Golfers explore Kent businesses during Putt Around Downtown

Someone dressed up as the Main Street Kent mascot black squirrel during the Putt Around Downtown event Saturday, April 6.

Jorden Shevel

A black squirrel mascot in an argyle golf sweater walked the streets of Kent this weekend, and he wasn’t emerging from hibernation because of the warm weather. He was out to golf.

Groups of golfers paraded around the city to participate in this year’s Putt Around Downtown hosted by Main Street Kent. The 18 businesses created special miniature golf holes, each representing their business.

Golfers headed into Venice Cafe at 1 p.m. to check into the event. They received their commemorative golf balls with black squirrel logos and scorecards. From the cafe, they were sent to designated holes, instead of a traditional start where everyone goes to hole one. The event used a shotgun start, placing golfers on different holes to avoid congestion.

Businesses used creativity in the 18-hole downtown golf course. Treno Ristorante had bottles of wine and a bowl of pasta in its hole. GV Art and Design created a baseball diamond for opening day. Belleria Pizza & Italian Restaurant created a pizza oven hole with a bowl of cheese and pepperoni as obstacles and a cut-out part of the pizza box as a whole. Someone dressed up as the Main Street Kent black squirrel and visited all the different holes throughout the day, posing for pictures and greeting happy golfers.

Owners of businesses used the event not only to creatively express their business, but to also display their businesses to people who may have never stopped in before. Over 90 registered golfers participated, and walkup golfers joined in on the fun as the day went on.

“It brings in a lot of people who didn’t know about us and it brings people to pretty much every business around here,” said Tyler Cooper, the manager at GV Art and Design. “We have actually done some business with some new faces and we get to show off our product. People also get to have some fun too.”

Instead of focusing on being artistically creative, some businesses did their best to make their hole difficult to master. Rise and Shine Cafe created a hole with a metal red barn as an obstacle which one golfer hit four times in a row. Popped! had a hole with a vertical incline, which if hit too hard, sent golfers’ balls on an out of bounds journey through Acorn Alley. Even through the moments of frustration, laughter frequently filled the air and smiles were visible all throughout downtown Kent.

“It’s a cool event you get to spend family time and you’re outdoors enjoying the weather,” said Christy Naylor, a returning golfer. “It’s just a really fun activity and my son loves putt putt. It’s also really cool for the people who don’t know the stores you got to learn about stores in Kent which I think is really cool.”

Some businesses also took advantage of the warm, sunny day and set up their hole outside. Popped, Rise and Shine Cafe, Kent Cheesemonger and Handcrafted all had their displays in the sunshine. Carnaby Street Style used its hole to remind golfers the cold months are behind them and the warm weather is on its way.

“We were just thinking we wanted to make something have a spring feel with it getting a little nicer out. We have the flowers, which goes along well with the Curly Girl cards that we sell here. So we just went with a springy theme back here,” said Brian Kennel, the owner of Carnaby Street Style. “The event is so much fun and we love to just be a part of the community, getting new people down here and meeting new people is so much fun.”

The day had lots of different activities other than the golf to offer as well. Golfers shopped in the different business, many carrying shopping bags in one hand and scorecards in the other. Right outside of Kent Cheesemonger, golfers over the age of 21 sampled different wines in between holes. When golfers finished the hole at Red Letter Days they were challenged with a dice game where all the dice had to end up with 6’s before they could move to the next hole.

The Putt Around Downtown event featured 18 Kent businesses, but one business was left out. Even though his hole didn’t make the official scorecard, Frederick Kluth still left his doors open to golfers and created a custom hole.

The FJKluth Art Gallery had participated in the event for 2 years before not making it on this year. Kluth named his hole “Hole 9 and ¾”, after the famous Harry Potter magical hidden platform.    

“It was an accident, they sent their request out a little late. I said I was going to do it but how do I know I’m going to actually be in it so I just planned it,” Kluth said. “Then when they published the list of holes, I asked what happened and they said it was too late and I didn’t apply. I said well that’s ok I’m going to do it anyway.”

He only saw a limited amount of golfers but he decorated his gallery for both the art walk that was held Friday and Putt Around Downtown. He displayed sketches he made of different golfers throughout history who helped shape golf into the sport it is today.

Along with his sketches, he put his art skills on display by making his own custom golf club and sculpture garden mini golf hole. He also set out his grandfather’s old clubs, which date back as early as the 1900s for people coming into the gallery to see.

Golfers used the day as they wanted, enjoying all the business of downtown, basking in the summer-like weather and playing some mini golf, while many spent time with family and caught up with friends.

“The coffee hole was my favorite because it was kinda challenging and I thought the rest was pretty easy,” said Colin Brown, a first-time golfer. “The best part about today was seeing Luke because he is my best friend.”

Jorden Shevel covers business. Contact him at [email protected]