Golfers played through at the recently in the second all-ages miniature golf tournament benefitting the Donald Miklus Foundation.
The foundation was established in memory of Trumbull resident and avid golfer Don Miklus to raise funds to build a youth center for golf at Tashua Knolls.
Miklus was a member of the Trumbull Golf Commission and was instrumental in the construction and development of the and Tashua Glen Golf Courses.
According to his wife, Kris, he believed that children could benefit from the discipline required to learn and compete in a sport.
“He believed we were going to achieve world peace through the game of golf,” she said, laughing.
The 18-hole course covered both the first and second floors of the library, with the stacks, reading areas, and ramps used as fairways. Last weekend’s tournament was not scored competitively, but kids could pick up a prize for a hole-in-one.
A bake sale and a raffle added to the fundraising efforts. Trumbull students could enter to win a ride to school in one of the town’s fire trucks or police cars.
The idea of library mini golf was generated by another Trumbull resident, Rick Bolton. Bolton’s company held its first fundraiser at the Trumbull Library in 2005, raising $10,000 for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and has gone on to create golf courses for charitable events at various libraries throughout New England.
The Miklus’ daughter Michelle, who helped organize the event, said that the mini golf tournament is a great opportunity for families to come together.
“Between cell phones and e-mails and texting, it’s so important to have those few hours of time without all that,” she said. “It’s important for families to have those couple hours of talk and teamwork.”
Don Miklus, who died in 2008, served as the Finance Director of Westport for seven years and was a 42-year employee of the town of Westport.
The Miklus family was trying to figure out how best to honor Don, and they wanted to commemorate him in a way that would continue to actively benefit the community. “Donald spent his life giving back and doing for others and this is our tribute to him,” said Kris Miklus.
Kris and Michelle came up with the idea to build an all-weather indoor golf center for kids. When Tashua Knolls changed its golf carts from gas-run to electric and built a new shed to hold the new carts, this left the old storage building, widely called the “Cart Barn,” empty.
Tashua was planning to knock it down, so Kris Miklus made arrangements to use the space for the youth center.
The “Barn” already has new doors, ceilings, an HVAC system, and new walls purchased from funds raised from last year’s inaugural tournament at the library.
Now, the Miklus Training Center only needs money to install electricity and build classrooms, as well as to construct indoor training bays and tees. The facility plans to offer lessons and workshops, golf camps, and junior leagues once it is finished.
Eventually, the Mikluses want the center to sustain itself so that all children can get a chance to have quality golf training without paying for private lessons.
“It’s our goal to allow children to be able to play for free. The whole idea is to let anyone play, including those who are challenged in one way or another,” said Kris Miklus.
The foundation is hoping to open the space this fall. Another fundraiser to benefit the Training Center, the Fourth Annual Don Miklus Golf Tournament, will be held on August 1st at Tashua Knolls.
Sunday’s tournament was sponsored by a number of Trumbull families, businesses, and civic organizations that included the Trumbull Rotary Club, , , and the Executive Women’s Golf Association.
Members of the Trumbull Golf Commission were among the volunteers who organized the mini golf tournament, and children from the Tashua Junior Golf program assisted at the event.
Michelle is pleased with the community’s support of the foundation’s mission. She said that some of the best memories she has of her father are from the golf course.
“We care about keeping his memory alive within the town through golf. It was a passion of his that we hope to pass on,” she said.