Do You Want To Know A Secret?

Hole-in-One

Name and age: Aubrey Smith, 57

Franchise name and description: Putt Putt Family Park is a 40-acre recreational park that houses a 54-hole miniature golf course, a game room, a golf pro shop, a go-cart track and more.

Franchise location: Memphis, Tennessee

Opened: 1963

1999 sales projections: $2 million

Fresh greens: Immediately after graduating from Rhodes College, Smith decided to turn his passion for golf into a business by buying an existing local miniature golf course. With funding from relatives, he went on to secure the lease and renovated the Putt Putt course, doing the contracting work himself. Pouring in a minimum of 60 hours a week in the beginning, Smith never stopped enjoying running his own course. "I was single," he laughs. "You can do those things when you're single."

Hole-in-one: One of the highlights of Smith's 36 years in business occurred when he was able to renegotiate a buyout clause in his Putt Putt property lease four years after signing it. "I wouldn't be able to pay the [amount] they'd ask me for on this property now," he says. "It's too valuable."

Keep your eye on the ball: Smith urges prospective business owners to be well-informed before committing themselves. "Don't hesitate to go straight to business owners who are in the same business and ask them questions--hard questions. You'll find most are very willing to open up to you and help you."

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This article was originally published in the January 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Do You Want To Know A Secret?.

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