Tin Cup

I may have previously shared the game Tin Cup with you as I toyed with the golf scoring theme. The game represents a refinement of Stuart Mah’s old Miniature Golf documented in Clean Run Magazine and the Book of Agility Games. This adaptation is more like the real game of golf; sans whackadoodle scoring conventions. You can be just like the weekend hacker whacking his way tortuously down the fairway.


The dog will be restarted at a faulted obstacle (or any point previous); and take a one stroke fault. The game will subscribe to USDAA Masters rules for performance. Note: any dog being trained for a 2o2o will be faulted for leaving the teeter without the handler’s release.

Tin Cup is scored strokes only. Lowest number of strokes wins. The game is not timed. The stroke limit for any hole is 9. The handler may give up at any time and take the 9 strokes; or allow the dog to earn them honestly.

A handler will be allowed to take a single Mulligan’s on any hole. We’ll interpret this to mean that the handler may retry the entire hole with his dog.

Hole #1

Hole #2

Hole #3

Hole #4

Hole #5

Hole #6

Hole #7

Hole #8

Hole #9

Psycho Thriller

I return from the Pawsitive Partners trial USDAA trial with a lower Q percentage than I’ve had with a dog in over 20 years. I remember very well that weekend with Winston, long gone now; after a rocky showing at West Valley Dogsports. That one put me in a blue funk with my sorely bruised ego; inspiring me to sulk and behave like a petulant child.

This time’s different. I’m happy to note that I’m a more mature character. The only commonality between the two weekends 22 years apart is that each represented the first weekend in the USDAA Advanced class with a young dog. On the drive home I was in general ecstatic with Kory’s skills and work ethic. At no point did he know we’d messed anything up. Motivation is job #1.

The Indy trial with very technical Scott Chamberlain courses leaves me knowing exactly what it is I need to do. This week’s game is a direct reflection of the plan of action. The sequences have technical moment after technical moment in a tortuous grind of bad flow and dictated management of the dog; often without enough real estate to solve properly.

The game as designed is a real psychological thriller. On any fault the handler has to stop; take the penalty stroke; and then continue from that point. I should apologize to my students because this particular set of equipment was designed expressly for an element of work I need to do with my boy Kory. The teeter was killing us on the weekend; so if he didn’t hold his 2o2o it allowed me to stop (take the penalty stroke) and continue. Consequently it provides an excellent opportunity to have a training moment.

But Tin Cup is not a teaching game… it’s a learning game. There’s no entertainment round and there’s no ad infinitum lah de dah sequence and practice do-over. It becomes a perfect encapsulation of the pressure of competition as we experience it in the real world.

As an instructor this too is useful to me, to see every response of every student to every moment of both success and flaw. It’s not just a matter of training the dog (thought that doesn’t hurt). The handler’s game face is always a fascinating study.

I’m very sorry Rene was absent on the evening! She’d have won the pie.

We only got through 5 holes of the game in something like 2-1/2 hours. I’m going to get Kory out this afternoon and work the last four. I have to make some modest changes of the floor for our Beginner and Advanced Beginner students this evening. It’s nearly impossible to even find good flowing sequences given the cruel set of equipment.

Bud’s Google-Proof Trivia Contest

According to Gordon Ramsey what are the three most important things in the restaurant business?


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. Be sure to check out my distance training series: The Jokers Notebook; an (inexpensive) elaboration and improvement on the work I did in Go the Distance.


4 Responses to “Tin Cup”

  1. mariann jackson Says:

    quality, quality, quality.

    do you have any decleration excerises listed in the archives?

    sometimes you learn a lot when you don’t q.

    • budhouston Says:

      Well, I had it as customers, customers, customers. But to tell you the truth, it could be that it’s just a habit of hyperbole with Gordon that he’ll say “The three most important things… ” and then fill in the blanks with the thing he’s trying to make a point about. I’ll watch it a little closer to see if I can catch it.


  2. beekeeper69 Says:

    Bud, I never would have pictured you as a Gordon Ramsay fan!

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