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Theme "Snooker"

Designing Snooker courses around a certain theme keeps things fun and challenging. By Stuart Mah

Disney has EPCOT and The Magic Kingdom; Universal has "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" and Anheuser-Busch has Busch Gardens. All are theme parks. So what theme does USDAA have? Why, theme Snooker, of course!

What is theme Snooker? It's a Snooker course that has a definite theme or plot to their design. The course designs are based on an idea or topic that occurs on the specific date that the Snooker course is run. What occurs on that date might be an anniversary (Figure 1) such as the Apollo 11 moon landing, (sorry conspiracy fans, we really did land on the moon,) a specific discovery, event or even super hero (Figure 2), or a holiday (Figure 3). The course is then laid out to reflect this idea. In the case of the Apollo 11 landing, the course design takes the shape of Neil Armstrong's boot print.

Figure 1 - Apollo 11

Figure 2 - Superman

Figure 3 - Easter

So who started this crazy concept? Looks like all the fingers point to judge Tom Kula as the guilty party. Way back in 2006, Tom designed a Masters Snooker course to reflect the date that the course was run, which happened to be on the 4th of July. As Tom puts it, "It started with doing a show on a holiday and I thought, everyone loves fireworks on the 4th of July (except maybe our dogs), so I decided to do the fireworks thing." (Figure 4)

Figure 4 - The Firecracker
(The one that started it all!)

The idea is starting to catch on with more than a few judges who are now designing courses with specific themes. As Dave Bozak put it, "Not sure when I started, to tell the truth... I know I remember seeing a Kula margarita snooker at the Blackthorne once (a long time ago) - that was cool!" (Figure 5) 

Figure 5 - The Margarita

Why use themes as a basis for designing Snooker courses?

When asked, Dave Bozak replied, "I think, for me, coming up with the closing is key to a snooker course. I want something smooth, yet with challenges."

Where to come up with a closing? Patterns are handy, whether they come from a symmetric design or from some natural pattern or from a "theme" such as a birthday cake or American flag. Then, putting in the reds is usually not difficult. Dave Grubel also said, "I was just looking for a different challenge for design, as I was getting in a rut."  

So what topics can be used as a theme? Just about anything is fair game. Holiday theme courses are probably the most popular followed by birthday themes. A judge's imagination in designing a Snooker theme is as endless as there are ways to run a Snooker course. (Figures 6 -9)

Figure 6 - Star Trek

Figure 7 - American Bandstand

Figure 8 - A 21st Birthday

Figure 9 - Dr. Seuss

When asked where some of the more obscure dates came from, Tom Kula replied, "I have a number of web sites I go to, to learn the significance of a date. I usually save Snooker for the last course to design. I start with a clear head and look for ideas. It takes a while, sometimes hours, to find a topic and then the theme. Once that is done, the course is usually easy."

On the other hand, according to Dave Grubel, "As to future themes, it just kinda happens. Typically, devine inspiration..."

Some esoteric designs include the Ides of March (Figure 10) and the Scales of Justice (Figure 11).

Figure 10 - The Ides of March

Figure 11 - The Scales of Justice

Is the trend going to continue? According to Eric Quirouet after designing his first themed Snooker course, "This is my first, but probably not my last. I have wanted to do one for a while now, but just didn't jump into the pool. Depending on the club I'm judging for, I would eventually like to do every holiday." 

Here's a birthday-theme designed by Dave Bozak (Figure 12) for three friends who had birthdays at the same show and the actual course setup. (Figure 13) 

Figure 12 - Double Layered Birthday Cake

Figure 13 - the Birthday Cake Snooker theme set up and ready to run!

(Pretty festive looking if you ask me.)

Check back on Monday for more themed Snooker courses, including three courses designed specifically for the upcoming July 4th holiday.

Stuart Mah, a leading innovator of canine agility in the U.S., has been active in the sport since 1989. Stuart has excelled as a competitor and instructor and has competed at the highest levels of agility to include 15 USDAA Grand Prix finals and five AKC finals and has placed in the top three 9 times with 5 National Championship wins.  He has also been part of the winning Dog Agility Masters (DAM) team twice. His dogs are also continually ranked in USDAA Top Ten agility dogs. He has represented the U.S. nine times in international competition and has a collected 10 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze medals. USDAA designated him as Agility Person of the Year in 1995. He has five dogs in the USDAA Agility Hall of Fame as well as being in the Hall of Fame as a Pioneer of Dog Agility in 2004. Dogs that Stuart has owned have amassed over 500 agility titles including two diamond USDAA Lifetime Achievement Awards (LAAD), the highest titling award offered. He has written numerous articles for various publications on agility and has written two other agility books on the subject of agility, course design and course analysis. 

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Stuart Mah


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