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After nearly 2 decades, Glow Putt founders play their final round before retirement

Updated: Sep. 13, 2021 at 5:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At Glow Putt in Windward Mall, players navigate a fluorescent maze of 18 specially designed holes. They tap glowing golf balls toward the cup on a darkened mini-course.

“You put it through these little boxes that we have on every other hole. They have little black lights in there. The UV of the black light charges it up. It makes it really glow,” Gerry Houser said.

Seventeen years ago, Houser and his wife, Christel, opened the business to offer fun for families who get glow-in-the-dark bracelets and flashing light finger rings for playing a round.

“Sometimes they bring their siblings and they can barely walk, but they have that little finger up in the air because they know they get a finger light. It’s so sweet,” Christel Houser said.

The couple got to know customers on a personal level. They watched children grow into teenagers and teens turn into adults who brought their own keiki to play.

Now they are retiring.

“That’s the thing that we’re probably going to miss the most, seeing the joy on the little kids’ faces when they come around that corner and start jumping up and down about Glow Putt,” Gerry Houser said.

But Glow Putt will continue with new owners Michael and Lisa Driggs, who first got introduced to the mini golf course when they were customers. They love the business just the way it is.

“Right now everything is going to remain the same, just as it has for the last 17 years,” Michael said.

“We were looking for someone who would really continue the way we have been doing it for all these years,” Christel Houser said.

The Housers opened and sold other Glow Putts on the mainland. They built and operated one on Maui that has since closed. Their first Oahu location was in Ala Moana Shopping Center, but Gerry Houser said Windward Mall was the perfect place.

“I came over here and looked at the space, and saw it was more of a family orientated mall and I said I’m all over that,” he said.

Since the day they opened Glow Putt, the Housers never turned down a request to donate golf rounds for fundraisers that helped people in need.

“And it’s come back ten-fold. It’s better than any social media that you could ever do,” Gerry said.

They will move back to their hometown of Phoenix, where Gary Houser worked as a golf instructor until he got the idea for Glow Putt.

The couple said in the beginning naysayers scoffed at their plan to put mini-golf in a mall. They said it would never work. Seventeen years later it’s still going strong.

Now it’s time for another couple to run the show.

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