Miniature Golf Course in Red River Gorge Predicts Exceeding Annual Sales Forecast
An 18-hole miniature golf course is the newest attraction at Thrillsville Adventure Park in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. Designed and built by Adventure Golf & Sports (AGS), the Thrillsville Adventure Golf course has been open year-’round since it opened last Labor Day Weekend. “We didn’t get much play in the winter of course, but we had a really strong March and April this year,” says Ian Teal, owner of Thrillsville Adventure Park, “and we’re sure we’re going to hit all our target numbers and we’re very happy with it. We are on target to exceed our annual forecast by 20 percent.
“What’s distinctive about the course is that I also own a rock quarry, so we had an unlimited supply of really big boulders. We live in Red River Gorge that has huge rock scenery with lots of rock climbing and creeks filled with rocks, so it really fit the environment here. So when you walk the 18 holes, you’re always surrounded by massive stones and then a beautiful waterway they (AGS) built that traverse six or seven holes with a couple of big waterfalls.”
“A lot of people say it’s the best (mini golf) course they’ve ever played. It’s really amazing. It’s held up extremely well. It still looks brand new. There’s like no wear and
tear. All we have to do is take a leaf blower every morning and blow off all the fallen leaves on it and that’s all the maintenance we have to do besides treating the water. Now in a couple of weeks we’re going to get some koi (carp) fish and put in the pond for the kids. The pond connects to multiple holes so you’ll be able to see them from three different holes, including the first hole.”
Teal says part of the Thrillsville mini golf appeal is that the AGS design presents some challenges to even seasoned golfers and pays homage to some local landmarks. “The 17th hole is one of the longest holes,” say Teal. “It’s over 100 feet. And a couple of the holes match up with other local attractions. Like we have a giant arch like Gray’s Arch, which is a famous natural bridge, so AGS was able to mimic a couple of those kind of features in the design.
"We have a gift shop and a reservation desk for all our other businesses at Thrillsville, including the Red River Gorge Zip Lines, the Gorge Underground, and we also have a couple of hotels and we have about 150 cabin rentals in our management program, so you can book any of those.”
According Teal, the 18-hole mini golf course replaced a nine-hole mini golf course built in the same location in the 1960s. “We were giving refunds to people who were upset with that one,” says Teal. “It was so bad.
“I went to IAAPA, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions conference in Florida and that’s where I met Adventure Golf & Sports.”
Teal said he had considered bumper cars and go-karts but settled on mini golf because “it seemed to have the highest income potential and it’s not a noise nuisance like the other two.
“I felt really comfortable talking with them (AGS) on the phone. Then they came down and did a site visit and that went very well so I was very excited to work with them.
“What was neat about them is they subcontracted the waterfalls and other water features…and brought in an expert on water features. I think that was a very smart move on their part.
“AGS brought their own crew out of Michigan and then the water features expert brought his own crew. Then I had a local crew here that was behind the scenes doing some of the real hard labor work like transporting the boulders. We also have a hillside where we had to do a lot of landscaping so we kind of drew up a plan together and then our crew went through and did the landscaping.”
According to Teal, the location of the course presented several installation challenges. “Tearing down the old course and doing away with that concrete was the first task,” says Teal. “We also had a pretty good root system we had to deal with since we cut-out and put in brand new trees that were already 10 or 20 feet tall. And we had a big lighting plan. We had a lot of light poles, I think like 16 poles or thereabouts, which all had to be wired. We also had a main water line to deal with. And we had a watermill feature that was made locally and that took a little bit of time to get that fine-tuned for rotating.
“It was a great experience working with AGS and I would recommend them to others.”