VIRGINIA – It’s actually weird when friends and family say, “Wow, it’s really fast!” Considering that we started working on this project a little over a year ago, we always have Feeling that things are going too slowly. We have learned a lot over the past year and patience, focus and perseverance are high on this list.
Let us introduce ourselves. We’re Steve and Tanya Carlson, and we’re very excited and a little nervous to show you greens on Forteenth, a mini golf course at 110 S. 14th Ave. W. in Virginia, to present. This project is truly a dream that we have been working towards and we hope everyone loves it as much as we do.
The idea really started with an hour long chat while hiking in the woods. We are somehow breaking the norm here. Instead of investigating the option and all the details, costs, time and labor that would be required to build it, we decided to do so and find out along the way.
We were definitely at a point in our lives where we were ready to take on a challenge and do something different. We looked forward to doing everything we can to make this project a reality.
Someone recently told us that we are very ambitious and that was so sweet to hear. To think that others thought this about us was a huge compliment, especially if they could see our house now! We’re pretty much a mini golf museum at this point. Each room is filled with golf balls, clubs, boxes of scorecards, statues, toiletries – whatever.
Last winter, when we were trying to design a small clubhouse, we had outlines of duct tape on the living room floor. We’d laugh at our dog Chewy if he took a nap in the outline of the mechanical closet. We also had the giant golf course poster plan that swam around the house and we hid it when someone came to visit.
That also brings up a funny point. We haven’t told a lot of people about this little (big) secret in months. The only people who knew about it were those involved – contractors, city officials, and our business advisor.
We were extremely focused on the bottom line and worked diligently on the next task each day until we could present a business plan to the lenders. After many months of planning and some bumps, we met up with NRCCU in Virginia. We can’t thank them enough for taking a risk with us.
Finally, after about six months, we started telling a few family members and friends about it. Our children were absolutely amazing as they saw their lives turned upside down. They have seen their parents at their best and worst, too, and they are still holding on to us!
In June 2021 we were finally able to start construction. That first day we saw heavy equipment move dirt, it was a pretty memorable moment. And a little bit scary! We had the running joke in our house: “Now it’s too late to get out. Right? “We never meant to back off, it was just fun to say.
July 26th is the day our Harris Golf crew arrived to begin building greens at Foreteenth. That was an incredible and busy 24 days in a row!
We totally loved attending the course and watching the work progress every day. These four workers were completely immersed in this project with us, and together we made a lot of adjustments and small changes to the track while it was being built.
We loved how the workers incorporated all of the local rock and waterfall system that were part of the design. It looks absolutely stunning! We watched as they handpicked the stones for each layer.
Every day we arrived our foreman Ray said he couldn’t wait to show us what they were working on and he wanted our input. When he thought of making a bank a little higher, we said: yes! Turn the rocks up instead of flat? Yes indeed! We were all for anything that would make greens unique and interesting.
Let’s talk about some of the details of the greens. The putting green has a fun slope where we imagine toddlers running up and down. Hole 1 is not too hard with a slight double slope, which gets the game going. Hole 3 is one of our favorites as it has a huge slope on the right hand side to putt on and around and land near the cup. Hole 4 is the first special shot with a funnel through which the ball travels down and out of the rocks below. Hole 6 is a tricky shot with a thin strip of grass to aim at or take the scenic path and set it aside.
Hole 8 was a bit of a dilemma for our crew. They built it and thought it was too easy. Because of this, we had to make some changes. We added a huge rock and wooden stakes on top of a small hill on the left. Now we have a challenge!
Hole 9 has been a favorite on paper for the past 10 months and seeing “Donut Drop” come to life was very special … four circles that connect and fall. It contains a tunnel.
Hole 11 was the toughest build as it is a straight shot up the hill that curves down a rock dam. We call hole 13 “putt, splash oops”. A stream runs to the left. We’ll give you a little tip – it’s okay to hit the ball into the water. It’s actually the highlight.
Our 9-year-old calls hole 14 the coolest jump shot. It has a pretty good slope. If your ball rolls in the water, that’s fine too. All of our balls are floating and we have nets for you to get them out.
Greens doesn’t have a heavy theme like dinosaurs or pirates. However, the course has a few themes. For us it feels like a little vacation in the middle of the city with the beautiful, tree-lined backdrop. That feeling of a relaxed, fun vacation is how we wanted others to feel.
Landscaping and bright colors are a big part of this project as they match the vacation feel we envisioned. We placed a few small and not-so-small creatures along the course that are quite photogenic and ready for some attention.
Our first season will be September and October. We plan to be open from May to October in the following seasons. The course is now open. The lighting and the completion of the clubhouse will follow.
We plan to have leagues and tournaments in the future and will also be working on a season pass for next year. Right now we’re looking forward to our first week of golf and can’t wait to share everything on our Facebook page.
We are very grateful to everyone who participated and are just as happy to see this as we are. You are great! If you haven’t visited us on social media yet, we’d love if you jump to the Forteenth Facebook and Instagram pages on the Greens’ Facebook and Instagram pages and see what we’re up to.
To reiterate what we said in our first public announcement, we want to have more fun, and we think you might want to have a little more fun too! That is our goal. Plain and simple. See you at Greens on Foreteenth. Mini golf and have fun!
We are now open and we warmly welcome you to play a round of mini golf.
We’d like to especially thank Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation and the Virginia Economic Development Authority for making this project possible.
Steve and Tanya Carlson live in Virginia. You are the owner of the Greens on Foreteenth.