Competition was at an all-time high during the inaugural Impact Wrestling Mini-Golf Championship on Saturday, Jan. 13 at Congo River Golf.
The event was offered to fans who purchased the VIP experience for the six days of Impact TV tapings at Universal Studios Florida.
The VIPs teamed with stars Eli Drake, Moose and Taya Valkyrie, and Ohio Versus Everything (oVe) members Dave Crist, Jake Crist and Sami Callihan. They went through 18 holes of zaniness with top-scoring fans receiving Impact swag. Drake was no dummy, taking the game very seriously, using his finger to making sure conditions were ideal before each stroke.
When fellow Impact performers tried to move him along, Drake took his time.
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“This is a delicate process,” he said.
The strategy paid off, as he bested his cohorts, winning the tee off final round and adding mini-golf champion to his resume.
Drake’s playing partners included Doisy Felipe and his family from Miami. They have been attending VIP experiences from the company since 2010 including Bound for Glory in Daytona Beach. He will never forget sharing a drink with Ric Flair, James Storm and Bobby Roode.
“They always make it so much fun, which is why I always take my daughters,” he said. “They are big wrestling fans. I’ve been one since I was 8 and wanted to join the WCW Power Plant, but my mom didn’t have the money to send me.”
Now an adult, he has enough money to do this.
“Eli has really made it fun and is really personable,” Felipe added. “He does a good job interacting.”
Jake Crist was runner-up in the wrestlers’ division. In the team category, Sami Callihan’s group finished first, which included Amber Bailey, who was also the individual winner of the VIPs.
Each hole garnered the opportunity to “spin the wheel, make the deal,” with some unique trick shots. Dave Crist tried putting with the putter behind his back. Moose, a former NFL football player, did well going the traditional route. The Moose took time to overcome a fear by interacting with a baby gator later in the morning.
Meanwhile, Valkyrie tried not hitting the ball so hard, so it didn’t fly into the water.
“It’s funny because I literally don’t remember the last time I played mini-golf,” she said. “I was a young kid. Maybe 10. They don’t really have mini-golf in Mexico.”
Trina Villasis, who made the trek from San Francisco, looked forward to being paired with the Impact Knockout. She came to the tapings and participated in the VIP experience in support of stars like oVe.
“I’ve been following them and their careers for years,” she said. “They are from Dayton and are big when I followed the Midwest wrestling scene. I went to the tapings in Ottawa, but this is really amazing in terms of fan experience. When other promotions try to do things for fans, they do after parties or something like that. But you never get this access in such a fun setting. It’s a good time. I was excited to pair with Taya because I’ve been to other events she has been featured, but I never got to hang out with her like this.”
Another in the same group, David Cohen of Staten Island, has supported Impact Wrestling since their weekly pay-per-view days in Nashville. He came to Florida for the series of events and to spend time with his family.
“I think this is definitely up there for fan experiences because it’s not just a fan fest atmosphere,’ he said. “It’s a chance to get up close and personal and hang out with the wrestlers.”
If there is one thing Impact Wrestling has done well, it’s providing quality fan-friendly encounters. Staff and talent work hard to make sure everyone leaves with a smile on their face and fond memories to reflect.
- Impact Wrestling is wrapping up its series of TV tapings at Universal Studios Florida on Sunday, Jan. 14 and Monday, Jan. 15 in Orlando. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Free seating is first come, first serve.
- Watch Impact Wrestling 8 p.m. ET Thursdays on Pop TV.
- Pro Wrestling on the Web and Social Media