Lisa Hogle was a relatively inexperienced golfer, just two years into learning the game, when she achieved a feat that eludes many golfers their entire lives.
It was a warm evening, July 3, 2002, and Hogle, 37 at the time, was at Papio Greens golf course with a group of coworkers. When she drove the ball from the tee box of the 11th hole, she couldn’t make out its path.
But down on the green, 98 yards from where Hogle stood, her colleagues went wild as she nailed a hole-in-one.
“All my coworkers were jumping and yelling and screaming,” said Hogle, now 53.
The story remains a special memory. Papio Greens gave Hogle a small trophy to celebrate the day. She has a laminated copy of The World-Herald’s announcement of the feat. And as a member of a family full of men who golf — none of whom can claim their own hole-in-one — Hogle often exercises her bragging rights.
Many people with a connection to Papio Greens, from the families who goofed around on the 36-hole putt-putt course to the amateur golfers trying to take a few strokes off their game, recalled their own fond memories this month after the course announced in March that it was closed after 17 years.
“Thank you for making Papio Greens a fun and family-friendly place to learn and play the great game of golf,” the course said in a Facebook post announcing its closure. “We will miss you all.”
It isn’t known why the course closed. The current management has not responded to messages and emails from The World-Herald.
The golf course, which opened in the spring of 2002, first appeared in The World-Herald’s online archives in June 2001, when Ed Person, who was crowned the 2000 Nebraska Amateur champion, was in the process of building it. As of October of that year, Papio Greens was the state’s first 18-hole, par-3 public course.
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At the time, Person pitched Papio Greens as a family-friendly course unlike anything else in Nebraska. He cited the easier nature of the course, its 36-hole miniature golf holes and a floating driving range — wherein golfers hit buoyant balls into a man-made lake — as reasons the Omaha area would flock to Papillion.
“I’m trying to blend a par-3 course with some of the amenities available at larger courses,” Person told The World-Herald in May 2002. “There’s something here for everyone in the family.”
Person left the course in 2003, because it was no longer financially viable, he told The World-Herald on Monday.
In April 2010, the golf center was purchased by Southridge Church, which had been meeting at Twin Creek Cinema in Bellevue. The City Council at the time approved a special use permit to allow the church to construct a sanctuary and multi-purpose activity center on the site.
The proposal included reducing the golf course from 18 holes to nine holes.
Papillion is home to two 18-hole golf courses: Tara Hills, which opened in 1981, is at 1410 Western Hills Drive, and Eagle Hills, which opened in 2000, is at 501 Eagle Hills Drive.
After Tim and Erin Seretta’s 7-month-old son, Henry, died of acute myeloid leukemia in 2014, they decided to help other families facing pediatric cancer.
The Serettas created A Monster’s Mission, a fundraiser that directs money to affected local families and research on pediatric cancers. For the last three years, Tim Seretta said, Papio Greens was happy to host the event as its attendees played Footgolf, which combines elements of soccer and golf.
Seretta said attendees had a blast playing the game while raising thousands of dollars in the process.
“I think it’s a real loss for the community,” he said of the course’s closure.
Christian Jewell, a senior at Platteview High School, lives just 1 mile from Papio Greens.
Growing up, Jewell said he often played at the course, participating one year in a junior golf league there. He held his 16th birthday party at Papio Greens, competing with friends to see who could drive their ball the farthest.
Jewell now plays for his high school team and earned a golf scholarship to play at Central Community College next year. Papio Greens, he said, had a lot to do with his golf career.
“While it was just a little par-3 course, I can’t stress enough to other golfers that small things like par-3’s, chipping short and putting can all help your golf score,” he wrote in an email. “Papio Greens helped make me the golfer I am today.”