Ottawa-area family plays mini-golf in a winter wonderland

For many people this winter, the COVID-19 lockdown has been a source for inspiration to build snow forts, luge tracks or super-sized skating rinks.

For an Ottawa-area couple dreaming of warmer days, they transformed their backyard into a nine-hole mini-putt golf course.

There are twists and turns, tunnels and hazards. Kris Mangione says his backyard 'COVID putt-putt' flows like a real golf course should. 

"It's a creation of COVID necessity of boredom and nothing else to do," said Mangione. "I think it was the fourth of January when I first started kicking snow around."

And it went from there.

Mangione continued putting around outside, building the walls of snow taller to nearly two feet, using a Mason’s towel and a broom. 

His wife Alia Whittingham helped with the fine-tuning, but admits that she mostly sits back and watches him.

However, this outdoor marvel is more than just fun, it's relief.

The couple are frontline healthcare workers and getting outside for exercise, and some play, takes their mind off of the stress of hospital life.

"We were definitely struggling at the beginning when everything was going on," says Whittingham. "But this made it nice because we could just get out and listen to music, put the fire on and relax."

The outdoor fire pit, along with the snow couch, is what they call the 'tenth tee', which also features live entertainment.

Building a backyard golf course, inspired Mangione to write a song.

And it's fitting, while he strums his acoustic guitar, he sings about lockdown life, building his golf course and spending quality time with his wife.

Driving home the message, to make the most out of tough times. It also serves as a serenade to Alia and their baby-to-be.