THERE have been many epic grudge matches throughout history.

Celtic versus Rangers. Muhammad Ali skipping round George Foreman in the boxing ring. Donald Trump going toe-to-toe against everyone on Twitter who isn’t Donald Trump.

But none of these slam-bam squabbles compares to a certain battle of the giants that took place roughly 40 years ago in a leafy suburb of a Scottish town.

That was where a small boy with curly blond hair and wide beseeching eyes (imagine Oliver Twist, though cuter, far cuter) took on an older athlete in a tennis match to the death. Okay, not quite to the death, though it did last until teatime.

That small boy was me. (The hair’s no longer blond and curly, though I’m still adorable.) And the older athlete? It was my mother, Linda Jackson.

After much pestering, she had agreed to play me a game of tennis in the road outside our terrace house. We didn’t have a net. Or professional equipment, just toy rackets with strings as taut as tadpole nets.

Also, since we were playing on the road, we had to duck and dodge a succession of cars zooming down the middle of Centre Court.

This distracting element to the match was undoubtedly the reason I eventually lost, even though I was clearly the more elegant, dynamic and just plain talented athlete.

Since then I’ve lost various contests to mum. (Or the Nemesis, as I now think of her.) Games of Snakes & Ladders. Ludo. Monopoly.

The Nemesis doesn’t win these trials of strength and aptitude because she’s a better sportsperson, of course. She wins because, during that fateful tennis match, she managed to burrow inside my head, and she’s been rattling my rhythm and messing with my finely tuned equilibrium ever since.

And the more she wins, the more I hunger for sweet, sweet revenge.

Which explains why I happen to be brandishing a putting iron in Glasgow city centre, stealing myself for a winner-takes-all game of mini-golf.

“Ooh, this’ll be fun, won’t it?” says the Nemesis, doing her oh-so-typical impersonation of a kindly, five-foot-one retired bank clerk from the South Side of Glasgow.

But I know her wily tricks of old.

“No talking on the field of combat,” I growl, marching to the first hole.

At this point I should probably describe the layout of our gladiatorial arena, Jungle Rumble Adventure Golf on Bath Street.

It looks sort of like the Old Course at St. Andrews … if the Old Course at St Andrews looked nothing like the Old Course at St Andrews.

For instance, St Andrews has rolling fields of verdant splendour. Jungle Rumble doesn’t have anything like that, though it does have an almost life-size elephant towering over one hole and a camper van blocking the route to another.

It also has skeletons in pirate costumes and holes that screech scornful comments when you miss a put.

Regular golf is a daytime sport, but Jungle Rumble is open early in the morning until late, and it takes place in the dark, with neon painted objects throbbing around you, like a multicoloured migraine.

The overall impression is that you’ve accidentally stumbled into the head of a tripped-out John Lennon, circa 1967. Meanwhile loud music roars and bores into your brain - everything from Meat Loaf to Willy Nelson.

It’s a slurry of surreal images, slippery surfaces and sloshing noise. And I’m at an immediate disadvantage, of course, as the cacophony of caterwauling crooners threatens to put me off my stroke.

“Lovely tunes they’re playing,” says the Nemesis, in a thinly veiled attempt at gamesmanship.

I ignore her and hit the ball.

At this point in the narrative, I should probably use my reporting skills to describe my putting stroke. But even Shakespeare, Milton and Peter Alliss, combined, would be hard-pressed to arrive at an apt metaphor to truly reflect the poetry, the majesty, the celestial glory of me whacking a small dimpled ball.

But more important than my killer technique, after a couple of holes I’m winning!

No, not just winning. I’m destroying my opponent, crushing her in the palm of my hand.

“Good shot, son!” says the Nemesis, attempting to lull me into a false sense of security.

Ha! As if.

I stride onwards, like Edmund Hillary making an assault on the summit of Mount Everest. Okay, I’m only strolling up a gentle incline towards the next hole. But, hey, it’s dark in here. I could give my ankle a nasty dunt if I don’t watch out.

As the contest progresses, the Nemesis starts to eat into my once impressive lead. Though I’m not unduly concerned, because, unbeknown to her, I managed to do a little homework prior to the game. The previous day I ‘accidentally’ interviewed the key people most intimately involved in the course we’re playing.

Regrettably Kelly Meharry, the general manager of Jungle Rumble, proved as helpful as a seven-iron made out of freshly boiled spaghetti.

“I’m rubbish at mini-golf!” she admits. “My best score is up in the fifties.”

Kelly plays every new member of staff to induct them into the ways of the course, and to a man and woman, they have beaten her.


So will she get the sack if she doesn’t improve?

“I think everyone quite likes it, because I make the customers look good,” she says.

Even Kelly’s eight-year-old niece managed to annihilate auntie. “The first time I let her win, because she’d never played before. But then she genuinely beat me.”

And did Kelly have a tantrum?

“Too right! I won’t play with her anymore.”

Meanwhile, back at the match, the Nemesis is now trailing me by only (gulp!) one point. Perhaps she’s cheating. Not that I’ve seen her cheat. In fact, she looks entirely innocent. Which makes me even more certain she’s cheating. After all, don’t the most nefarious scallywags always appear innocent?

I’m still feeling fairly confident, however, because during my pre-match research I also managed to chat to Angus Wright, the 51-year-old owner of Jungle Rumble. Angus trained as a lawyer at Glasgow University, lives in St Andrews where he has a residents’ ticket to play the Old Course, and also enjoys sailing.

Which makes him sound like a traditional sort of chap.

Yet he has been building defiantly daft mini-golf courses across the UK since launching the Jungle Rumble concept 12 years ago.

Does he also play the game? “When I was researching mini-golf, I visited a place called Myrtle Beach,” he says. “It’s a sort of mini golf Mecca. I played two hundred holes in 24 hours, and haven’t felt the urge to play much more since then.”

Angus also designs the holes for his courses, though he doesn’t rely entirely on his own imagination.

“There’s a trade show for amusement park operators I attend every year,” he explains. “Imagine a hall the size of Murrayfield, with all the latest rollercoasters, arcades and special effect ideas. It’s a pretty mad couple of days.

“After the show I spend a few days going through everything I’ve seen, and then have to persuade my contractors they can build what I want.”

Angus has a good team behind him. When not working on his golf courses, they helped devise the fantasy sets for Game of Thrones, the TV show famous for outlandish and brutal deaths.

Talking of which, I’ve now managed to slay my own personal dragon.

Eighteen holes have been played, and the Nemesis is… defeated!

I’ve never been one to crow, or act in an unseemly manner, however, I do treat myself to a five-minute victory dance while whooping and hollering in the Nemesis’s face.

“Well done, son!” she says, doing an excellent job of hiding her bitterness and fury, before adding: “Fancy a spot of lunch?”

“If you’re paying,” I reply.

Which she does, of course. Though I can’t believe I had to ask.

With this constant level of antagonism, I’m regularly astounded that I grew up to be such a kind, generous and well-rounded individual.