Mini-golf is a staple of the family outing. A friendly competition blended with interesting courses, themes, and all sorts of unique factors. It’s the sort of thing that appeals to all ages and can bring families back for years to come. “It’s just a fun family thing to do,” says John Hutchins, the General Manager of Wild Animal Lagoon. “I think the appeal is the excitement of competition mixed with the fun of family.”
Mike Baroni, President of Holiday Hill Miniature Golf, agrees. “I think the reason is because, number one, it’s outdoors, so it gets kids out of the house, and parents are always looking for something like that.” He adds, “The other thing is parents love to see their kids have fun alongside them. So many, especially younger kids in 2017, are attracted to their video games and their iPods, so it’s great to get them involved in an activity where everyone can have fun.”
Making a great miniature golf course isn’t all that simple, though. For example, the reason that many courses are themed is to appeal to the youngsters in the group. Wild Animal Lagoon does this by incorporating a jungle and safari elements into the course. “We are trying to create a theme with the noises and the sound effects,” Hutchins says. “I think it helps to stimulate the kids.” They even scatter fun animal facts throughout the course, giving parents a chance to educate the kids while they play.
On the other hand, Holiday Hill goes for a traditional Cape Cod aesthetic, as Baroni feels the theme is secondary to making the holes challenging for both adults and kids. “It’s all about making sure the participants have a good time,” he explains. “You want to have holes that are challenging, but not too hard that the kids get frustrated.”
He argues that it’s better to focus on keeping the grounds immaculate and the holes fun. “Because we’re themed like an authentic Cape Cod course, we don’t put in plastic windmills or elephants. We keep it aesthetically pleasing.” Instead, Holiday Hill puts a lot of focus on landscaping and gardening, planting hundreds of flowers and putting lights into the waterfalls and ponds for evening golfers. The approach is effective, as Baroni notes that visitors frequently request that Holiday Hill not “change into a ‘new themed course’ and just keep it as it is.”
While Hutchins may not quite agree with the lack of elephants, agrees that a good mini-golf course shouldn’t make the holes too easy. “I think we stand out because our course is a little more challenging than the average course, which the adults and teenagers like,” he says.
He also agrees that maintaining the grounds is incredibly important to the customer’s experience, stating that his staff’s greatest focus is, “keeping it clean, keeping it friendly and keeping the customers happy so everybody has a good time.”
Both Holiday Hill and Wild Animal Lagoon believe that golf isn’t the only thing that should be on a good course. Ice cream parlors, arcades, and gift shops tend to be the most popular choice, as they help keep the kids happy, even after golfing is over. Holiday Hill even plans on adding a petting zoo, which is something people of all ages can enjoy. Baroni says, “It’s great for families, and it makes it more of a destination than a two-hour activity.”