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Taking a swing before spring

Golf, music at event in Amsterdam

March 6, 2011
By JOHN R. BECKER, The Leader-Herald

AMSTERDAM - Winter will end one of these days, and local golfers will have the chance to get outside and get some swings in.

Until then they can golf indoors at events such as Miniature Golf Day, which was held Saturday at Amsterdam High School.

The golf course for the 13th-annual event, which is put on by the Mental Health Association of Fulton and Montgomery Counties, was laid out in the commons area. Other activities were available, including a life-sized board game, face painting, "Stuff-a-Critter," Wii games and crafts. Master Balloon Artist Daryl Baldwin and musician Gary Van Slyke were also on hand to entertain those who came. Admission was $5 for golfers and $3 for non-golfers and children.

Article Photos

Lashajuan Smith of Amsterdam sinks a golf ball in a hole during the Mental Health Association of Fulton and Montgomery counties 13th-annual Miniature Golf Day at Amsterdam High?School on Saturday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

"It's not as much a fund-raiser as it is a community day," MHA Executive Director Janine Dykeman said. "It's a great opportunity for people to do something fun with their kids."

The 18-hole miniature golf course is popular every year, Dykeman said. Each hole is decorated to represent a holiday or a particular theme. For instance, the first hole was decked out in snowflakes to depict winter, and the 18th hole was decorated in a Christmas theme.

The technology classes at various high schools in the area built the holes for the course several years ago, Dykeman said.

MHA day care director Heather Insogna was staffing the "Stuff-a-Critter" booth along with her assistant, Amber Baker. Insogna said quite a few people had come up to their booth to create plush friends. For $7, you could fill a dog, sheep, panda, poodle, tiger, cat or one of three bears with polyester stuffing.

"It's something like the Build-a-Bear workshop," Insogna said.

Other than admission and golfing, "Stuff-a-Critter" was the only activity with a price tag. Everything else was free.

The life-size board game consisted of a line of large squares. Children would roll a die the size of a softball and walk forward according to the number that came up on the die. They had to do whatever was written on the square they landed on, such as "move forward three squares" or "return to start." Along the way, they could win pieces of candy.

"This is pretty neat," said Vito "Butch" Greco, who came with his 9-year-old grandson, Jacob. "It's nice to have something indoors for the kids. Sleigh-riding is a good thing, but when it gets cold it's tough to stay out there."

Jacob won several pieces of candy at the life-size board game.

"It was worth it," he said.

An MHA staff member who also is a licensed cosmetologist was styling hair-something new at this year's event.

Seven-year-old Kyle Oertel received a teased, two-tone styling job. When asked how he liked it, he smiled shyly and said, "Awesome!"

Kyle's mom, Julie, said she liked Kyle's new look and everything else about the day.

"I love this whole thing," she said.

Julie said winter was beginning to wear a bit on her family.

"The snow is wet, and there's mud," she said. "This is a great thing to do."

Brian Mead of Amsterdam brought three kids to the event: his 9-year-old son, Cole, his 3-year-old daughter, Kylee and Cole's 9-year-old friend, John.

"We've been coming here for the last few years," Mead said. "It's something neat for the kids to do."

The Meads enjoy winter activities, such as sleigh-riding on a hill behind their house, but this event was still a nice change of pace.

"We're welcoming spring, that's for sure," he said.

John R. Becker covers Montgomery County news. He can be reached at



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