‘Putt’ People First Miniature Golf: Making a difference one hole at a time
The miniature golf course at Athens Southside Park was by no means a popular attraction. Located at The Ridges, it was said that the first four holes simply disappeared one day, causing most people to overlook it.
Finally, in the fall of 2007, after Captain Sniffy’s (the dog) daily walk, Sniffy’s owner suggested that this golf course be repaired immediately. The following May construction and decoration began.
This suggestion was forwarded to an organization known as Havar Incorporated, a non-profit corporation based in Athens, Meigs and Washington County, Ohio. From there, with the help of the community under the direction of Havar, the Putt People First miniature golf course was born.
“We provide residential services, some employment services and day services to adults with developmental disabilities,” said Lisa Simpson, Havar employee and program manager for Putt People First.
Asked about the work to remaster the course, Simpson said: “We just had a dream of bringing a family business to the community and employing adults with developmental disabilities. So we had to find 18 sponsors to be able to clean the course and have them design the holes.
Each hole is sponsored by a different company located in Athens. For example, hole number three is presented by “Power 105.5 FM Radio”, an Athens-based radio station. The hole is located under a miniature creation of a radio tower, announcing the station.
Another example, hole number six is sponsored by Bagel Street Deli, with a large bagel-shaped obstacle that players must attempt to hit their ball in order to get closer to the hole.
For small businesses in Athens looking to get their business out there, sponsoring one of these holes might not be a bad idea as there are still several to claim by contacting Havar at the number listed on their website , 740-593-3533 .
When asked if she could pick a favorite hole on the course, Simpson replied, “No, I think they’re all great.”
As for Havar’s future, according to Simpson, Havar will be hosting their “Putt-Spook-Palooza”, inviting attendees to come play in costume. Free food will be provided and donations are welcome.
After trudging to the top of a hill, scattered below are the 18 holes that make up the golf course and ball rental station, manned by a Havar employee.
Bradan Miller, graphic design specialist at the Tri-County Career Center, said he has been working at the Havar golf course since the start of the summer.
“Havar works with people with disabilities, and I’m autistic myself,” Miller said. “So they put me in touch and it’s been amazing.”
When asked what other opportunities Havar had given him, Miller said they contacted him and offered him a job as a receptionist.
Mackensie Littlefield, a junior mechanical engineering student, said she and her friends did the mini-golf and really enjoyed it.
“I thought it was just a fun little afternoon activity to do on the weekends with friends,” she said.
Littlefield, a mini-golf enthusiast, said: “I really liked hole number three, it had two tiers which made it a bit more complex.”
When asked if she would ever play the course again, she replied, “I would love to go back…it supports a really good cause and it’s a fun ride to The Ridges.”
At just $3 for students, Simpson encourages OU students to consider supporting a good cause and playing a round or two of mini golf. To quote the Putt People First website: “There are two types of people in the world…those who are crazy about miniature golf and those who are going to be. Which are you?”