BIG STONE GAP, VA – June 6, 2022 – Providing affordable family fun and a local entertainment option for the community of Big Stone Gap, Va., and surrounding communities is the goal of Big Stone’s Gap Golf, Miniature Golf Course, LLC.
Owned by Debra Ramsey and Philip Ramsey, “Gap golf,” which opened in mid-May, provides 18 holes of miniature golf, games, a book nook for kids, a place to sit and visit and more for its visitors. The business was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.
Located in town, close to the park, sports fields and the Big Stone Gap Visitor Center, the new business also has future plans to offer a modular, portable travel set of golf holes for rent to be used at on-site mini-golf events.
“Big Stone’s Gap Golf, Miniature Golf Course, LLC presented a strong business plan to provide an entertainment option not now available in Big Stone Gap that would appeal to visitors and locals alike, while at the same time creating local jobs,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “The business projects three full-time jobs and five part-time jobs within five years.”
Debra Ramsey noted that in addition to her and her husband, the business currently also employs five part-time workers.
The course itself features 18 golf holes and each has a marker relating a piece of the history of the town, ranging from agriculture and trains to books, nature, music, Spearhead Trails and more.
“We wanted to create a kind of living history of the town as we created the golf holes on the course,” Ramsey said, noting it’s also why visitors will find school and town hall history, long-time businesses and a hole dedicated to the Slemp family and their 172 years of combined service to the town as featured golf holes.
The Ramseys built the course and the clubhouse themselves with Debra designing the holes and Phillip figuring out how to make it all work and building them. They received help from friends, including Traci Gravely, who assisted with electrical wiring needs; and a cousin, Ramsey Black, who helped out with other aspects of construction. The Ramseys’ daughter, Sophia, designed the business website which may be found at www.bigstonegapgolf.com.
In addition to the miniature golf course, visitors will also find a Book Nook where children up to age 12 are invited to read while they wait or to take a book home with them. Books are donated to the nook, or purchased through fundraisers.
A picnic area is also available and may be reserved for private parties and out front, games including cornhole, ladder ball, throw and catch and basketball are available for patrons to play before or after their round of golf. A pre-school area with sandbox and climbing equipment is also on site. The course mascot, Golly Gopher, is also on site for photos and interaction with patrons.
One fee of $7 per person is charged and includes 18 holes of golf and access to everything else on site.
“Honestly, we could not have taken this step without the VCEDA grant,” Ramsey said. “It was the linchpin in our funding.”
The Ramseys worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in developing their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Wise County Industrial Development Authority.
“Phillip and Debra have worked hard to create a fun and engaging putt-putt business for the region,” said Becki O’Quinn-Purdie, SBDC director at MECC. “They have a desire to see entertainment opportunities for the area that give the community more options. Mountain Empire’s SBDC has enjoyed working with the Ramseys to see their startup come to life.”
Big Stone Gap Miniature Golf, located at 706 Cherokee Avenue West in Big Stone Gap, is open Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. The business is closed on Mondays. Big Stone Gap Golf may be found on Facebook, on its website or may be reached by calling 276-524-4904.
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.
About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.