Contrary to popular belief, the putt putt course on Highway 74 between Hamlet and Rockingham has not changed hands several times over the years, only to fail.
“My uncle Joe Hines opened this place in the early to mid ’70s and it stayed in the family,” said Luanne Diggs.
Joe Hines passed away in 2009, and Raider Country Golf and Games officially closed.
“There were times during his ownership that the course closed for periods of time, but that was due to his health,” said Diggs. “The course wasn’t changing hands — he just wasn’t able to keep it open continuously once he got sick.”
Known as a “jack of all trades,” Hines also sold pool equipment at the putt putt business, giving many people the impression that the course had been forgotten.
The course wasn’t forgotten, and has stayed in the family. It recently went up for sale.
“My husband, Chris, couldn’t stand the thought of the business his uncle had for all those years leaving the family,” said DeeDee Hines.
Determined to revive the business Joe loved so much, Chris and DeeDee decided to “keep it in the family” and take it over. Chris is Luanne’s brother.
“It was really scary for me at first; buying a business,” said DeeDee. “But once I got used to the idea, and saw that people were coming to play, I felt a lot better.”
The couple opened the course back up the last week of April, and re-named it Lucky’s Putt and Play.
“The first month we had 96 people play, the next month we had 232,” said DeeDee. “July was tough because the heat has been so bad, but that’s understandable.”
During the summer months, most putt-putters hit the course in the evening.
“We’ve done a lot of painting, cleaning and replacing the greens,” said DeeDee. “It’s a work in progress, but I have a lot of ideas.”
Some of her ideas include purchasing inflatable water slides next summer, getting corn hole games, working on the koi pond and installing sprinklers for kids to run through on hot days.
The business already offers rentals for the popular “bounce houses,” and in about five weeks tent rentals for weddings and events will also be available.
“The tents are being made right now,” said Chris. “I think that will be in demand, because you can’t find those to rent around here.”
Being a “jack of all trades” must run in the Hines family because, like his uncle Joe, Chris has a side business available through the putt putt storefront.
“I have earth-moving equipment, like backhoes, loaders and dozers — they’re for rent or hire,” said Chris.
“That’s his thing,” laughed DeeDee. “I’m interested in the putt putt course.”
Lucky’s Putt and Play can be rented out for parties, or can be an inexpensive family outing.
The rates are $4 per person, but kids younger than 5 play free. A second round is $2 for customers who want to keep playing.
“Teenagers usually come on weekend nights, and I like to create a little competition in the bigger groups by offering a free round to the winner,” said DeeDee. “It’s all about having a good time here. It’s a very safe, family-oriented environment where everyone can have a good time — no matter what your age.”
DeeDee said she thinks the low cost of playing helps attract families.
“Taking the whole family out to do something everyone can enjoy can get so expensive,” she said. “I think people are happy to have the course open again — it’s something fun to do that’s affordable. I think it will be even better in the fall, when the weather cools off some.”
“This is our second time coming here,” said Jay Baldwin, who brought his daughter Camdyn to play. “We both have a good time.”
The course is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, open 3 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 3 to 10:30 p.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 to 7:30 p.m. on Sundays.
“I post updates on the Lucky’s Putt and Play Facebook page, in case we have to close early due to bad weather and things like that,” said DeeDee.
The course is located at 934 East U.S. 74 Hwy in Hamlet. For more information about the course or rentals, call 910-417-7707.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.