August 11, 2009
As miniature golf courses become fancy, Golfland is the same as it was
40 years ago
By Crystal Bozek
NORTH ANDOVER Most miniature golf courses today have waterfalls,
dinosaurs, jungle creatures, electric-powered windmills, caves and swinging
Chris Adams' 18-hole course looks the same as it did when he first opened
it on the side of Route 125 an old wooden covered bridge, loop the
loop, sand trap and a blue ocean wave are some of the bigger attractions.
That was 1969, the same summer a man walked on the moon and Woodstock made
A young Adams went in on this miniature golf venture at 1591 Osgood St.,
tickled by the idea that people would pay 50 cents for a putter and ball,
and then give it back.
"This was advertised as the Cadillac of mini-golf when it opened, you
know," Adams said, picking up a putter and giving it a swing over the green
carpet that surrounds each hole. "We had golf tournaments. It was the place
Adams, now 75, is amazed to be standing on the same course 40 years
He's had his ups and downs.
He had to lease out and then close down the course for a couple of years
after a string of illnesses and surgeries left him unable to effectively
run the business. But Adams regained his health, and in April he reopened
Golfland with Lawrence resident Ray Maclean, who saw an ad in the
The two men restored everything in the park, but they didn't change a
"It was more of a restoration than a renovation," Maclean said. "We wanted
to keep the classic course. We thought that was important."
Adams said he refuses to bend, no matter how fancy the competition
"This is mini-golf as it was meant to be," he said.
The course, across the street from Osgood Landing on Route 125, next
to Jimmy's Famous Pizza, has outlasted many of its neighbors. Offices, gas
stations, stores and restaurants have all come and gone.
"We've had to change our score cards several times," Maclean said. "It
was 'opposite Western Electric,' and then AT&T and Lucent, and now Osgood
Adams said people shouldn't be fooled by the course's simple look. It's
challenging, even for regular putters.
"Everyone is dropping millions into courses, with waterfalls and fairylands,"
Adams said. "But there is no better course than this in terms of skill. This
is a putting course. It's possible to get a hole in one here, but it's improbable
Adams likes to brag that if a miniature-golfer can land a hole in one
from a point several yards away, he'll give them $500.
"I haven't had to hand many of those out," he said, laughing.
Everything at Golfland seems to be from another time, which adds to its
charm for many people. Inside the ticket booth is a smiley-face clock, and
a sign by the course reads, "Profanity is prohibited."
"It looks the same from when I was a teenager," said Maureen Donovan,
of Lawrence, who was there with her nephews recently. "Really, nothing has
Holes are named Dog Leg, Mole Hills, Round the Mountain and Double
There is a mishmash of trinkets around the park, everything from fish
fountains from Mexico to a windmill from the Amish in Pennsylvania.
And while other miniature-golf courses have arcades, playgrounds and
batting cages, Golfland has the Gyro.
The Gyro is made up of three colorful giant rings connected to each
People are strapped in the middle of the rings and move around by shifting
Adams claims his Gyro is the original one used by NASA astronauts to
train their bodies to maneuver in space. Johnny Carson rode it on the "Tonight
"It spins you in three different directions," Maclean said, with a laugh.
"You probably shouldn't eat before getting on it."
Most adults who come to Golfland have memories from when they were children,
Adams said. Maclean can remember bringing his wife to the course years ago
when they were dating.
"Parents come in here and they'll say their parents used to bring them
here," Adams said. "It's a tradition."