Lindsay Hodgins is a world champion, but she doesn’t have much to show for it.
The 22-year-old from Duncan won the 2019 National Horseshoe Pitching Association World Tournament in Wichita Falls, Texas earlier this month, but the trophy she received for her accomplishment was so massive, she had to leave it behind and have it shipped home later.
“We already brought two home when she was a junior,” Lindsay’s grandfather and coach, Wayne Hodgins, explained. “So we know what it’s like to take them apart and bring them on the plane.”
A former two-time world junior champion in 2013 and 2014, and the defending Canadian champ, Lindsay claimed her first world title on Aug. 3, winning a playoff thriller to cap off six days of pitching and exceeding her own expectations.
“We were thinking it would be good if I got top five in the final,” Lindsay said. “When I got to the playoff, it was like, ‘Wow, I can’t do worse than second.’”
Both Hodgins and Marlene Ray of Tennessee finished the round robin with 14 wins and one loss, forcing the one-game playoff. Hodgins brought her best to the extra match, opening with 21 ringers and running up 20 points before Ray even had one. Hodgins ended up winning the playoff 40-11.
“She had to catch up to me,” Hodgins recalled. “If I just keep putting ringers on, she can’t catch up.”
The World Tournament is open to anyone who has played four tournaments over the year. The first three days are group play, during which competitors throw 600 shoes, with the top 16 proceeding to the final round, which is three more days.
Hodgins says she typically throws 70 to 73 per cent ringers at home, and that pattern continued at the World Tournament, where she threw 71.67 in the first round, the fifth-best percentage out of 380 competitors. She took it up a notch in the final round, averaging 82.37 per cent, her best percentage in a tournament of more than one day. That included a phenomenal 90 per cent, 82-shoe game against Joan Elmore, a nine-time winner of the world championship.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a game that good,” Hodgins said.
Hodgins earned the respect of the NHPA Hall-of-Famer, who ended up making the playoff possible when she defeated Marlene Ray in the last game of the round robin.
“I think she actually wanted me to win after she figured out she wasn’t in the top two,” Hodgins said.
A member of the Ladysmith Horseshoe Club, Hodgins threw a total of 964 shoes over the six-day competition, including 794 ringers for an 82.3
The biggest difference between competing here and competing at the World Tournament is that the World Tournament uses clay pits, of which there are none in B.C., and in which Hodgins hadn’t pitched in five years. It turned out to be an easy adjustment for Hodgins.
“A lot of people were complaining that the clay was bouncy,” she noted. “But I bounced less than I do at home in sand.”
This was the 99th year for the women’s world championship, and Hodgins is only the third Canadian to win the title. The first time a Canadian won was in 1975. The next was a run of four straight from 2000 to 2003 by Quebec’s Sylvianne Moisan, who Hodgins edged out for the 2018 Canadian championship. Moisan also finished second to Marlene Ray’s twin sister Maxine Griffith in the 2018 world championship.
Hodgins has been pitching horseshoes for nine years, which she pointed out is “a lot less than everybody else” at the worlds. Some competitors have been throwing for more than 50 years.
“She was going against a ton of experience,” Wayne Hodgins pointed out.
Hodgins won’t be defending her Canadian championship this year, but she will pursue a fifth-straight provincial title over the September long weekend. She does plan to return to the World Tournament, which will be in Monroe, Louisiana next year, to win again with a higher average.
“My dad (Peter Hodgins) said we have to go,” Lindsay said, laughing. “He actually got excited this time. He’s already making plans to go next year.”