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Crazy golf couple spend 14 years clocking up nearly 1,000 courses

AN IRON-WILLED couple are set to putt themselves into the records books — by playing every crazy-golf course in Britain.

Richard and Emily Gottfried (pictured) have spent the past 14 years travelling the country to play nearly 1,000 mini-golf courses.

The potty pair have just recorded their 945th visit — including 39 overseas — and reckon they have another 250 to go.

The pair embarked on their epic journey in 2006 after playing a Treasure Island-themed round in Southsea, Portsmouth, and unexpectedly falling in love with the game.

Since then, the couple have spent many happy days at traditional British seaside destinations, such as Skegness, Hastings, Blackpool and Weston-super-Mare, chasing the unlikely record.

Marketing consultant Richard, 39, and 38-year-old Emily, who works in sales, have even taken part in a number of competitive crazy golf tournaments over the years.

Despite on average visiting more than one course a week, the dynamic duo still have 250 stops to go before staking their claim as the first people to visit every venue in the country.

Richard said: ‘It’s fair to say that Emily and I are addicted to mini golf.’

He cites the seaside charm of many courses; their classic look, often with windmills; and the couple’s competitive spirit for their love of the game.

‘I’m obviously the best, win most of the time… no, it is about 50/50,’ Richard joked.

‘We love the quirkiness of the courses and the fact people of all ages and sexes can compete on a level playing field,’ he said.

‘It’s a game that’s got something for everyone.’

Richard and Emily’s record attempt has taken them all over the country, from tournaments in Hastings to far-flung places such as the Isle of Man and Great Cumbrae, an island in the Firth of Clyde.

‘Addicted’: Richard at Putters Adventure Golf in Warrington PICTURES: SWNS

He said: ‘Whenever we’re away, whether it be on a day out or at a wedding, we always look for a nearby course to go and play at.

‘Emily and I have been to so many amazing places that we would never have visited before just to play at a course.

‘We’ve seen all sorts over the years and that’s thanks to mini golf.’

Richard said his favourite venues are the various Arnold Palmer putting courses dotted around the country, which have traditional greens with white borders.

He added that anyone looking to experience the broadest variety of courses should visit resorts around Skegness, where 20 are situated on a small stretch of coast.

The couple, who are from Stockport, Greater Manchester, say their obsession began shortly after they got their first car and started travelling the country for the first time.

The first course they played was in Southsea, during a visit to Richard’s brother at university in September 2006.

Where it all began: Richard on the Lucky Last Hole at the Treasure Island course in Southsea

Richard said: ‘We both grew up going on holiday to the seaside and had fond memories of playing mini golf when we were younger.

‘When we saw the course in Southsea we just thought, “Why not give it a go?”

‘Little did we know that it would be the start of something that would go on for the next 14 years and become a bit of an obsession.’

After returning home, which was in Luton, Bedfordshire, at the time, Richard searched online to discover there were 600 mini golf courses in the country.

The first crazy golf course in England opened in 1926, but up in St Andrews, Scotland, there is a course that’s been around since 1867.

Getting on for a century: Richard next to a sign for England’s oldest course

He said: ‘We thought, “Well, that will keep us busy for a while,” and decided there and then to try and visit every single one.’

But, since then, the mini golf industry has experienced an unexpected boom, with new indoor courses opening up at the rapid rate of one a week.

Richard said: ‘Recently we’ve been playing a lot more indoor courses, as they’re popping up all over the place, which is good for the game, I think.

‘They do tend to be different from traditional courses, but interesting in their own way and handy because they can be played at all times of year and in any weather.’

Richard and Emily hope to complete their quest within the next couple of years.

In the future they’d like to visit the resort of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, which boasts 50 courses and has been described as the Mecca of mini golf.