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Puttering with the possibilities

Janet Urquhart

Putt-putt golf at Highlands? I’m there.The ongoing effort to make the base of Highlands a happening place may have hit a hole in one with this idea. Putt-putt is my game, unlike the dull affair that failed to make plaid fashionable.Think about it. The course could be an Aspen original, with one hole shaped like the S-curves – a wide path that narrows around a couple of sharp corners. Bank a shot off a tiny replica of the Seventh and Main building for par, but don’t hit the little flagman.Instead of the traditional windmill obstacle, how about a tiny wind turbine – solar-powered of course. Another hole could send the ball down a mini superpipe, or a replica of the steeps at Highlands. Miss the hole and the ball goes out of bounds, where it’s taken away and you’re sent home to think about what you’ve done.The possibilities of putt-putt got me thinking about the possibilities for Highlands, which has struggled to reach a critical mass of attractions and people that can keep businesses afloat there outside of ski season.That’s when it hit me – a stroke of genius that rivals my putting stroke. Turn Highlands into old Aspen – the place everybody is complaining we’ve lost. Putt-putt golf is just a smaller version of the original. Take the concept and run with it.Iguana’s is closing? No biggie. Put Cooper Street there. Or revive the Flyingdog Brew Pub.Install a bowling alley. Aspen hasn’t had a bowling alley since well before it became purse museum capital of the world and look what happened – Princess Diana, on her way to Aspen, wound up at El Jebowl instead, giving El Jebel the greatest celebrity sighting since that Al Schweitzer guy showed up in Aspen when everything was still black and white. Nothing like a night of PBRs and smelly shoes to top off a vacation, or a Friday night in offseason. That, or Highlands will be the first alley in the country with Manolo Blahnik bowling shoes for sale behind the counter.If the Highlands folks were smart, they’d install a coin-op laundry, too, then arrange to have thugs.com put the one in town out of business. A whole segment of the community would have little choice but to drive up Maroon Creek Road once a week and bowl or putt 18 holes while their clothes spin.The lower slopes of Highlands look like a great spot for a bluegrass festival, which Aspen tried out on its mountain more than a few years back.You know those outdoor movies at Highlands? I’m thinking they ought to mix it up a bit – toss in a triple-X feature once in awhile. Take the spirit of the long-gone Playhouse theater in Aspen and put it at Highlands. Roll out the occasional smutty flick, and the resulting crowd would rival the lift line on a powder day.While they’re at it, how about a natural-foods grocery store (remember Snowberries?) and the return of KFC.And didn’t Aspen used to have a head shop?Janet Urquhart wouldn’t mind an Eddie Bauer store at Highlands, either. Her e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com.


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