ROARING GOOD TIME
Friday, August 04, 2017
New putt-putt business already starting to draw families
By MARK NEWMAN
Courier staff writer
OTTUMWA — If you really focus on your next putt, you’ll barely notice the roar behind you.
The latest business to open in the Quincy Place Mall is Tee-Rex Mini Golf.
"This is an idea I’ve had for many years," said Craig Payne, co-owner. "Dinosaurs are fascinating."
Behind the sound of his voice, beyond the voice of an Illinois couple playing with their grandchildren, lurked the sound effects of a 100 million-year-old jungle: The rumbling growl of animals, the roar of a dinosaur and the rustling noise of of treetops being pushed aside by something the height of a house.
"The first element I wanted was that visitors would enter a tunnel — and enter another world," said Payne.
The rest of the decor he, his wife Desi and other family worked on for months.
"We just came up with it ourselves. I’m not sure what we’ll change, but to get it broken in, we wanted to start off [simple]," said Payne.
And though it might look like it was influenced by a particular movie, a film studio answered one of his earliest questions: No, you cannot call your mini golf course "Jurassic Par."
Payne likes Tee-Rex.
Along with the jungle, Tee-Rex has a variety of dinosaurs wandering along the paths. They are high-quality replicas; they won’t be used to fire a golf ball into the mouth in order to see t! he ball pop out its nose. There is a ramp and a few other obst! acles, but for the most part, the course requires straight-forward putting with precision and just enough power.
Though the mini golf course has its grand opening on Saturday, Payne quietly opened the location two weeks ago. Gaye Bailey and her husband Glenn of Normal, Illinois, were in the area visiting their grandchildren. Gaye referred to every good putt she made as luck. After she caused the ball to ricochet off a wooden rail and pop into the hole, followed by draining a hole-in-one, Payne said it was too much to be coincidence: She was just better than she had thought.
The Baileys make a four-hour drive to spend time with family. They told Payne they’re glad there is another fun, family activity in the area. When they come back in the fall, this will be one of the places they take Jacob and Andrew, Grandma said.
On Thursday, there was one group playing the course at a time. However, the course has already been packed solid a few times. How do people know the place is open?
"People have been talking about it already," said Kelly Blegen, who stopped in around lunch time. "I first heard about it on Facebook
People who have been to the business have posted photos of themselves in a golf cart, fleeing an angrylooking dinosaur. Blegen popped in to see what the place looked like. She’d like to bring children from her family to the 15-hole indoor course, she told Payne.
One visitor who was "just looking" said she saw the opening information listed in the newspaper.
Feedback has been positive: A few people found the course easy while others felt it was really challenging, Payne said.
For now, at least, he’s decided to leave it as it stands — but changes, updates and surprises shoul! dn’t be hard to accomplish, he said.
Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Or visit 1-5 p.m. Sunday. They’ve also designed a separate party room.
For information, call 641-954-8498.