You've probably done lots of fun things with your family so far this summer, but have you built your own miniature golf course yet?
Recently, our neighbors invited my 6-year-old daughter, Lily, to play golf in their backyard. The Williams boys, Rylan, 9, and Caden, 5, had built their own mini golf course using wooden boards, a soccer net, helmets and other found items. It was amazing. I loved that the boys used things they found around their house. They didn't ask their parents to build or buy anything; they just got creative, seeing new uses for everyday items they already had.
"I was shocked to see what the kids could come up with," said their mother, Jamie Williams. "Their creativity is amazing. I hope it never diminishes."
Rylan said he got the idea to build his own course from a combination of two things: going to a traditional miniature golf course and seeing a TV show about someone who had made their own.
The boys had to take the course down after a day or two so as not to kill the grass, but they were excited to build another one, this time with help from my family. Lily wanted to help with the construction and we contributed items from our yard, as well. Here is what we ended up with: plenty of wooden boards and stakes, corrugated plastic tubing, a piece of gutter, a helmet, buckets, a long cardboard box and a soccer net.
We worked for about two hours to set up another course. Rylan led the way, with assistance from Lily, Caden, Jamie and me. Rylan built one in which the ball must be hit up a fairly steep wooden ramp into a soccer net. Another hole used boards as walls, with the ball rolling down a board, then into an old section of gutter and finally dropping into a helmet. A third had a similar setup, but instead of the wide mouth of the gutter, the ball needed to roll into a length of corrugated plastic tubing and then into a bucket. A fourth only had one wall, so the ball couldn't just bounce back and forth against the sides as it rolled down the fairway. Caden was proud of the hole he created by using a hollow section of a batting machine as a "secret passageway" that dropped into the net of a lacrosse stick.
Lily had the idea to use a children's basketball hoop as a hole and a long cardboard box as a covered ramp, but was getting frustrated because the box wouldn't stay up. She and I worked together to tape it so it wouldn't slide off the hoop and used a small stack of wood to elevate the ramp so it wasn't too steep.
"Construction can be difficult, but you shouldn't give up because in the end it's fun to play," Rylan advised. He said his favorite element to work with was the wood. Watching how the kids used the boards in so many various ways, I can see why. Lily liked the hole that used the gutter best, and I know Caden was proud of the one he made, as well.
"I would definitely let them do it again," Jamie said. "If kids are given unscheduled time, it's incredible what their imaginations can come up with."