On a recent day, Emma Penrose of Dayton, Ohio, joined a friend to play all 54 holes of the course, which is divided into three 18-hole sections (Old Testament, New Testament, and Miracles)
“I think it’s a fun way to kind of go through the different stories of the Bible,” she said. “I’m typically not a very religious person, but I think it’s sweet.”
Thirty-five years ago, owners Tom and Sally Christopher had a revelation. Sally said it was “a God thing.”
Tom, who handled the finances for the ice center, purchased it in 1988 when the owner decided to sell. He knew it wasn’t making much money but didn’t want to see it close.
He and his wife became true believers that a miniature golf course could save the struggling ice center and maybe a few souls.
Tom said, “If God can use an accountant and a housewife, He can use anybody.”
So, they sat down at their kitchen table and designed a mini-golf course, using the Bible to make the blueprints. It took them a year to fully plan three different courses that lead golfers through the Bible, from Creation to the resurrection of Jesus.
Sally said they would sketch various holes and make cardboard models. “And as we were drawing, Tom would say, ‘We can’t do that, or we can do that.’ We’d think about it, pray about it and decide. “
Tom did almost all of the work himself, from pouring the concrete to building waterfalls. Sally handled the landscaping. Now golfers come by the multitudes to have a whale of a time (just like Jonah) getting past such obstacles as a burning bush or a lion’s den.
Sally said she loves to watch players who want to understand the inspiration for each hole, such as the story in Exodus when Moses put his staff in the Nile River and turned the water into blood. That hole is covered in carpet that goes from blue to red.
“I’ve seen a little child saying, ‘This is the river, this is the blood.’ You know, just jumping back and forth. They’re getting into the story.”
Most of the course is a leisurely stroll through the scriptures, but it takes amazing grace to get past one cone-shaped hole that is labeled “Mount Sinai.”
“Yes, and I’ve seen a few people lose their religion over that hole,” Tom laughed. “One man, I can remember specifically on that hole, said, ‘I’m about to cuss, but I’m going to hold it back.’ And he took 139 strokes before he got in Mt. Sinai.”
Frequent golfer Devon Hart said the hole is one of his favorites because it is so unique.
Tom purposely designed the course with an equal number of challenging holes and easy ones. For example, it takes just a gentle tap to get a hole-in-one on the “Seventh Day of Creation” green. That’s because it’s the day God rested.
Even though Fairway to Heaven is a little off the beaten path, hidden away in a Lexington neighborhood, it gets a lot of visitors. The business really picked up a few years ago when The Travel Channel listed it as one of the Top Ten Most Unique miniature golf courses in the country.