New Miniature Golf Course in Wisconsin Is an Economic Hole-In-One

Bob Moeller and his family saw the business potential in the revitalization of the South Pier District, where the Sheboygan River flows into Lake Michigan. Starting in the 1990s, savvy development of the area has turned it into a growing Midwest vacation destination. The Moeller family has invested extensively in their longtime,  hometown  lakeshore: Bob, who has a background in construction, built a condominium/retail building, one son built and owns a stake in a restaurant and another plans an old-fashioned ice-cream shop with the potential for residential above.  Their most recently completed venture is the Harbor Pointe Miniature Golf Course, which opened in summer 2010 along the seawall of the river channel.
The 18-hole course, owned and operated by Bob Moeller’s son, Justin, fittingly boasts a nautical theme, with real and faux river rocks integrated throughout the course, ponds with fountains, bubbling streams and custom theme props including a 23-foot lighthouse and a genuine vintage wooden river fishing boat. Justin Moeller said the course design fits “absolutely perfectly” with its waterfront surroundings. Harbor Pointe was designed and constructed by Traverse City, Mich.-based Adventure Golf Services, which has been in the business for nearly 30 years.
Company founder and President Arne Lundmark got his start as an owner-operator of miniature golf courses and family entertainment centers, including ski resorts. He also has served as chairman of the miniature golf committee for the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA). The company has designed, constructed and installed its products in a variety of venues in 32 states and more than 10 countries, including for the U.S. Army, Mall of America, General Motors, Royal Caribbean and Walt Disney.
Bob Moeller said they visited other mini-golf courses and family entertainment centers in order to look at designs and talk to operators. They considered a handful of companies before settling on AGS.
“It didn’t take me long to realize that (Arne Lundmark) had a lot more to offer than just building the course itself,” Moeller said. “He had answers for me about what it takes to run the business, and what it takes to generate the numbers you need to be profitable.
“(AGS) was not the most inexpensive, but I liked the fact that this guy had the answers, and he knew about this business.”
The proof of that, Moeller said, came in the first months of operation.
“We didn’t get started until late June and still generated 100 percent more income than operating expenses,” he said. “We ran 13,000 people through there in two-and-a-half months. So we’re looking forward to this year.”
Scott Lundmark, AGS vice president, said his father’s creativity and ability to assess a market has been a big plus for clients.
“He’s got this knack for being able to identify locations and taking the look and feel of what people want and putting it on paper, then making it into a reality,” Scott Lundmark said.
For example, at Harbor Pointe, Arne Lundmark conceived a unique ball return box based on a popular television game-show game: when players return their balls, they drop them through a slot and watch them make their way past obstacles to the bottom, where they might “land” on a free return pass or another prize. Scott Lundmark said the ball return serves as an incentive to customers to not only return golf balls, but to return for another round of play. For Justin Moeller, whose ownership of the course marks his first entrepreneurial effort, he got more than a product from AGS. “I feel like I got a couple mentors,” he said. –

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