As owners of the Pie Shop & Deli, Paul and Angela Herigon know all about America becoming a take-out society.
Get it to go. Eat it at home.
So it really wasn’t all that much of a stretch for the Herigons to broaden the fast-food concept and apply it to miniature golf.
Just call in your order. They’ll deliver a golf course to your home, church, party - whatever.
Paul Herigon is not any sort of an afficianado of miniature golf. He can’t remember the last time he played more than a couple of holes of his own course.
What he is, though, is an entrepreneur. And any entrepreneur worth his putter should be able to turn a good idea into cash.
“And I heard about this guy in Oregon a couple of years ago who built a portable miniature golf course, and I thought, what a great idea,” Herigon explains.
Herigon, 29, has spent most of his adult life working in the grocery business. He’s done tours of duty with several of the larger chains, and was working for Super Value until a few weeks ago when he and Angela bought the Pie Shop and Deli, which occupies a portion of a neighborhood grocery store at the corner of Garland and Post.
They’ve dabbled in a number of other ventures, including a day care and preschool.
So it likely seemed perfectly normal when he decided to go into the portable miniature golf business as a sideline about two years ago.
After being captivated by his Oregon counterpart’s concept, Herigon started looking around at miniature golf courses in the area for ideas.
The Herigons and their children spend a lot of time at Riverfront Park in the summers, and the layout of that course had a lot of influence on his own design he says.
“Finally, I just sat down with a pen and paper and drew something up,” he says.
It’s not a particularly exotic layout - the water hazards are just painted on - and it only has one windmill and one wishing well.
“But you don’t want a lot of ‘standups,”’ Herigon says, lapsing into miniature golf jargon, “because it limits your mobility.”
The course is designed to fit into a small trailer for transportation.
So for $350 a shot, Herigon will deliver nine holes to your doorstep. It can be set up in half an hour, either indoors or out. He supplies golf balls, putters, score cards and even pencils.
“The smallest area we’ve ever gotten the whole layout into was about a 20-foot square space, and that was pretty tight,” Herigon says, “but we can spread it out as much as anyone wants.”
A recent rental was to a local church, which had the course set up throughout the hallways and into the foyer and activity room of the building for the church youth group.
Herigon says the business has gone pretty well.
“We just toyed with it the first year, but now we’re into the second year and we’ve been pretty busy.”
He’s done a wine-tasting party where each hole was set up around a different variety of wine. He set up his course at Fairchild Air Force Base for activities following the ceremonies marking the formal departure of the B-52 wing.
Washington Water Power Co. hired the course for a company party, and had it set up in Mission Park across the street from the utility’s headquarters building.
A couple of local businesses have used it for sales promotions, and sponsored hole-in-one contests.
A sure sign of success is advance bookings, and, Herigon says proudly, a lady has already hired him for next July 4th. And he’s starting to get some repeat business, as well.
But like any true entrepreneur, Herigon is already thinking about expanding his golfing investment.
He’s drawing up plans for upgrading his existing course. And he’s thinking of building additional courses, and placing them near popular campgrounds or resorts during the summer.
“We’ve already done a little market research on doing that and working out some sort of a split with the resort owners,” Herigon says.
Herigon hasn’t really sat down and mapped out a firm future for his enterprise. But he admits his long-range aspirations for it are really pretty modest.
“It makes money,” Herigon says. “Not enough that it can be any more than a glorified hobby really, but it pays for itself. It pays for me to haul it around, anyway.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo