My fiancee works for a civil engineering firm that has an office in the town where we live. Yesterday, they held their annual Halloween party, and employees were split into nine teams, each charged with designing a Halloween-themed mini-golf hole with festive decorations and office supplies. I was invited in to help on Wednesday evening with her team's design. Sure, it was pro bono, but I'm still counting it as my first golf course design consulting gig.
In truth, it was more of a renovation project, as when I arrived the 90-degree dogleg-left with plastic skulls and foam tombstones was well on its way to being a first-rate test. The main missing ingredient was what I consider the critical element of a mini-golf hole: an ace must be feasible. To make it possible to round a desk and hit the target, an overturned mason jar, I placed a cardboard box, angled just so a well-struck putt that made it through a makeshift gate (two reams of copy paper and a wire basket) on the proper angle would trundle toward the target. A good putt could result in an ace but an errant one could spell doom.
Sure, I'll never be like Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and get to lead a talented group of shapers of dozens of real-world acres. But for about 45 minutes in a Vero Beach office building, I took a trip back to my childhood, where I spent countless hours drawing golf holes on printer paper and building my own mini-golf holes in the basement, old videotapes serving as the borders and stuffed toys the obstacles. I can only hope that if not quite Coore-level, I hope my foray into (mini-) golf course renovation was at least BOOre-level.