July 20, 2004 > Karts-N-Golf
This international sport hosts professionals who compete in over 36 nations. Serious competitors on a variety of difficult "greens" vie for prestige and large cash prizes. Inches can be the difference between glory and also-ran status. It takes skill and nerves of steel to compete successfully. Is this a description of championship golf? Yes...and no. This is the sport of "Mini Golf" and the wonderful part about it is that everyone can try it out without incurring outrageous greens fees, special equipment or groups of "serious" participants scoffing or verbally wishing you off the course. For most "duffers," participation is fun and enlivened by a variety of interesting and often fanciful obstacles. There are plenty of places to try your luck and skill at this sport and one of them is close by in the Tri-Cities.
Tucked into the back of a small retail center, behind a gas station and car wash, across the street from Ardenwood Regional Park, is an attraction sure to please the whole family. Karts 'n Golf has been testing Tri-City miniature golfers of all ages for the past twelve years as well as supplying thrills of go kart racing and bumper cars. Traveling along a path threaded between two eighteen-hole courses interspersed with ponds and waterfalls, a series of batting cages comes into view. Here the sound of bat meeting ball can be heard as recreational and serious hardball and softball hitters perfect their swings against machines that can send either fast or slow pitches. Entrance to the park is free and all are invited to come by and test their skills at any or all of the attractions.
General Manager, Darrell Gillo has been working at Karts-N-Golf for the last ten years watching golfers tame either the 18-hole "jungle" course or its complimentary 18-hole "western" course. Although the difficulty level is approximately the same for each course, Darrel says that he often changes the layout to challenge golfers and create variety for regular patrons. While on the "greens," the buzz of motors can often be heard as racers tackle the 800 ft., banked Go-Kart course (4'10" minimum height) available with single and double seats and those with more combative tendencies board Bumper Cars (38" minimum) to challenge their friends in companion cars. According to Darrell, Bumper Cars are a safe ride, even for small kids.
A picnic area with benches and tables is offered as a free amenity for those visiting the park. Perfect for birthday parties, family or company outings, reservations are on a "first come, first serve" basis. When picnic space is available, park visitors are free to use the facilities to grab a bite to eat between rounds of golf or challenging friends in Go-Karts or Bumper Cars. Although food is not available at Karts-N-Golf, several restaurants, a convenience store and a Jack in the Box are a few steps away. Darrell can help make arrangements for a catered pizza party, barbeque or other types of food for groups, if desired. He also adds that groups can always bring their own food and use the tables.
Baseball and softball enthusiasts are usually busy at the far end of the park in six batting cages that sport the newest equipment available. Balls can streak across the plate at speeds ranging from 40 mph to 70 mph and can be adjusted for all ages. Bats and helmets (required) are on hand for use, free of charge, with picture ID. Batting cages are rented on a first-come, first-serve basis. A token ($2.50) allows a batter to face 25 pitches. According to Darrell, an hour rental of a cage ($42) can result in a batter, or batters facing 600-700 pitched balls! Since the park is well lighted in the evening, all activities, including batting cages are open during park hours. Darrell says that the most popular times for batting cage rental is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Group rates and "Fun Packages" can reduce the reasonable rates at Karts-N-Golf by up to 20%. Combinations allow guests to combine a round of miniature golf with a Go Kart ride and/or a Bumper Car ride and save a bit of money. Each of the attractions is available for exclusive rental by groups. Call or access the Karts-N-Golf website for more information on rates and availability.
"Karts-N-Golf attracts a very wide range of ages," says Darrell. He says, "Some Seniors come here to play golf regularly and the batting cages are used by sports enthusiasts from 8 years old to 60 years old! We are basically a family fun center."
Darrell says that he is open to using one of the miniature golf courses as a fund-raiser for a worthy nonprofit group. The Newark Chamber of Commerce has made use of the courses for an annual fundraising event and a San Jose chapter of "Operation: MOM," a support organization for soldiers and their friends and relatives, recently made use of Karts-N-Golf for a fundraiser. "I am interested in helping with more of these activities in the future," says Darrell. He is open to working with charitable organizations that need a venue for a fundraising event.
One of the nice things about Karts-N-Golf is that entertainment is pocketbook friendly. "You don't have to pay to enter and stand in line for a ride. Miniature golf is affordable and a fun hour or two for the whole family." He adds that for couples on dates, miniature golf is a great ice breaker. "We aren't like a movie where you simply sit and watch the action. At Karts-N-Golf, we provide people the chance to interact and have fun together with activities that can be challenging, competitive, and above all fun."
34805 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(Across the street from Ardenwood Historic Farm)
Monday - Thursday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday - Saturday: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Karts-N-Golf is currently looking for someone to help manage the facility on a part-time basis. Darrell says this could be a perfect job for a retired person who would like to make some extra money. He also needs a helper for landscaping the grounds.