Freeborn County Fair: Fairways for the fair

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 4, 2006

By Ed Shannon, staff writer

Thanks to the Albert Lea Sertoma Club, and now Perry Vining, the once popular game of miniature golf has been revived and is now part of the activities at the Freeborn County Fair.

During the fair golfing enthusiasts of all ages can play this game on a genuine 10-hole course. And Vining said this particular version of golf on the city’s second course &8220;is the most fun for younger children.&8221;

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This particular mini-course was purchased by the local Sertoma Club in Tipton, Iowa, about 1995 and brought to Albert Lea. The course had been stored outside and not used for several years.

Members of the Sertoma Club rebuilt the greens, revised several of the buildings or obstacles, and used the course as a fundraiser at the fair.

Vining purchased the course in 2002. For three years he said the course has been taken to New Richland for Farm & City Days by Mitch and Mike Thompson, owners of a body shop in that city, then brought back to Albert Lea. This year a new place was added when the Thompsons took the course to the Waseca County Fair for the first time.

This course will set up for the last time this season for use during the American Cancer Society Relay for Life on Aug. 11 and 12 at the fairgrounds.

&8220;This will be the second time we’ve done this. Last year we made $250 and donated it all to the cancer fund,&8221; Vining said.

When the course is not in use, it’s stored in one of the fairgrounds buildings.

Vining emphasized that this particular golf course is lighted and can be used at night.

&8220;We could put a dome over the place and have air conditioning,&8221; he said to emphasize the space used by what some folks used to call a putt-putt course.

There’s a clubhouse and pro shop (ticket booth) for this course. However, this year a tent with open sides is being used as the base of operations for the four people who operate this version of a country club.

Each hole is a separate unit with a special obstacle or challenge. A round on this course takes the player through a small barn, past the Doc Holliday Hotel, by Snoopy’s dog house, through the theater, over a tiny bridge, a hole based on a used tire converted into a loop-de-loop, through a structure with a choice of a king or queen side, and up against a stop light device.

The ninth hole is based on the traditional windmill blade obstacle.

Vining thinks the toughest hole on his course is No. 8 with its raised hole. The next toughest is the sixth hole with its recycled tire cut and shaped into a loop-de-loop obstacle.

The final challenge at the bonus (10th) hole is to put the ball through the opening for the clown’s nose. When the Sertoma Club has the course at the fairgrounds, a hole-in-one. at this part of the course resulted in the award of a free game to the player.

&8220;I give a free game for a hole-in-one on any part of the course,&8221; Vining explained.

He added that a 5-year-old at New Richland had two holes-in-one at the 10th hole this year.

This miniature golf course opens at 11 a.m. each day. Balls in various colors

and clubs in sizes from child to adult size are available for use by the players on the city’s

second (temporary) golf course. Incidentally, no golf carts or caddies are needed on this course.