Section Two

Par-tee on the Roof, Anyone?

By SANDRA WEYANT | May 22, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

NORTH BEACH — For most people, installing a mini-golf course at home would be far from a “gimme,” but one Long Beach Island resident scored exactly that and more. She had a nine-hole course built on her rooftop deck, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Why?

As Jean Rhodes of North Beach explains, it originally was a way to get her kids to spend more time on the spacious roof of their vacation home.

“We have this great spot on the ocean and no one would ever go onto the top deck, and that’s where you get the greatest views. So, I tried to put nice furniture up there, and that didn’t do the trick. And then it occurred to me one day that you could have a putt-putt up there,” Rhodes said.

“I bounced the idea off of my sister and husband and they both reacted positively about it, and then I connected with my carpenter, and he started planning it immediately. So, it wasn’t just me; everyone was really excited about it.”

How exactly did Rhodes swing it?

Her sister, Nancy McNamara, revealed that their inspiration for the nine special holes came from having fun and playing golf anywhere and everywhere.

“My sister Jean and I went to all of the mini-golf courses on the Island and found our favorite holes, and then we adapted them to this space,” McNamara said.

Atop the $3.4 million beachfront mansion, the course’s holes get increasingly difficult as the golfer advances. Built in just over three months, the project cost approximately $21,000, but the extra time spent with family: priceless.

Greg Fryer of Majestic Carpentry in Manahawkin, the family’s longtime friend and carpenter, was the driving force behind the layout and made it come to life with pressure-treated plywood, AstroTurf and various hand-picked, sentimental accessories.

“He is a master craftsman, and we owe it all to him. He ordered the bridges, windmills and the green from miniature golf companies. It literally is as good as a commercial golf course, so it’s no compromise to just go upstairs and play,” Rhodes said. Fryer now builds residential mini-golf courses as a side gig.

In an effort to add some personal flair and character to the course, each hole has a unique theme, some of which relate directly to Long Beach Island landmarks and hotspots – the Old Causeway, Fantasy Island, Barnegat Light, The Dutchman’s, and more. The overall theme of the course is nautical, with recycled accents and locally sourced materials. Rhodes bought the Barnegat lighthouse sculpture from Viking Village and found tiki-style totem poles at a surf shop in Surf City. Her goal is to make it original and entertaining, but not to over-kitschify it.

“My son actually had a dream about one of the holes – and we call him Poppy – so the hole is named Poppy’s Dream, and it’s basically all totem poles in a zig-zag format. Everyone in the family had a little input in the setup and themes,” Rhodes said. “A lot of stuff came from my mom’s garage, because she has lived in her house for more than 50 years. She had a lot of nautical nets, anchors and buoys. We bought this property five years ago, but it wound up being on the same street that I grew up on.”

The final hole is known as the College Bowl, and it resembles a Skee-Ball game, taking inspiration from Island Golf.

“If you get it in the very best one, you get into the best college, and it goes out from there. These are all colleges that we went to or our kids went to,” Rhodes said. “We sort of mock one another and have fun with it.”

Rhodes and her family gather every night to play when the weather is good.

“My house is nearby on the bay and, combined, Jean and I have five kids, and they are all really close. This course really keeps the whole family together, and we make it a point to all get together every weekend,” McNamara said.

Neighbors and locals have become obsessed with the mini-golf course, too, and Rhodes often invites people over for some rounds.

“We had the Schmidt family from The Dutchman’s come over, and David Schmidt, the owner, got a hole-in-one on his (Dutchman’s-themed) hole, which is really hard. You have to thread it through a windmill. I was a waitress at The Dutchman’s back in the ’70s, so it was a really big deal to have him over,” Rhodes said.

It’s safe to say Rhodes’ shore house is more than up to par.

 

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