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How to Start a Miniature Golf Business
A round of miniature golf appeals to just about anyone who wants to play an interesting game with a mix of easy and difficult holes. Today’s mini courses are no longer built with the windmills and dragon’s mouths waiting to swallow the golf ball. Instead, they resemble full-sized golf courses, with features that make the course challenging enough to make your customers want to come back and try to improve their score.
Determine who will play at your course. For instance, your primary customers may be tourists if you want to build in a popular destination. Talk to your local chamber of commerce to get statistics on how many tourists come to your area each year to get a feel for the potential market. Attracting the local population means you need a strong market of families with kids, teenagers or active senior citizens who come back several times each year to play the course.
Decide whether you want to build an indoor or outdoor course before looking for a suitable property. Cold or rainy weather limits you to making money in warm weather only if you choose to build an outdoor course. An indoor course gives you the advantage of staying open all year, although you lose the curb appeal an outdoor course offers. For an outdoor course, you need about .5 acres of land, according to Premier Amusement Developers, a miniature golf construction company. The company suggests a minimum of 2,500 square feet of space to build an indoor course. Location is critical. Look for a spot near other recreational opportunities or shopping malls to take advantage of the traffic.
Build the Course
Hire a landscaper or architect experienced in designing golf courses to draw the course and features. Work closely with the designer to explain your ideas for the layout, which should include banking, sand traps and water features to make the game more challenging. If you’re on a strict budget, keep more elaborate themes or rock work to a minimum, says MGC Developers, a turnkey miniature golf course construction company. Once the drawings are complete, it’s time to hire a construction crew to build the course. MGC Developers says it takes from six to 12 weeks to build a course.
Staff your course with at least one person to sell tickets and handle any minor problems that occur during slow times. Hire an extra person or two to handle larger crowds and provide cleanup during peak times, such as on weekends. If you sell food, hire people to take orders and cook the food. Arrange for a staff member to pick up trash, water plants and tidy up the course so it looks attractive and inviting in time to open the next day.
Provide fliers to other businesses, such as motels and restaurants, if you want your course to appeal to tourists. To attract locals, hold a big grand opening event and invite the press to review the course for free. Encourage local organizations, such as church groups, schools and family- or kid-oriented associations to enjoy some fun at your course by offering group discounts. During slow times, offer two-for-one rounds of golf.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.
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