Mini golf sets up friendships, camaraderie


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Jeff Akers ponders his stroke as he takes his turn at the miniature golf course at Lamplighter Village.

Brenda Eggert Brader

Miniature golfers don’t need to putt through clown’s mouths or windmills to play the game, but residents with a passion for miniature golf have a league and an 18-hole course at Lamplighter Village in Melbourne.

Handicaps, substitutes and four-person teams are organized for the popular sport.

“They did a nice job, did it right and it is well thought out,” said Jeff Akers, the league commissioner for the past seven years referring to the new 18-hole course created by a golf course designer.

“There are a lot of undulations,” Akers said. “If you hit too hard, it can go off course and you get a penalty. They put bumps in, and your ball can go off course. It was really planned out and there are pavers to connect to the next hole. There is even thicker turf which is the rough. Really nice and challenging.”

Among his duties as commissioner, Akers fills out the scorecards every week, keeps the raw scores of the teams and figures the handicaps. Scorecards are kept every week and handicaps are determined. Every player pays $2 in greens fees each week that are placed in a common pot.

“Every hole-in-one gets a dollar and teams place, and so we exhaust the money every week,” Akers said.

The last Wednesday in September, the group does a draft to separate players. So, seven of the best players are placed on separate teams and then draw lots for the rest of the members.

“That way, we don’t have spouses on the same team,” Akers added. “Depending how many are there on the draft, teams of three are formed and then we fill in with a fourth person as needed.”

The season starts the first Friday in October. The league plays a total of 24 Fridays each semester and holds a banquet with door prizes and awards at the end of the season.

“We have a lot of fun. We have a nice turnout of 40 to 50 players. Some of my best friends in the park are on the team because you can chat as you play.”