Earlier this month, a group of family and I went to Chuckster’s in Hooksett, NH to play mini-golf. This is significant because I use a power wheelchair to get around, and until recently I didn’t know I could play mini-golf in my chair. There are two full, 18-hole courses at Chuckster’s, and one of them – the Cave Course – is completely ADA accessible! We had a great time playing the course, and I got the chance to speak with Chuckster’s owner Mark Blasko a couple of weeks later.
Getting on the course at Chuckster’s was really easy; after figuring out what size putter I needed and picking out my ball, I didn’t need any special assistance from the staff. Figuring out how to golf from a wheelchair takes some time and effort and is probably different for everyone, so I spent a few minutes in the practice area fine-tuning my swing. Chuckster’s is great for this, as in addition to a typical practice green, there are also three practice holes, dubbed the world’s shortest, easiest and most difficult holes.
As for the course itself, we were impressed with how fun and challenging the holes were, while being very accessible and remaining fairly flat. In my bulky power wheelchair, I was able to reach the vast majority of the total playing surface and almost always able to play my ball. Bricks line the edges of each hole like a typical mini-golf course, but every hole had one or more gaps in the bricks which allowed me to get on and off the green. Besides occasionally needing someone to reposition my ball slightly, I was able to play mini-golf, just like everyone else. This showed on the scorecard too, where I finished seventh out of our group of ten. So I’m not the best mini-golfer in my family, but I’m comfortably in the middle, which feels pretty great.
I had never heard of an accessible mini-golf course before Chuckster’s opened their Hooksett location in 2017, so I talked to the owner and operator of Chuckster’s Family Fun Parks, Mark Blasko, to learn a little more about the course. The biggest question on my mind was why it was decided to build the fully accessible course at this location. Mark’s answer was simple: because it was the right thing to do; everyone who wants to should be able to play mini-golf. He added that making the course accessible doesn’t just benefit people with disabilities, but also elderly golfers, families with strollers, and anyone who prefers a flatter course. We then talked about the process of designing and building the course. For ADA compliance, each hole had to maintain a minimum width for wheelchair users, and slopes could not be too steep. Working within those constraints, Mark designed the holes, which feature plenty of ramps, streams, rocks and other obstacles. From there, getting the course built was an iterative process between Mark and the course builders, and the design changed many times before the course was finished. Finally, Mark told me that he would love to see more people play the course who didn’t know they could play mini-golf.
If you’re interested in checking out the course, Chuckster’s is located at 53 Hackett Hill Road in Hooksett, NH. If you are unsure if you’ll be able to play, go to chucksters-hooksett.com or call (603) 210-1415 for more information. Happy golfing!