The Best Mini-Putt Hole In Rockford History Was….
The ninth hole at Arnold Palmer Putting Course.
There's a Buttita Brothers at the corner of Maray Dr and N Alpine Rd these days but decades ago it was a miniature golf course oasis for the residents of Rockford.
I spent many afternoons at the mini-putt (that's what my family always called it, unlike "pop" and "soda" the line separating "mini-putt" "mini golf" and "putt-putt" users seems to be familial and not regional) nestled up against Keith Creek a few yards away from the bustling traffic on Alpine.
My mom would drop my best friend Jeremy and myself off at Arnold Palmer and then go do whatever parents did when they dropped off their kids at a public place with no supervision in the early '90s. Jeremy and I would play two rounds because we always saved our 2 for 1 coupon printed on every scorecard from our last visit. We'd grab a drink from the vending machine between 18, check out the older kids in the batting cages for a little, then go back out for another loop. If mom had to run longer errands, we would just walk up the street to the Game Factory and play some video games until she was ready to pick us up. It was a pretty good afternoon for a 12-year-old.
Jeremy and I got pretty familiar with the course, we could probably beat any adult that was out there. Hole-in-one-less rounds were the exception, not the rule because we had played pretty much every angle on the course.
There were holes that we liked more than others. If it was slow, they wouldn't yell at us if we played a hole a few times for practice. There's no hole we replayed more than number nine. Let me describe it to you.
First, let's take a look at the side view of this hole:
NOTE: I made these illustrations myself in Paint. NBD but KBD.
As you can see, we're working with a two-tier green here. The tee area is to the right about a foot higher than where the hole is. Between the two tiers was a small "moat" about 9 inches deep, running the width of the green. You had to make sure your tee shot was hard enough to clear the water or you'd be hit with the stroke penalty. Conversely, you didn't want to hit it too hard because as you can see from the top view:
If you hit it past the hole you would end up in the "sand trap" and have a difficult second shot to record the par 2 rating on this hole. It was an elegant hole that demanded a deft touch and a certain amount of trust.
There were flashier holes out there, the classic windmill hole and waterwheel hold come to mind, but none were as cool as good ol' number nine.