Chris McComas, co-founder of MVP Sports and Social, lay on the ground and pointed the grip of his putter at the golf ball during a game at the Fish Hole at Lakewood Ranch.

McComas was just having fun, pretending to shoot pool instead of playing miniature golf.

He lined up his pool cue – putter – and shot.

His teammates watched the ball go up and down slopes, veer away from turtle danger, knock down bricks and narrowly miss the holeshot.

McComas dropped his head to the ground in disappointment.

“You forgot to use chalk,” East County’s Daryl Haworth said.

Using a putter as a pool stick was one of nine challenges McComas created for MVP Sports and Social’s new mini-golf league at The Fish Hole on Main Street in Lakewood Ranch.

McComas said the mini golf league, which kicked off June 16, was a new opportunity for people to socialize and meet other people while playing a sport in a non-competitive atmosphere.

The game’s challenges were a fun twist and they included playing a hole with a hockey stick instead of a putter, using the putter as a pool stick, and rolling a dice to determine how many strokes a player would need to use a real driver. instead of a putter.

The challenges brought laughter, cheers and sometimes frustration.

Fifty-two players gathered before the round to hear the various challenges.

Indigo’s Sandy Roth and Kelly dePalo cheered as teammate Danielle Dustman of Ellenton scored a hole-in-one on a hole that carried the low score challenge.

“We don’t even have to putt,” dePalo said as they saved the ace.

Playing mini golf brought back memories for many players.

DePalo recalls 24 years ago teaching her son Kyle dePalo how to play mini golf when he was 5 years old.

It didn’t go so well. Standing beside her as he prepared to putt, her son lifted his putter high and hit her in the face, breaking her nose.

“It’s putt putt, but they think they have to go all out,” Kelly dePalo said of the kids. “I didn’t want him to feel bad, so I said, ‘I’ll be right back.’ I went to the bathroom and looked and it was like, ‘Oh my God, that hurts.'”

Indigo’s Sandy Roth had a similar incident on a mini-golf course when his daughter Kristina Mefford, who was 6 at the time, hit Roth in the mouth, resulting in a dead tooth.

“I stand very far now,” Roth said of when someone is ready to play.

Playing mini-golf once again reminded Julie Junk of Lakewood Ranch of when she and her husband, Mike Junk, would go mini-golf on dates when they were teenagers 20 years ago.

Cassie and Josh Brandt of Parrish and Julie Junk of Lakewood Ranch watch Mike Junk hole-in-one on his first league putt. (Photo by Liz Ramos)

“We were excited to try (mini-golf) again and relive our childhood,” said Julie Junk. “It was a fun family experience, or before you were of age it was a good dating experience because your parents trusted your boyfriend or girlfriend to play a round of mini golf.”

Some players couldn’t remember the last time they played mini golf. They joined the league more for the social atmosphere than for the sport itself.

Lakewood Ranch’s Stacey OBrien hasn’t played mini golf in at least eight years, but since moving to the area in September, she’s seen the league as an opportunity to meet new people.

Each week, participants are paired with different members of the league in order to always meet new people.

Participants like Indigo’s Bobbie Doyle have seen the league not only as a chance to catch up with friends, but also as an opportunity to work on their putting.

“I’ve been playing golf for 12 years, but you’d never know it from the way I play,” Doyle said with a laugh.

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