he's cut his home run rate in half. He allowed 11 in 77⅔ innings as a rookie.

Nola continues to lead the National League with 242 called strikes, 17 more than Tanner Roark, who is second. That number speaks to the effectiveness of Nola's knee-buckling curveball, which has generated 65 swings-and-misses, second-most in the majors to Jose Fernandez's 77. (Jerad Eickhoff is third in the NL with 33.)

Current Nationals are 19 for 65 (.292) against Nola with two doubles, a triple, two homers and 18 strikeouts. Bryce Harper, who left Monday's game in the seventh inning after being hit by a pitch on the knee, is 6 for 10 with two of those home runs. Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon have also taken Nola deep.

3. Harper out?
Harper left the game in the seventh with what was diagnosed a right knee contusion. It would obviously be a huge relief for the Phillies if he's out of the lineup Tuesday, especially considering how he's hit lately at Citizens Bank Park.

Harper brought into Monday's game a streak of six straight games with a home run at Citizens Bank Park, tying the longest home run streak in MLB history for any player at a visiting stadium. 

Harper, who hit .330 last season, won an MVP and led the NL in practically every meaningful offensive category, has been in a lengthy slump. Over his last 32 games, he's hit .183 with just five extra-base hits in 133 plate appearances. Teams have stopped pitching to him. Harper has 35 walks over that span, nine intentional.

But Harper is obviously a threat any time he comes to the plate, and he's hit pretty much any pitcher the Phillies have thrown at him the last two years. In 104 plate appearances against them since the start of 2015, Harper has hit .346 with three doubles, 11 homers, 23 RBIs, 21 walks and 23 strikeouts.

4. Another crack at Ross
Nationals right-hander Joe Ross (4-4, 2.52) makes his 10th start of the season tonight against the Phils. He shut them down on April 15 in his second start, pitching 7⅔ shutout innings in his best outing of the year.

Ross has allowed one run or fewer in five of nine starts and two earned runs or fewer in seven of nine. He's given up more than three earned runs just once all season, on May 10 against the Tigers.

The younger brother of Padres opening-day starter Tyson Ross, Joe is mostly a three-pitch pitcher who throws a lot of sinkers and sliders. When he faced the Phillies earlier this season he threw 55 sinkers, 38 sliders and 14 changeups. 

Like his brother, Joe Ross loves the slider with two strikes, throwing it 73 percent of the time this season with two strikes on a right-handed hitter. His opponents this year are 16 for 92 (.174) against the slider with four home runs and 37 strikeouts.

Lefties (.295 BA, .757 OPS) have hit him much better than righties (.209, .598). Might that mean another start for Ryan Howard?

5. This and that
• Carlos Ruiz is 0 for 21 over his last six starts and is down to .222 on the season.

• Daniel Murphy had three more hits and drove in three runs against the Phillies last night. He's a .313/.363/.487 career hitter against them in 457 plate appearances. Playing in the NL East the last eight seasons, Murphy has hit lower than .293 just once vs. the Phils.

• Freddy Galvis, who homered off Roark on Monday, has hit well at home this season with a .284 batting average and .779 OPS in 85 plate appearances. Galvis is 12 for 33 (.364) over his last eight games overall with four doubles, a triple and a homer.

• Jonathan Papelbon has faced the Phillies six times since they traded him to the Nationals last summer. In those six games, he's allowed nine runs (six earned) and put 13 men on base. The Phils have seven hits (five doubles) against him in 2⅔ innings this season.

Source: Former Eagles safety Walter Thurmond retires at 28

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Source: Former Eagles safety Walter Thurmond retires at 28

Defensive back Walter Thurmond, who had a productive year with the Eagles in 2015 in his first season as a safety, is retiring at 28, a league source confirmed to CSNPhilly.com's Dave Zangaro.

The news of Thurmond's retirement was initially reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Thurmond was finally able to stay healthy in 2015. He played 16 games for the first time in his career, finishing with 71 tackles, three interceptions, two sacks and two forced fumbles. Thurmond and Malcolm Jenkins formed one of the NFL's better safety duos, but the Eagles upgraded the position even more by signing Rodney McLeod to a five-year deal.

Thurmond battled injuries throughout his six-year NFL career, missing 44 of 80 games over his first five seasons. A broken fibula cost him most of the 2011 season, he missed significant time in 2012 with a hamstring injury, and a torn pectoral limited him to two games in 2014.