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Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

Golfer takes miniature version of game to at-risk children


Published:   |   Updated: February 18, 2014 at 02:22 PM

OLDSMAR – Most golfers you see on television got their starts at the same place – the local miniature golf course.

J.J. Grace is an avid golfer who understands the importance of getting children started in golf, a sport many underprivileged kids never get a chance to play. When he isn’t on the course, Grace works as a teacher at Sun Ray Elementary School in Pasco County as a behavioral resource teacher, dealing with at-risk children.

In his heart, he wanted to combine his love of golf with his love for children.

Realizing he couldn’t bring kids to the course, he did one better. He brought it to them.

The Oldsmar resident heard about a company in Canada that makes portable mini golf courses and pulled out his credit card. And when the company, which makes only a few courses a year, learned of Grace’s work with at-risk youth, it put him at the head of the list. A few months later, Grace had his mini golf course.

“I love golf and I grew up playing mini golf,” Grace said while watching kids place on his mini course at the recent Golfest at The Downs in Oldsmar. “Lots of kids never get a chance to step on a golf course and never get to hold a golf club. This is a great experience for them.”

Grace formed Par-Tee, which, supplies mini golf to parties, school events, employee fun days, fundraisers and just about everything else. Besides the course, he can also supply bounce houses and a slide, as well as an inflatable alligator that can be used for chipping games.

Grace works hard to keep costs down and said that he has something for every budget.

“We don’t do a lot of advertising but we get by on word of mouth,” said Grace. “It’s easy to run and it’s a lot of fun.”

His course takes about an hour to set up. He’s modified it since he first received it and has added things such as Masters flags, some hazards and obstacles. It might be portable and not have screaming dinosaurs and waterfalls on every hole, but it is about the most challenging mini golf course anywhere.

“We want to make it different than most of the mini golf courses and also more affordable,” Grace said. “It’s challenging – but so is the actual game of golf.”

For more on Par-Tee Professionals, call J.J. Grace at (727) 418-5157.

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