Hendersonville – Miniature golf in Hendersonville is in the process of moving to another small park north of downtown, where if citizens get their way, there will be longer holes and far better visuals representing local historic and scenic attractions.
That is among the consensus views from a recent public input session.
Patrons can still use the current city-run Laura E. Corn Mini-Golf Course in Boyd Park until its season ends Oct. 2. The course debuted in the fifties and was renovated six years ago, Public Works Supt. Mark Stierwalt noted. He oversees city-owned structures.
The current course is off of Bearcat Boulevard/Eighth Avenue, and near Hendersonville High School (HHS) and Bruce Drysdale Elementary.
The course shares an island with Hendersonville Fire Station No. 1. This island splits southbound and northbound U.S. 25/Asheville Highway and runs parallel with HHS. The mini-golf and two tennis courts are moving out of there. City officials said this enables doubling the size of the adjacent fire station to a new 19,750-square-foot two-story facility and improving fire trucks’ road access. More tennis courts will be built in the large Patton Park.
A block or so north is where the city is developing a new mini-golf course, a playground, and shaded benches. This is in Edwards Park, fronting North Main and Locust Street. It is right by Five Points and Pop’s Diner. The park will share 44 parking spaces in the lot of the adjacent VFW Hall. The new course is due to open in the summer of 2023.
This Edwards Park project is moving along in terms of financing, zoning, and contracts. The Hendersonville City Council on June 2 authorized City Manager John Connet to work out a contract for up to $350,575 for Harris Miniature Golf Courses Inc. to design and build the new course. A discussion item to approve the project’s guaranteed maximum price will likely be on the agenda for the City Council’s meeting on Aug. 4.
The City Planning Board on June 13 unanimously recommended the City Council approve rezoning the new 1.5-acre site to R-6 high-density residential. The board concluded that R-6 permits uses “compatible with surrounding land uses.”
That proposal is on the agenda for the council’s meeting on Thursday, July 7, that starts at 5:45 p.m. in the City Operations Center (COC). Edwards Park is the eighth and final public hearing. City Planning Division Manager Matthew Manley will present the proposal.
The City held a public input “In-Putt” session on the new course’s design features. The two-hour walk-in session was May 16 in the COC. Citizens saw a planning map of the new site. There were interactive stations where they jotted down ideas on small pieces of paper to set priorities for features, including noting which aspects of existing golf holes they wanted to see on the new course.
By now, “we’ve moved beyond the collection phase, and have started translating the feedback into a feasible plan for the course,” City Communications Mgr. Allison Justus said last week. “Specific plans for the features have not been completed yet. But we are working with local collaborators, the course designers, and our Public Works Department to take the feedback and make the course at Edwards Park unique to Hendersonville.” Justus noted, “individual features of the course will not need formal approval.”
The difficulty of the course is a prime decision. There may be a few more challenging holes for adults, but mostly ones younger children can handle since the standard is a doable hole-in-one on every hole, city officials Stierwalt and Asst. City Mgr. Brian Pahle said.
They said many citizens called for longer holes than those on the current course. Some like having a mini waterfall flow, to symbolize Looking Glass Falls. Some mini-golfers said they enjoy putting along a bridge over an imaginary French Broad River, such as on the current seventh hole.
A central choice is whether to depict attractions solely or mostly within Henderson County, such as the Historic Courthouse, Jump Off Rock, and Carl Sandburg Home, or whether to also include the Biltmore House, Chimney Rock Park, and other area landmarks.
The existing course’s holes have small signs about their themes. Existing holes include a model church, a small apple packing house, and a photo of the Biltmore House. Better visuals are a prime wish.
A large visual is rock work that represents the stone Biltmore House. The giant bear statue is even more of an odds-on favorite to move from the current to the new course. It represents Grandfather Mountain.
An apple—representing the county’s most famous commercial product—is among the ripe suggestions for new visuals.
Stierwalt and Pahle also said many people suggested having three-dimensional miniature building replicas for major attractions — even for major buildings along a mile-long Main Street. One idea is to wind a golf hole around to represent a serpentined Main Street, requiring many ricochets to reach the hole.
Eight of the 18 holes will be handicap-accessible, Pahle said. Preliminary plans are for some large shade trees, and about 17 plants.
Eric and Katy Gash went to the input session. Mrs. Gash is the statistician for Bearcat football. Current Drysdale Elementary principal Eric Gash was a Hendersonville High and UNC star football defensive lineman, and a recent HHS head football coach and A.D. In his teen years, he and a handful of longtime friends competed locally in such sporting activities as mini-golf at Boyd and bowling.
The current course is named after Laura E. Corn, the “Putt-Putt Lady” who worked there for 37 years until retiring in 2009 at age 81.
Meanwhile, for fire station expansion, the city will apply for a $70,000 state water resource grant for a “rainwater harvesting system” and permeable pavers. ADW Architects in Charlotte is handling the station’s design.
Mini-golf at Boyd Park is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. From Aug. 29-Oct. 2, hours are 4-9 p.m. Friday and 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. The fee is $3 per 18-hole round for those 18 or older; $2 for youths ages 3-17; and free for toddlers who are with a paying adult.