Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PRO PUTTERS SQUARE OFF; Tour Stops at Fernandina Beach Course

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PRO PUTTERS SQUARE OFF; Tour Stops at Fernandina Beach Course

Article excerpt

Byline: KEVIN TURNER

About 26 summers ago, 17-year-old Aaron Bean set a tournament record for the best score on the front nine holes of one of the two courses at Putt-Putt of Fernandina Beach.

He scored a 10 on those nine holes on the beachfront course in his hometown, and his record stands today. Bean, now 43 and a former state legislator, leased the 50-year-old Putt-Putt course last year. And his record was in jeopardy Sunday as 22 Professional Putters Associations Southern Tour golfers squared off in a regional professional tour tournament stop at his course - an event he had worked to bring there.

Bean said he was happy to see all the professionals play there - including nine national champions - and that he'd rather see his course added to the Southern Tour than to see his record stand perpetually. As it turned out, a professional tied his score, but his record is intact as an amateur record, he said.

Bean said he participated as an amateur in the PPA national tournament last year in Orlando and although he didn't place high in rankings there, he made all the contacts he needed to bring the tour to Florida this year.

"We submitted a proposal when North Carolina was under 3 feet of snow," Bean said. "Timing was everything."

Tour representatives visited his course, made a few recommendations for minor upgrades, which he said he gladly did to receive the PPA approval.

The tournament was the tour's first in Florida. It covers Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia, but it was Bean's diligence that brought it to Florida, said tour treasurer Rick Baird.

"Aaron wanted us to play in Florida. We came here to find out what a beautiful town this is," he said.

Bean also managed to line up local sponsorships from Sonny's, Subway and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

The golfers who came to play Sunday looked like PGA Tour players - at least from the shirts and hats they wore, but virtually all completed the outfit with cargo or Bermuda shorts and tennis shoes. Unlike regular miniature golfers, they didn't use rented clubs and balls. As per PPA rules, they used regulation golf balls and real putters.

Putt-Putt isn't the same as miniature golf, which often features tunnels, motorized obstacles and animation and scenery that add a dab of amusement park to one's putting game.

Baird explained that Putt-Putt courses are stripped-down, straight-ahead putting with angles, banks and inclines typically the only obstacles. …

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