Food & Beverage Sales Increase After Adding AGS Mini Golf
Last year, Club 24, a sports bar and grill in Caro, Michigan, opened an 18-hole miniature golf course behind their facility and adjacent to a portion of their outdoor patio. Designed and installed by Adventure Golf & Sports (AGS), “I thought it would attract more people from town and increase business by maybe ten percent,” said Ross Downing who, with his wife Linda, own Club 24. “I was wrong. 90 percent of the people who came to golf came in to eat. It increased our food and beverage sales around 30 percent!
“Once the golf course opened, we had to put extra bar and grill staff on every day. I like to be busy from opening to close and that’s the way it was when the mini golf course was running.”
The 18-hole miniature golf course at Club 24 was built in the fall of 2021 using the AGS Modular Advantage Mini Golf system. According to AGS, this miniature golf system is eco-friendly - made from recycled materials and using interlocking flexible panels that are 100% permeable for excellent water drainage. The company says the Modular Advantage system provides the look and feel of a permanent concrete course but has less costly installation compared to concrete and can be designed not to interfere with the natural landscape of trees, flora and fauna.
According to Downing, the Modular Advantage system was appealing on several levels. “We probably won’t have to replace the felt frequently since it’s not on cement where you get pooled water when it rains and swells. Water runs right through it. You don’t get heaving. You don’t get wear and tear…Out here my water table is extremely high and anything you can do eco-friendly is the way to go about it.
"I told (AGS) I wanted an awesome golf course with lots of water, streams, bridges and waterfalls. I wanted it to be like a wilderness. I didn’t want windmills and gimmicks like that out there. I just wanted nature.”
Downing is a veteran of turning food and beverage establishments around. “I worked in restaurants since I was 15. At age 34, I went into the restaurant business myself and bought one, then two and then a third. I’ve bought and sold more since and now own three. Most every restaurant I bought was in trouble and I turned them around.”
Club 24 was no different. Purchased as a full-service restaurant (JJ Jamokes) featuring American cuisine, situated on 20 acres and promoting views of “deer and wild turkey” on the landscaped property, Downing ran the restaurant “as is” for about two years. He then turned it into a sports bar and grill which he felt would better fit the demographic and fill an atmospheric void in the community. Today it features an open floor plan with 32 HD Televisions and serving chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches and such, along with 16 beers on draft, 8 of which are Michigan made craft beers available in a beer flight to sample more than one.
“And with all that land,” said Downing, “I had thought of adding a driving range, putting in a park with go-karts. But mini golf seemed to be the least labor intensive and it attracts everyone from four-year-olds to 84-year-olds.”
Downing says AGS was “easy to talk to. They nailed the design. And the (installation) crew on site was so professional. So nice. They were very accommodating. There were one or two things where we ran into some snags and they gave me choices to reconfigure a hole one way or the other and it all worked out. They did basically what they said they were going to do. I can recommend them.”
Water elements are woven throughout the course. “There’s a hole where the players chip into the water,” say Downing, “and (the ball) goes down a stream and comes down another level on another green. It’s unique. I get a lot of compliments on that. I think you cross streams six times and there are four waterfalls and a big pond with fountains.
“ …I was told (by guests) hundreds of times over the last season that I have one of the classiest mini golf courses they have ever played.”
According to Downing, the miniature golf course is so attractive, people ask if he sells lots on which to build homes close to the golf course. “It’s not your typical mini golf course,” Downing says.
The Club 24 miniature golf course opened mid-May of 2022 and ended its first season October First. This year they plan to open the First of May and, depending on weather, stay open through October.