(Traverse City, Michigan) Both owners and guests at Romps Water Port are enthusiastic this summer about the new 18-hole prefabricated, modular Anywhere Links, Jr.® mini-golf course from Adventure Golf & Sports (AGS) that Romps Water Port has installed. The new course uses a patented interlocking panel system and replaces a 36-hole concrete-built course that started out as a franchised course in the mid-1960s. “There was just like a checklist of things we wanted,” says John Gabriel, co-owner of Romps Water Port in Vermillion, Ohio, “And the Adventure Golf product checked all the boxes.”
“We were very excited that it was easy to install,” says Gabriel, “It was something we could install. That way, we could place the course as we saw fit. And then, if you want… you can even move it around a little bit, change it up a little. So that was nice. And the pre-cut carpet is really a winner. The old days, we would literally have to hire carpet companies to come out and glue it down and all kind of things. Having it laser-cut to the exact shape and proportion to fit the hole is another box checked: ease of maintenance.”
Romps Water Port is a 17-acre facility with a 250-dock marina that includes the mini-golf course attraction (Romps Putter Port), a heated swimming pool, an ice cream stand (the Dairy Dock), fuel and a full-service department to work on boats. It is a family-friendly marina that started in 1957 in Vermillion, Ohio and is in its third and fourth generations of family ownership.
According to Gabriel, the original 36-hole mini golf course that was installed at Romps Water Port around 1965 “…was a lot denser. The holes were smaller in length, and it was an official Putt-Putt franchise course. After so many years, around 1999 or 2000, they wanted us to re-do the course into a bigger, more elaborate Putt Putt course. This is a working-class community that we’re in and we felt the community wasn’t ready for a $15 or $20 game ticket for that kind of a course. We’re more in the $5 – $7 ticket range in our community.
“We then changed the name (to Romps Putter Port) and the color scheme of the holes; took out some of the Putt Putt obstacles and replaced them with Vermillion landmarks like the distinguished water tower in the city. We had a bridge because the city is divided down the middle by a bridge that’s blue and it’s iconic, so we had a blue bridge on the course that looks just like it.”
This past winter, the Innes and Gabriel families (co-owners of Romps Water Port) began their quest to replace the concrete-built 36-hole course. “We wanted to meet local codes and create more accessibility for people with mobility issues,” says Gabriel. “And spacing-wise, the new course is just a better flow of traffic. The other course was pretty crowded and didn’t allow for a lot of maneuvering between the holes.
According to Gabriel, his wife Carrie thoroughly investigated the options for mini golf courses before the Anywhere Links, Jr. prefabricated modular course from Adventure Golf & Sports was selected. “She literally spent months and months searching various mini golf courses and seeing what was popular,” says Gabriel. “We had a two-prong thing going on. We had to make it so it was easy to use and easy to install. We didn’t want an overcomplicated course. We wanted it to be simple and functional because we have a lot of smaller children that are attracted to mini golf.
“Ease of installation was high on the list as well. We saw where they could put it down in a parking lot if you so choose, so we thought – ‘Wow! How easy is that?’ Just snap these (interlocking panel) pieces together and you’ve got yourself a course…
“When we tore the old course out this spring, people lost their minds. They were very upset. They were very afraid that the Putter Port was gone for good…. they were very concerned that we were tearing out a chunk of memories. My wife’s parents met at that course. My wife and I met at that course. In Vermillion, a lot of people can say that sort of thing.”
Romps engaged local contractor (Herk Construction) to tear out the old concrete mini golf course and pour a new, relatively smooth concrete surface. Says Gabriel “My partner, Tom Innes’ son, Scott Innes, was handed the instructions and then he, a high school kid and Chad Rich, one of our workers, went out and assembled it per instructions. And then we were able to come along afterwards and put our obstacles out where they would best fit the course. It really turned out nice.
“We saved the best of the old course. The water tower remains, and the blue bridge is there, and there are two nautical buoys and a sign that points to Key West and various locations like that with the distance in miles. So those things are scattered throughout the course. We were able to incorporate the old and the new, so it didn’t lose its Vermillion flavor.
“These holes are now longer; they take up the space. Where the old course was par 2s, this is more par 3s.
“It’s a nicer layout…It dries out fast. The weather hasn’t been a problem at all.
“It rained this morning and they’re playing out there now. The panels drain right through… The pad drains off nicely. It’s pitched ever so slightly so the whole place dries out quickly…
“The carpet on the old course held on to moisture. You’d go to play after a heavy rain and the ball would spin water and it’d be slow, and it wasn’t nearly as nice. It was old technology. All the holes were framed with wood, and you had to sand and repaint that and freshen it up very year, and it was just a lot of maintenance.”
“The pictures they (AGS) had online of the (AnywhereLinks, Jr.) course were good, but in my opinion, they did not do it justice. When you come and see our course it really pops. It’s really a nice-looking course. It’s a quality product. And people have really taken to it. We’ve had so many compliments. And financially it’s taken off, too, so we’ve had a good start to the summer.
Adventure Golf & Sports (AGS) is a global leader in the design and installation of fun, interactive, cost-effective entertainment attractions. Besides offering the widest line of miniature golf products and design services in the world for permanent and portable / modular courses, AGS also provides numerous complementary products:
- Custom modular applications for rooftops, cruise ships, indoors / outdoors
- Multi-use game court systems for bocce ball, croquet, lawn bowling, shuffleboard, bean bag toss, and other activities
- Golf learning / practice centers, ranging from single golf hitting bays to courts for multiple players
- Putting greens for indoors and outdoors, either permanent or portable
- Pickleball and paddle tennis courts
AGS has long term experience installing custom applications for a variety of venues, such as family entertainment centers, hotels and resorts, retirement communities, military bases, universities, waterparks, as well as on rooftops, cruise ships and many more.
For more information about custom designed miniature golf courses from AGS, as well as pre-made portable systems that can be used in a variety of situations, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (231) 922-8166 or visit www.AGSGolfandSports.com.