Unlike the art of mastering the perfect pint, Four Father’s Brewing co-owner Mike Hruden found out the hard way he needed to work on his pickleball skills.
It was during a vacation with one of his partners to Naples, Fla. that he first played the sport that continues to grow in popularity.
“For a little break we went down to Florida at the end of February,” Hruden said.
“I had seen pickle ball before in arenas. When I take my kids to hockey I would see older people playing it in the gym areas. I never really thought much of it. I thought it was kind of a slowed down version of tennis.”
While touring around the city that sits on the Gulf of Mexico, they came across a complex that featured roughly 165 courts.
He couldn’t believe his eyes as he walked around, the courts were full. It was time he finally gave the sport a try.
“At that time it was mostly seniors and we thought we’d get a couple rackets and fool around,” Hruden said.
“We played this older couple and we learned pretty quickly that we weren't that good and they were great. I don’t even know if we got any points on them.”
After a few practice games and some tips from the couple, Hruden and his friend started to get the hang of it.
The ease in which they picked up the sport sparked an idea in Hruden’s mind.
He knew he had some open space in the back of his brewery at 125 Guelph Ave. in Hespeler and a long-term vision of making it a go-to destination for people in the community and beyond.
“I fell in love with it, it was so much fun,” he said.
“We loved it so much that we created two courts here. Staff have been really into it. On Monday’s and Thursdays a bunch of our buddies come in and play for two or three hours.”
As interest has grown, so has Hruden’s ideas for the courts.
“At the start of the year we want to extend it two more courts,” he said.
“We’ll fill cracks in the court, get them properly painted, put in proper netting and figure out washrooms and entry ways.”
The first order of business is to fix up the courts and create a way for people to sign up and schedule group outings.
The eventual goal is to offer memberships and have it serve as a pickleball club of sorts that features the full service of food and beer that the brewery has to offer.
“One of the things we want to do is grow into a destination brewery,” Hruden said.
“We want to offer more that the community can get involved in. We want people to come to Four Father’s, whether near or far, and spend the day doing things with friends and family. We’re very family focused.”