A Fairway forward with Kevin

John Harkin puts this shot at Party Golf. (2703SL42)
John Harkin puts this shot at Party Golf. (2703SL42)

One Derry man is ‘putting’ himself and his new business FOURward. Kevin Keay has launched a new portable nine hole mini-golf course which has already proved as popular as a hole in one at Altnagelvin Children’s Ward, The Stroke Unit, a number of old peoples sheltered housing complexes and private parties.

Kevin and his company ‘Party Golf’ visited Abbey House, Little Diamond on Wednesday evening. Abbey residents were entertained and exercised by Party Golf all at the same time.

Mary Mullan, John Harkin, Danny Harkin, George Brown pictured with Kevin keay, Party Golf. (2703SL43)

Mary Mullan, John Harkin, Danny Harkin, George Brown pictured with Kevin keay, Party Golf. (2703SL43)

“For visits to, for example the Stroke Ward, the game can all be about rehabilitation. Gentle exercising, stretching and walking around without being strenuous. There are many health benefits to the game without losing any of the fun factor.”

Call centre worker, Kevin admits he always wanted to start his own business: “Well I’m just getting it off the ground but there is no one else offering mini-golf on your very own doorstep here so I think it will be popular.

“I only realised recently that I wanted to be my own boss.”

In order to make that dream a reality, Kevin first enrolled on an Invest NI ‘Go For It’ programme.

Danny Harkin techniques are scrutinised George Brown at Abbey House. (2703SL44)

Danny Harkin techniques are scrutinised George Brown at Abbey House. (2703SL44)

“I was looking at premises for indoor golf when I met a guy who sells these courses. It looked and sounded great so I invested.”

After writing his business plan with the aid of Invest NI, gathering together a “significant personal capital injection” and with support from Enterprise NI and the bank; “last August I got the go ahead and left my call centre job at HML. I knew that I needed to give it a real push and it’s been slow but things are starting to happen now.

“I had an idea to approach schools with a view to teaching the maths curriculum using golf.

“It is helps work out angles and averages while keeping the pupils engaged. I will be starting a pilot project in schools shortly.”

The father of one first had to reacquaint himself with the concepts when his daughter Sarah, was studying for her post primary transfer test last year. “As well the educational and health benefits, golf seems to be the ‘in’ thing at the minute.

“The success of Irish golfers on the international stage has given the sport a real shot in the popularity stakes.

“I’m hoping the Irish open gives me a few opportunities in the months ahead.”

The Cashelmore man is, by his own admission not a diehard golfer playing only par three courses, adding: “I enjoy the game but I prefer the crack of mini golf.

“We had a competitive event recently in the Derry City Social Club and it was brilliant. I see this being used for big kid parties as well as for children’s parties.”

The course itself can be set up in or outdoors, and is suitible for age four and older. Each mini-hole is 2m long and the course can set up rows of three or four or in a long line course of 30m.

“I think we offer a cost effective party option, there is a flat rate and as many people can play as time allows, it is not a case of paying per head,” said Kevin who brings the course as well as sets it up, deconstructs it and supervises the games.