PORT ANGELES — A bout of pandemic-induced boredom led to a creative outcome to address a long-standing issue in Port Angeles, the lack of options for affordable, family-friendly outings.
“My dad and I were driving to Spokane to visit my brother and we started talking about how there’s not much to do because of the pandemic, and we thought it would be cool to start something that’s safe and fun,” Barnes said Tuesday.
“I grew up here, and we’ve never had miniature golf in Port Angeles. My parents grew up here too, and I started this with them, and they don’t remember having mini golf here either.”
The facility is open from noon to dusk every day depending on weather, or in the venue’s opening week, air quality. It offers a post-apocalypse-themed 18 holes of miniature golf with a nine-hole Candy-themed course for younger kids expected to be ready by the weekend. Yard games, including Connect 4, Yahtzee and giant Jenga are available, and Barnes said she plans to add cornhole and chess/checkers to the lineup shortly.
A grand opening discount is underway through Oct. 1, with mini-golf rounds $5 for those age 7 and older, and free for ages 6 and younger. Barnes said ages 6 and younger would remain free after Oct. 1.
Barnes, who has a bachelor of fine arts degree from Eastern Washington University, said the design of the course was influenced by her fondness for a long-running horror television show.
“I really like watching ‘The Walking Dead,’ but I didn’t want to make it too gross or too zombie,” Barnes said. “I didn’t want to freak anybody out with blood and guts but I thought apocalypse and candy would be a good mix for Halloween.”
Barnes asked for donations of junk items in a post on Facebook to get started.
“I made a post asking if people had junk and kind of what I was looking for, a post-apocalyptic theme of summer having suddenly ended and everything is still strewn across the backyard and house,” Barnes said.
Six truckloads later, Barnes began piecing together the bigger pieces and received construction assistance building the holes from her dad, Rex.
“My dad and I kinda dreamt this up together, and for him, I think it was a pipe dream until I started collecting stuff to do it,” Barnes said. “He was like, ‘Oh, so we are doing this.” He’s been a carpenter his whole life and he helped figure out how to put things together and build everything.” Barnes’ mom Kelley also provided assistance in operating the family-owned venue.
“I started thinking about what would look good and what would look trashy and went from there,” Barnes said. “The main things, the wheelbarrow, the [doll] house, the swimming pool and then tried to find stuff that would go with it.”
New players will be challenged to putt through camp coolers, up and then down a picnic table and along a repurposed children’s slide, for starters.
“The picnic table hole is especially a challenge. You have to get it up and then through a hole before it comes down to the green,” Barnes said. I think that one is the hardest one.
“I tried to get 18 holes out of what I found. And I think its worked out pretty well.
“I think everybody has been pretty satisfied so far. They like the creativity for the most part, we haven’t had any complaints, and we will go from here.”
Barnes, who normally runs the afterschool enrichment program at William Shore Memorial Pool, was sidelined even before the pandemic’s restrictions by the pool’s remodel. She’s also been dealing with a neurological issue that will likely keep her away from the soon-to-reopen pool for the next few months.
“My idea is to see how it goes for the fall and stay open as long as I can, and that’s just dependent on weather, how cold it is and how late I want to be out here,” Barnes said.
“I wanted to do this as a trial run and then maybe open something more permanent in the spring. We will see how the pandemic is going and what is feasible. I’d love to find a space that could do indoor and outdoor activities. To have mini golf and other activities like laser tag or a Nerf [gun] course.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or at [email protected].