Hole in one for lockdown holiday fundraiser

One dad’s school holiday lockdown desperation has led to a fun, COVID-safe community mini golf course that raised money for sick children through spare change donations.

Picture this: It’s 10.30pm on a Tuesday night in the middle of lockdown, and you’ve just realised school holidays start in less than a week. You’ve already used up your great ideas engaging the kids with home schooling, you’ve now got to fill two entire weeks.

This was the exact predicament for Preston dad Ian Hillman. That was until a golf putter caught his eye, becoming the catalyst for the Royal Prestbury Mini Golf Tournament.

One of the crowd favourite golf holes ‘Mini McGolf Face’. Image: supplied.

Ian’s idea of a mini golf course on the front nature strip for his 11 and 13 year old kids quickly gained traction when he reached out to other parents in his indoor cricket and Bell Primary School network. In 24 hours, 19 others had put their hands up to create holes on their nature strips in the Preston neighbourhood, creating a mini suburban golf course.

“It has been the best idea I’ve ever had. We managed to keep kids busy for a week planning, designing, decorating, and naming golf holes. It has also been a massive boost to frazzled families in the area,” said Ian.

Not only has the idea helped to brighten the day of local families, it has also raised much needed funds for The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH).

“One of the other dads had an idea to collect spare change for the RCH, so we put buckets out at various holes. We were surprised by how much change people put in,” said Ian.

“Both of my kids have been to the RCH for minor reasons over the years, and so have many others from our primary school. Everyone has been so well looked after by the hospital, and we’re glad to be able to give back.”

Following the tournament, the vast amount of change was counted by the kids, resulting in various figures, until the adults stepped in get the final, more accurate figure of $750.

One of the crowd favourite golf holes ‘Holey Cow’. Image: supplied.

The golf course not only kept families entertained but did so in a COVID-safe way. The tournament went over the AFL Grand Final long weekend with local families bringing their own putters, travelling in family bubbles with masks, all within the outdoor exercise limit in Melbourne.

The creative concept has received plenty of media interest, and Ian hopes it will encourage other communities to follow suit with their own community mini golf and raise funds for sick kids.

“If you’re thinking of supporting the RCH Foundation, just do it. You don’t have to overthink it, we just got a bucket out for coins and notes, people came out in droves to donate to the hospital, it was a wonderful win-win.”

Learn more about holding your own fundraiser