SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

May 28, 2014

Tee and ice cream

Owner sees growing market for family-friendly offerings

There’s a new cow in town.

Yes, Ipswich’s White Farms has long had a plastic cow on the roof, but their new cow, made in Gloucester, is waiting at the 19th hole of the eatery’s new miniature golf course. And if you can putt your golf ball into its open mouth, not only will you hear this cow “mooo,” you’ll get a free ice cream.

It’s part of owner Rob Bouley’s carefully landscaped miniature golf course, complete with fountains and a stream of dyed blue water running through it. He estimates the cost of construction at “a couple of hundred thousand dollars,” but he expects that the cost of running the attraction will be minimal.

Bouley, 42, said he first realized the possibilities of a miniature golf course after hearing local kids complain they had nothing to do in town. He contracted with Harris Miniature Golf Courses of New Jersey to build the attraction, which, but for the notable exception of the mooing cow, lacks any fun-house obstacles, such as the ubiquitous windmill or loop-de-loop.

Instead, Bouley wanted a course for serious miniature golfers, “a competition-type course. It keeps people coming back. ... It’s difficult, but it’s fun.”

The challenges include water traps apt to send your ball floating down a river. You learn the course over time, Bouley said, noting the way the ball reacts on each hole. He’s already given it a lot of time along with his young son. “I hold the course record,” he said, laughing.

The construction of the new course, which opened May 16, comes long after the heyday of miniature golf has waned nationally. But Bouley isn’t worried.

“I think it’s coming back. I did a lot of research. ... A lot of these family-type things are coming back.”

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