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Playing Putt-Putt in the Sandbox

When you think of Baghdad, a few things probably come to mind. Heat. Sand. Miniature golf.

Miniature golf?

That’s right—the American Red Cross has now made it possible for troops to putt-putt to their heart’s content in a place not ordinarily known for the game.

Chris Royal, a Red Cross staff member in Baghdad, designed the nine-hole golf course in the Red Cross office’s backyard. Using scrap lumber and materials, Royal worked on the course during his off-duty hours, which took about a month from start to finish. Another Red Cross team member, Tom Schelby, also put in construction time by designing one of the holes.

Word about the mini golf course’s construction spread quickly, and offers of assistance came in just as fast.

A soldier ordered gravel, and a contractor’s team helped spread it on the course, which made a big difference by covering up the sand. They are also working to install outdoor lights so service members can have access night and day.

Other Red Cross stations—including one in Korea and another in Missouri—donated putters. One solider even contributed a couple of his own putters to the course. When Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) heard about it, they opened up their warehouse and offered clubs and a box of golf balls.

Troops got to try out the course for the first time on January 2, navigating around palm trees in their bid to beat the competition.

After building up an appetite with rounds of mini golf, troops and Red Cross staff enjoyed a cookout, and as a bonus, service members had the opportunity to pick up some donated coffee, popcorn, toiletries and other items.

Royal is continuing to improve the course, making score cards and building a putting green. It’s a good thing, because group matches are already in the works.