Location, location, location. That's what everyone says when it comes to opening a new business — and the miniature golf course business is no exception.
Choosing the location will be the most important decision you make in planning your mini golf course or Family Fun Center. Here are some important factors to take into consideration when making that decision:
Almost any size population base can support a miniature golf course. But you should determine your budget based on the population in your area. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to calculate your population base — the total should include your local town or city, your county and other nearby communities.
Your local Chamber of Commerce should also be able to give you information on the number of tourists who visit your area, based on dollars spent. To tap into this valuable customer pool, you need to locate your miniature golf course in the tourists' destination loop - near beaches, shopping, local attractions and other recreation facilities.
TRAFFIC COUNT and VISIBILITY:
No cars, no cash! The number of vehicles that pass by your miniature golf course every day will directly affect your business. Also, locate your miniature golf course on the most visible part of your property. A beautifully landscaped or "theme-based" miniature golf course will attract more customers than any other form of advertising.
Is there a mall, theater, driving range, swimming pool, water park or ice cream parlor next to or near your facility? These types of businesses and miniature golf courses make for a great match — and complement each other, customer-wise!
If there is a competing miniature golf course in your area, you will be forced to build your mini golf course bigger and better. Miniature golf enthusiasts will play all the courses in your area, but will eventually return to the course that impresses them the most. Make that your course.
SMALLER MARKET LOCATIONS:
More and more miniature golf courses are being built in smaller market areas, because of some very cost-effective advantages. Lack of competition allows you to start with a smaller budget and upgrade your Family Fun Center as your business grows. Also, initial costs for your property will be considerably less and permits and zoning restrictions will be less expensive obstacles to overcome.
The topography of your property could have a significant impact on your budget and design. Elevation changes on any miniature golf course are essential. That means if you have a level piece of property, material may have to be brought in to make those elevation changes happen.
If water features and elevation changes aren't necessary for your location, an area of as little as 6,000 square feet could be utilized to build an attractive and competitive miniature golf course. However, for a small outdoor course, 16,000 to 25,000 square feet is recommended.
A larger piece of property allows our designer to create more natural looking elevation changes, and also allow larger and more interesting greens. Elaborate mini golf courses can exceed 40,000 square feet, allowing for the creation of massive water features and dramatic elevation changes.
Beyond the property needed for the miniature golf course itself, you also need to consider additional areas for sales, parking, storage, restrooms and possible future expansion.
THINKING ABOUT DESIGN:
Although we prefer to build from our own designs, many times over the years, we have built from other companies designs, and continue to do so... Based on this experience, we have some ideas on what to look for in a design contractor. There are many benefits in using a designer with former or continued experience in the construction process. Any "hands on" experience that your designer has acquired will result in fewer changes in the field, a higher quality product and lower construction costs overall. Artistic talent, creativity and careful attention to details will be important in obtaining the best possible design!! Look closely at the photos of your potential design/contractor's work... Water features should look as natural as possible... Does it look like they built a golf course around a beautiful waterfall or does it look like it was built around a pile of rocks, in the middle of a field? Well designed water features will pull in customers like a magnet!! Once you get your customers through the door... how do you keep them coming back?... This next section may help answer that very question...
GOLF HOLES (GREENS):
A combination of skill, luck and surprise equals FUN!!! Every golf hole should be designed with the potential for the player to get a hole-in-one... Talk about exciting, a golfer's dream!! Carefully designed greens will give your customers an exciting challenge with out causing extreme frustration. Drop holes, water traps and water holes will add the element of surprise to your customers experience! We usually design our courses with one or two water holes, how do they work? The ball is putt across a small bridge crossing a stream, if you miss the bridge, the ball drops into the stream and is swept away to land on the green below. These holes area BLAST and people love them!!!! Also you may want to look at the possibility of having greens designed with interactive play through and around scenes. This is another way to enhance the golfing experience and add fun to your golf course.
The design possibilities are endless, but keep in mind... skill, luck... and surprise!!! A mixture of each of these will keep your customers coming back for more!
Elevation changes, water features and beautiful landscaping are all necessities on today's miniature golf courses!! Also, if you do face competition in your area, a "theme-based" course maybe necessary to compete in your market. One or two large, highly visible scenes, combined with water features, will give your course the "WOW" factor needed to give you the competitive edge.