Delray Beach, FL, December 03, 2010 --(PR.com
)-- When she bought a prime sliver of land in downtown Delray Beach, Elise Johnson had a big decision to make: should she convert her 1.5 acres into a condominium complex on Federal Highway? Or, should she provide a place for family fun and turn it into a lushly landscaped miniature golf course?
The longtime real estate appraiser and saleswoman went for the do-the-right-thing gamble in opening the 36-hole Putt’N Around course on southbound Federal Highway, three blocks north of Atlantic Avenue. The multi-million dollar investment for the mother of two boys is paying off.
Since opening in August, the course -- actually, it's two 18-hole courses in one -- has been busy with local families, tourists and even gardening enthusiasts who stroll the beach-inspired landscape with 300 plants and trees, including rare African Boaboa and Ylang-Ylang trees, Johnson said.
City business officials said Johnson’s vision fits into Delray Beach’s goals of becoming a regional destination and gives Atlantic Avenue visitors a reason to venture a bit farther north.
“It’s a great addition to the downtown,” said Elizabeth Butler, marketing & grants coordinator at the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), which gave Putt’N Around a grant for a portion of the project’s exterior improvement expenses. “Who doesn’t like miniature golf?”
Johnson -- a Washington, D.C. area transplant with a passion for the outdoors -- envisioned Putt’N Around as a family friendly attraction that fits in with Delray Beach’s historic and small-town charm. Working with one of the country’s premier designers of miniature golf courses, she set out to build a perfectly manicured course featuring Everglades and village-by-the-sea themes surrounded by ponds, waterfalls and bronze statues of sailfish and manatees.
“I wanted it to feel like an oasis,” Johnson said. “This isn’t just for golfing. It’s for gardening too.”
Her timing is good.
One of the few bright spots in the current recession is the family-oriented entertainment industry, reports show. Things to do at home or near home are popular these days. In fact, the sale of board games is up. So are home video rentals. And, according to Johnson, miniature golf course visits are on the rise too.
The idea for Putt’N Around hit Johnson on New Year’s Eve 2009, while attending First Night festivities in downtown Delray Beach. She saw a long line of people waiting to play miniature golf on a small, temporary course.
“I started doing research,” said Johnson, who grew up playing miniature golf. “I realized that downtown has a lot of great restaurants and art galleries, but there was a need for something active that families can do together.”
So Johnson found the vacant land on Federal Highway. She bought the property, hired builders and a staff, and crossed the community to spread the word that a new course -- and perhaps one of the nicest new courses in the nation -- was opening in Delray Beach.
Almost immediately, much to her surprise, the course was a hit.
“Everyone has fond memories of playing golf,” she said. “It’s where memories are made.”
Putt’N Around, at 350 NE Fifth Avenue in Delray Beach, can be reached at 561-450-6162 or at www.puttnaround.net.