The long-awaited and often-teased miniature golf course at The Grove is, dare we say, just about ready to open.
Ryan Mortti, the owner of the putt-putt course, says that after a number of supply chain issues, permitting obstacles and other delays — not to mention a few premature announcements of an impending opening on Facebook — the course is now expected to open on Saturday, April 15.
“We definitely stressed ourselves to get here,” Mortti says, “but, you know, we’re making it to the finish line. Obviously, we always wish it could have been a little faster. Nobody wishes it would have been faster more than we do.”
The 18-hole mini golf course is located near the B&B Theatres Wesley Chapel, which at one point was called The Grove Theater, and in tandem with the golf course was going to be the centerpiece of The Grove reclamation project.
Back when Mortti first came up with the concept, the mini golf course project had no competition. It was going to fill a hole in Wesley Chapel.
But then, the Covid pandemic created a host of issues, and two years later, PopStroke, the new Tiger Woods-owned miniature golf course, announced it was coming to town.
PopStroke, which is corporate-owned, opened last month to rave reviews and large crowds. But, Grove Mini Golf is a family owned, more family-friendly venture.
“We’ve definitely changed a lot of things once we knew we were competing with Tiger Woods,” Mortti says. “That’s not your typical competitor.”
But, while PopStroke promises two 18-hole courses that are intended to simulate putting on a real golf course, Grove Mini Golf is a much more traditional putt-putt course, and has gone through a number of design changes since Mortti first heard the Woods-designed PopStroke was coming.
Some of those changes including adding larger visual features, including volcanoes and large waterfalls and plenty of water features throughout the course. Mortti says the planned waterfall became more prominent in the design, and more water in general was added. The course, which Mortti says is designed to have a “tropical feel,” even has a few rivers running around and through some of the holes. On one hole, you can putt your ball into one of the running rivers, which actually will carry the ball towards the hole.
And, Mortti says, nine of the 18 holes are required to be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant, but he went ahead and designed all 18 holes to be ADA compliant.
Like PopStroke, which is free of all the trappings of your traditional miniature golf course, Grove Mini Golf also offers no windmills, although there are plenty of bridges and many more family-friendly design elements. There are few moving parts — large boulders and wooden posts are the only obstacles keeping your ball from the hole. The large fire-shooting volcano and waterfalls are all there only to add to the atmosphere.
There are plenty of tiki-hut-style places to grab some shade, there are numerous mister fans and the course will likely have drink and snack stations set up at certain holes as well. “All of the moving water also helps keep the course a lot cooler,” Mortti says. “We want you to stay comfortable.”
Mortti is especially excited about the lighting, which he says had to have special ordered. Each hole is outlined by LED strips which can be programmed for a number of different effects, like colors chasing each other or fading in and out.
“The typical LED lighting is like 60, 80 or 100 LED lights per three feet,” Mortti says. “The lights we have 720 (lights) per three feet….And you can do a lot of cool features with that lighting at nighttime. The playability is going to be pretty cool.”
While PopStroke was designed by TGR, Woods’ golf course design firm, Mortti says that Grove Mini Golf may appeal more to families and younger players.
“I worked with a mini-golf guy that’s built courses for 30 years,” Mortti said. “I had him send me a list of like 100 courses he built. And I just picked some of the best holes from each of those courses and then made ours kind of off of the history of all his courses. And obviously, we changed and tweaked it all a little bit.”
When it comes to food, Grove Mini Golf is definitely simpler and more old school. PopStroke offers an actual restaurant and sports bar with full liquor, while Mortti chose more scaled-down gastronomic options like burgers, chicken sandwiches, personal pizzas and nachos, plus ice cream and snow cones, to name a few, that can be eaten on benches outside or taken on the course.
“We’re perfect for kids’ birthday parties,” Mortti says.
Grove Mini Golf also will offer beer and wine for adults.
Mortti and his crew are hustling to put the final touches on Grove Mini Golf. The greens are already playable, but the lights are being carefully placed along the holes and some electrical fine-tuning remains.
“I’m excited,” he says. “We’re definitely more geared towards that family experience, and I think everybody will have fun coming here.”
Grove Mini Golf is located at 6201 Wesley Grove Blvd. For more information, call (813) 815-7888 or visit GroveMiniGolf.com.
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