Boardwalk Mini Golf launches on South Shore with elaborate course, eager atmosphere

·4 min read

Aug. 10—BEMIDJI — Serenity Daken had never played miniature golf before Wednesday. So you can imagine her surprise when, by the third hole, she drained the first-ever hole-in-one at Boardwalk Mini Golf.

"I was very shocked with myself because I had never done that before," Daken said. "It was very surprising. I'm shocked. I still am, honestly."

Despite her rookie status, Daken and her aunt, Mandi Arlaud, were first in line on Wednesday morning to try out the newest attraction along Lake Bemidji's South Shore. The two ran through 18 holes of twists and tunnels and ramps and water hazards, successfully completing the maiden voyage on the Boardwalk's first day of business.

"It was really fun and had a good layout. The holes weren't too long, and I really liked the water ones," Arlaud said. "We've been following on Facebook and knew (they'd) be open today, so it worked out nice to come."

Putters young and old arrived on Wednesday to break in the new course and see if their short game was up to snuff.

Different strategies surfaced, too. Some took to the practice green before starting, while others confidently approached the first hole and let 'er rip. There was the conservative approach that was fine with two-putting, while others fired away with a slapshot and let the lucky bounces do the rest.

Scorecards kept the official count of strokes, but a rare mulligan — or perhaps even a discrete kicksave — allegedly fudged the numbers once or twice.

One youngster was in awe of the "secret passageway" on No. 8 — an underground tunnel that dropped the ball right near the pin — while another had to fish his ball out of the water pool near No. 17 after an unfortunate carom.

The action wasn't quite as intense as the

Birchmont Golf Tournament,

but one woman wasn't about to take it easy on her husband.

"This is funner than heck, innit?" she exclaimed. "And it's a little extra fun if I do better than my hubby, too."

Despite different approaches, different skill levels and different performances, the positive experiences were all similar.

"It's another thing to do in the summertime," said Mike Walter, an honorary caddy for his 3-year-old grandson, Owen Marty. "Normally, there's not a whole lot to do, so it was a very nice thing to see us have mini golf again. ... (Owen has) had a lot of fun with the water and trying to get the ball in the hole."

When news broke on social media of the Boardwalk's emergence,

the community liked and shared in earnest. The Boardwalk's opening now fills the void left by the Putt-N-Go Amusement Park, which closed years ago on the opposite end of town.

But Carrie Strassburg, the Boardwalk's co-owner alongside her husband, Todd, is thrilled to revive the town's mini golf scene.

"(It's so) gratifying to see people out here and enjoying it," she said. "That was our endgame. That's what we wanted. ... This community hug is super nice."

The course is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., weather permitting, seven days a week. Adults can go for $9 a round, while children ages 4-12 can go for $8. Kids 3 and under play for free with a paid adult. At the end of the course, a "19th hole" also acts as the ball collector, and those who sink a hole-in-one on it receive a free round of golf their next time out.

There's also still ongoing construction for an all-seasons snack shack, which will feature wood-fired pizza, ice cream, beer and patio seating. Strassburg expects that to open in the coming months, estimating "Octoberish."

But for now, the golf course will suffice as a popular outdoor activity in Bemidji. It may be miniature, but Strassburg hopes the impact is anything but.

"To me, it's (about) what we could do to make a successful business that would enhance Bemidji," she said. "Being able to add something nice to such a beautiful community has been super awesome."