Sink your putt, help the arts

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts' winter golf tournament is nothing new. It's a chance to putt your way through the theater, which is converted to an 18-hole miniature golf course for the weekend.

There is an evening tournament and a day for children and families. Now in its fourth year, the event formerly known as Putt Putt Palooza has a new name: The Big Mini Golf Weekend.

“We got a cease-and-desist letter from Putt-Putt LLC,” said event chairman Paul Oszkewicz. “It’s a chain that makes professional mini golf courses. They were nervous of our success.” He laughed heartily.

The event has been a big success, though, not only in raising money for the center’s educational programs but in giving a new generation a chance to explore the theater.

The golf weekend attracted 500 people last year and has raised $70,000 in its first four years.

“Children coming to the center is a joy for us,” said Kevin Boyer, the center’s marketing director. “There are a lot of people who don’t normally come to the theater, and people get to see the theater from a different perspective than when a show is on stage.”

In fact, for Family Day, there will be a big bouncy obstacle course on stage.

“We’ve added a bunch of stuff for Family Day,” Oczkewicz said. “It’s going to be a hoot.”

Miniature golf is just the beginning of the fun. This year, the reptile petting zoo and face painting will return. There’ll be a storytelling area and craft projects including making a beaded bookmark.

Lunch also is on the schedule: hot dogs or veggie dogs, chips and fruit.

“We tried to set up Family Day so you can bring your kids and run them into the ground,” Oczkewicz said. “When you take them home, they are just ready for a nap, and everybody’s happy.”

Meanwhile, tonight’s tournament gives grown-ups a chance to release their hibernating inner golfers.

“It’s adults playing putt-putt golf, and a lot of people take it very seriously,” Boyer said. “Guys put on their polo shirts, and the women will wear golf clothing.”

The Big Mini Golf Classic

What: A fundraiser for The Washington Center for the Performing Arts’ Next Generation educational programs, the Big Mini (formerly called Putt Putt Palooza) features two nine-hole tournaments on 18 decorated holes of miniature golf, a chipping contest from the stage into the seats, an auction, dinner and drinks.

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. S.E., Olympia

Tickets: $200 per foursome

More information: 360-753-8586 or www.washingtoncenter.org

Family Day

What: The miniature golf course remains open for family fun. Besides golf, there will be a bouncy obstacle course, a reptile petting zoo, face painting and lunch. The event also will include a book drive; children are asked to bring a book for South Sound reading programs.

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. S.E., Olympia

Tickets: $5

More information: 360-753-8586 or www.washingtoncenter.org