Off to a Glowing start
Lorene Bridgeman doesn't play golf. Real golf, that is.
But she is making it possible for all ages to enjoy miniature golf in a space tucked away just off Columbia River Highway in Scappoose.
Next to Sears and only a long approach putt from Fred Meyer is where Bridgeman operates Glowing Putters.
The building formerly was home to a travel agency, and the 13-hole putting course offers a bit of "travel" itself, to an imaginary realm.
The first-year business serves all ages with not only mini-golf but also arcade games and a party/event meeting room.
It's a dream come true for Bridgeman, a native of the North Oregon Coast who has spent the past 13 years as a registered nurse working in the Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center intermediate care unit in Portland.
"This is the perfect business for me," she said. "I've always had an affinity for kids, and I've always liked miniature golf.
"And Scappoose needed something like this, because there was nothing for the kids to do besides the movie theater and skate park."
Glowing Putters opened on March 9.
"It's been so much fun," Bridgeman said. "We've had kids' birthday parties, showers, business meetings, church gatherings ... all kinds of things. It's just been a real blessing to see kids happy."
She had no business background, but "I've been very creative since I was a child. I was a busy bee — my husband says eccentric in a way."
The creativity helped her conjure the unique theme at Glowing Putters — where the neon course glows in the dark and a round of miniature golf is intended to also serve as a make-believe "Search for the Treasure Chest."
She acquired all sorts of suitable props that guard or go alongside the holes. Items include a hammerhead shark, octobus, cheetah, boat, bridges and Pirate Lee.
"You go into the jungle and search, then you come across the shipwreck and the pirate, and then you go underneath the sea and you can find the sunken treasure," she said. "Probably the most popular figure in there is Pirate Lee. A lot of people like taking selfies with him."
Themed "pirate" music plays in the background as golfers navigate the course.
Bridgeman gives credit to friend Ted Kirkman — "my right-hand man" — for his talents as a painter and air brusher.
"I couldn't have done it without him," she said, adding that he "sometimes reeled me in with my thoughts."
Bridgeman picked up some of her ideas over the years playing other miniature courses.
"I did not play golf in high school, but I have played many putt-putts, from Mexico to Brandon, Missouri," she said.
Getting the business going took several months, from the August 2018 lease acquisition to re-zoning and re-coding and architectural drawings to approval from the city of Scappoose in December to the finalizing of required upgrades.
The party/event room can be rented for one hour, 45 minutes for either $150 (room plus 10 rounds of golf) or $200 (room with 10 rounds plus two large pizzas and 10 sodas). The room holds up to 50 people.
Cakes, cookies and desserts are allowed in from the outside for those renting the space, but she also has for sale various items such as popcorn, chips, pepperonis, candy, snacks, sodas, juices and water.
The arcade games, which number more than 25, cost 25 cents to $1 to play. Air hockey, pinball and instant prize machines are among the attractions.
"Plenty of people just come in and play the arcade," she said.
A TV in the lobby has basic cable. Ideas for the future include a movie night or events built around major sporting events.
"Some people have asked if we could have slumber parties for youth groups," she said. "I listen to the community and am open to suggestions."
Saturdays typically get the most traffic, she said, but during the summer the flow has been dependent on other factors.
In getting the course ready for play, Bridgeman played it often — just admittedly not particularly well. In other words, as a putter she is not likely to make anyone forget Tiger Woods or Annika Sorenstam.
"I played the course lots to make sure it was perfected, but it's a par-26 and my best score is probably a 33, which is horrible," she said with a laugh.
The course record is 21, set by a family friend, Brandon Underwood.
Patrons come and go throughout the day. It costs $8 to play the first round, then $5 for each follow-up trip around the course.
Each hole has a name. No. 1 is Wicked Willow, No. 2 is Spiral Into My Web, No. 3 is Kong's Revenge ... and the round ends with No. 13, dubbed Pirate Lee's Coffer.
On a recent Wednesday, Kathy Goodrich of St. Helens played the course along with son James, 15, and James' friend Beau Baker, a fellow teen from California. James and Beau agreed that the golf and the games "are both pretty awesome." James shot 34, Beau 35, and together with Kathy they had a combined four aces. "For somebody like me, it's pretty tough," Kathy Goodrich said of the mini-golf.
Teeing off not far behind them was Stacie Guillory of Scappoose, with grandsons ages 6 and 8 in tow. It was her fourth time at Glowing Putters.
"It's so much fun," she said. "The coolest thing about it is that it challenges the boys, because they both like golf.
"It's something they ask to do every time we get together. We also spend a lot of time at the partk, but it's nice to come here when it's really warm."
This reporter also took a spin around the layout and found it to be a test — not as difficult (or as unfair) as some larger, outdoor miniature golf courses but not easy pickings.
Decisions have to be made on which path to take off the tee on many of the holes, and making aces is not easy (I had none).
I chose to putt rather conservatively, lagging the ball as near as possible to the holes most of the way, trying to secure par-2s ... and as a result, and thanks to some beginner's luck, I was able to post a score of 27.
You, however, might be able to beat the sports writer! Especially if you dare to take some more aggressive routes and are able to make your boldness pay off.
Glowing Putters is open noon to 9 p.m. seven days a week through Labor Day. Then it will go back to seasonal hours of 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
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