On two previous occasions television mistakes had changed the outcome of a Putt-Putt match. In one, the legendary Prince of Putt, Neil Connor, a piano tuner from Greenville, S.C., aced the 18th hole to defeat another former champion, Bob Williamson. At the time the TV cameras had not been turned on, and when they played the hole over, Williamson aced and Connor missed.
However, "There is never malice," says Williamson, "because we don't have anything to say about it. We know the risks. It's hard to believe, but the money isn't that important to us. We care more about how Putt-Putt looks."
Fortunately—although a couple of holes did have to be replayed for the camera—nothing serious happened in Fayetteville last week. The whole affair did take on the look of a green-and-orange fantasy with Clayton as director and Ricky Smith, Vance The Lance and all spectators as so many untutored actors. The galleries were earnestly solicited with offers of free soft drinks and gently plied with Clayton's tributes of "Folks, you're just a beautiful gallery, but would you please get your shadows off our carpets?"
Smith, The Ace Machine, said he would use his winning purse of $15,000 "to pay for a few semesters" and to start his own Putt-Putt at home in Indianapolis. Undoubtedly he will take the words of Don Clayton with him. As written to all prospective owners of miniature-golf courses, they are:
"...If you would like to be a part of the most wonderful industry that God has ever allowed to prosper in this land, we invite you to contact Putt-Putt Golf Courses.... $100,000 a year? If God gave you the mind and the health and the strength and the years in which to accomplish it, it can be accomplished for you and for your loved ones through Putt-Putt."