slide

Whatever occurred to America's mini-golf courses?

thumbnail


For more than 50 years a gigantic orange dinosaur has actually overlooked a mini golf course on Route 1 in Saugus, Massachusetts, supplying a kitschy splash of color on a generally grey road.

Memorial Day is one of the most popular weekends of the year for the nation’s miniature golf courses, but this one will be the last for Route 1 Miniature Golf Course and its huge dinosaur. In an increasingly challenging business climate for old-school mini golf courses, Route 1 chose to cash-in on its property and now will close its doors for great, leaving lots of local community members distraught at the idea of losing the beloved dinosaur. It’s been there for so long, Joe Attubato, Saugus retired public works director, stated following the sale. It’s tough to imagine Route 1 without the dinosaur.

Mini golf as we know it didn’t start to take shape till the 1950’s. In 1954 Don Clayton and his Putt-Putt Golf Corporation opened a course in Fayetteville, North Carolina that included 2 unique developments: Each hole was enclosed by an aluminum barrier, and the carpet players putted on was pricier, developed specifically to sustain the conditions. It sounds easy now, however Clayton had simply constructed the only course in the area that gamers could play rather regularly, and his course s popularity exploded because of it. Within 20 years the Putt-Putt Golf Corporation had actually franchised out dozens of areas across the southeastern United States.

It wasn’t till the 90’s, following the increase of at-home technology that its appeal started to decrease.

Although there’s just scattered empirical information to explain this recession, popular figures within the miniature golf market indicate the increase of innovation as the greatest issue. Kid’s clients just look for more interactive leisure activities nowadays. It’s a phenomenon that has adversely affected industries much like miniature golf, like paintball and roller skating, which reported recessions of -6.8 and -9.7 percent in its participation in between 2008 and 2013, according to a recent Sport & Fitness Industry Association study.

In the age of computers, children aren’t as thinking about outdoor activities, stated David M. Callahan, the existing CEO of the Putt-Putt Corporation. Fifteen years ago we used to just be a skill-based mini golf brand. The Putt-Putt Corporation has actually endured by moving past its name. The company arrives at most of its profits through its enjoyable centers, which include some mix of laser tag arenas, restaurants, arcades, bumper cars, go karts and batting cages. Miniature golf has ended up being a smaller piece of a much bigger pie, and while golf-only websites used to be the standard within the Putt-Putt Corporation, today they’re few-and-far between.

We’ve had to become more forward-thinking. Callahan said. Enjoyable centers will generate considerably more earnings than simply generic mini golf. We have to provide people more than just golf. Mini golf in itself merely doesn’t cut it any longer. Courses endure nowadays by getting strange, and while that might be sordid news to the sentimentalists, it s generated an unmatched wave of creativity within the market.

D&D Miniature Golf in Tennessee sits in total darkness and is lit only by black lights reflecting off huge statues of giant mythical animals. A pop-up mini golf course in Portland required players to putt through a series of laser beams. A recent grass exhibit in Los Angeles saw architects design a range of various mini golf holes, including one that suspended the hole in mid-air with the aid of a giant, protected balloon. A mini golf course in Illinois asks users to putt their ball through an operating roller coaster. The Toledo Mud Hens transformed their AAA baseball arena into a miniature golf course during the off-season. A bar called Swingers recently opened in London and includes a mini golf course inside an underground World War II bunker.

It was all an ignorant idea at first, something I did with my good friends for enjoyable stated Steve Fox, who raised more than $53,000 on Kickstarter for Urban Putt, a restaurant/miniature golf course in downtown San Francisco. Each golf hole is handmade and crafted to appear like an art exhibition as if it were a gallery, and it has become so popular in the location that he routinely boasts up to 400 consumers on a typical weekend.

It’s unique, something different, he stated.

Go to a new miniature golf today and you’ll discover it has been delegated to the fringes; one part of a bigger experience. Mini golf in the age of computers needs to be tricked-up to work, so designers keep pressing it in every instruction, aiming to offer something so zany that people may really want to attempt. With time, courses like Route 1 Miniature Golf Course in Saugus just discovered themselves on the wrong side of that formula. That label most likely stuck for a while that we were old, and we were garish and no one liked it, Diana Fay, the course’s owner, informed a local radio station in 2014. But now that we’re leaving everyone s upset, so I think the town was pretty delighted that we stayed.

However while the golf course will quickly go, the orange dinosaur won’t suffer the very same fate.

Tim Shea grew up in Saugus and when he heard that Route 1 miniature golf course’s orange dinosaur may disappear he was so upset that he formed a Facebook group to attempt to save it. His motion caught traction, a lot so that the brand-new developer revealed he would discover an area for the orange dinosaur in the series of hotels and homes he s establishing on the land.

Even Shea chalks that up as a success. He hasn’t been to Route 1 in years. He understands business isn’t as classic as he is, however it still injures. This utilized to be a place where all the area kids would go, said Shea, who’s in his mid-50 now. There was the ice cream store next door and the dinosaur it’s iconic.