You've got the urge to play miniature golf but outside it's pouring rain. Or perhaps it's the dead of winter. People who live in Fort Dodge or nearby venues now have an option not widely available - they can play 15 holes without ever setting a foot outdoors.
That's what makes the House of Mini Golf, 912 First Ave. N., truly exceptional. A structure that looks very much like a three-story house is now an indoor miniature golf course.
Russ and Michelle Ruhland opened this unusual addition to downtown Fort Dodge on June 28. Michelle Ruhland said the idea for this novel golfing experience has been evolving for some time.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Michelle Ruhland, co-owner of the House of Mini Golf, shoots a ball into an old television set that’s been turned into part of a living room themed hole. The course, located in a renovated home at 912 First Ave. N., features holes designed to challenge the mini golfer — each with a different theme.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Michelle Ruhland, co-owner of the House of Mini Golf, demonstrates some good table manners as she puts her way around the set table that makes up one of the themed holes. The course, located in a renovated home at 912 First Ave. N., features holes designed to challenge the mini golfer.
"We had come back from a mini golf course and we were discussing it in the car," she explained. "My husband said 'Wouldn't it be cool if you could play it in your own house - create your own miniature golf course in your house.'"
She said the concept struck both of them as a potentially attractive business venture. They promptly commenced a search for a structure that could be transformed into an indoor golf course. That search took about two year.
"We were looking for a building and this one came available," Ruhland said, referring to the First Avenue North location.
The couple bought it and set about transforming a normal building into something quite special.
They and their two teenage children built the indoor course. Michelle Ruhland said that work was undertaken entirely by the family members.
"We did all the hole work ourselves," she said. "All the holes were designed and painted by the four of us."
Contractors were used to handle some additional renovations to the structure that were needed to bring it into full code compliance, Ruhland said.
The end result is a series of rooms that look very much like the interior of a typical Iowa home.
The holes bear names that reflect each room's theme - toy room, living room, bathroom, laundry room, kitchen, dining room, rec room, exercise room, office, sewing room.
Each room has a carefully crafted golfing challenge.
"People do have to read all the signs posted and the instructions because while some holes are self-explanatory, some are not," Ruhland said. "You have to read instructions on how to start the hole and the rules for the hole. For example, upstairs we have a foosball table where you drop your ball on the table and you play foosball until it drops out and then you putt from there. We have a pool table that we've designed the same way and a dart board."
The course has been planned with people of all ages in mind.
"Anybody who likes to come and play mini golf," Ruhland said.
She speculated that it will prove appealing to family groups, clubs, church groups and a wide array of folks looking for an experience that is definitely not routine.
"Our goal is for people to have fun and be challenged at the same time," Ruhland said. "This isn't a course that they are just going to fly through. There will be a lot of laughs and a lot of fun. That's our major goal. And to provide something different for the community."
The House of Mini Golf is open Tuesday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. On Saturdays the hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.