Ghost Golf’s indoor mini-golf course is the year-round Belle of the Halloween ball.
By Lisa Talley | firstname.lastname@example.org
“My favorite two sounds in the whole world are screams and laughter together.”
Daryn Coleman, the master-mind creator, and co-owner of Ghost Golf, smiles warmly as he looks over his spooky wonderland. It’s the same look you’d expect to see on someone who has finally come home after a long trip.
“I love hearing people scream and then laugh because they screamed or everyone around them is laughing because they screamed. That’s my favorite sound.”
It’s not quite a haunted house, but it’s close. Ghost Golf’s unique setting sits quietly in an unassuming shopping center on North Blackstone in Fresno. If it weren’t for the painted ghosts on the windows – no one would be the wiser as to what lay inside.
The lobby is welcoming – again, wholly unassuming – some arcade games line the walls, and a couple of tables invite you to take a load off. But it’s what waits beyond the curtain that’s the real star of the show.
One step inside and the mood slightly shifts. The lights are dim and the unnatural sound of whirring spirits ‘wooshes’ out of the speakers to set the ambiance. Players are greeted by a pair of hooded skeletons holding a single (fake) torch to guide them into the game. Each hole on the course contains a different scene that comes alive by either pressure or motion sensors set off by the players: a singing head, a dancing voodoo doll, or an unexpected blast of air that’s sure to make someone in the group jump. With all the various scary surprises awaiting the players, however, gore is one element that’s left off the table.
“I try to keep things as family-friendly as possible, I don’t like gore, and I don’t have actors. Even the things that pop up, they’re usually saying funny, silly stuff at you,” Daryn explains.
True to his word, he steps on a pressure sensor nearby that activates a moving skeleton head that cackles alive with a playful message for the golfers. “I’m only 20 years old, you know how I got here? I ate too many Dunkin’ Donuts!”
When asked how he thought Ghost Golf fared on the fright meter, Daryn gave his course a rating of 3, maybe 4.
“I just want everyone to have a really good time and enjoy themselves with their family and friends,” he shares.
Ghost Golf was the evolution from Daryn’s front yard – months of designing, weeks of building, all for a few hours of glory for one night of the year. The desire to showcase all of his work all year round pressed on him, but he didn’t know which format would be best. A haunted house seemed like the natural conclusion, but just like the front yard display, it would likely have a lifespan limited to the Halloween season. It wasn’t until Daryn and his wife, Janice, were in Santa Cruz visiting a pirate-themed indoor mini-golf course called Buccaneer Bay. It was here that a light bulb went off for him. An indoor mini-golf course that he could design with all his Halloween flair was just the ticket!
And everything is designed around the custom, handmade effects.
Unable to suppress a chuckle, he says, “Where can I put this pop-up head to get the maximum effect for it? I didn’t want to use windmills and boring stuff so here I [get] to use a little bit of fear.”
While the theme and player experience are the biggest inspiration to the design, so is practicality and safety. None of the props are within arm’s reach, and Daryn’s ADA compliant course has adapted the wheelchair access points with a unique set of bristles (of his own invention). The bristles are firm enough to stop a ball from rolling out of play but still sufficient for wheels to roll over with ease.
Beyond the eerie décor and the fun, jump-scare experience, Ghost Golf also includes free, unlimited gameplay on some select arcades including Daryn’s very own ‘Mummy Shootout.’
Imagine a classic carnival game that requires shooting a moving target with either a jet stream of water or little metal pellets. Now, replace the little ducks or clown targets with life-sized mummies either completely enclosed in a casket or halfway hiding behind an object. Oh, and you’ll be shooting targets with a laser gun that on a successful hit, one of the multitudes of mummies comes to life.
Like everything else in the course, Mummy Shootout is a creation right out of Daryn’s vivid imagination and hard work. From the ‘wrought iron’ fences, ‘stone’ walls, characters (and their voices), to the massive trees that reach down with gnarled arms. The only artwork in the building that doesn’t have his distinctive mark is the murals on the walls that create the backdrop for the golf course. That was the collaborative effort between Janice and Fresno artists.
With Halloween just around the corner, it’s a must-add to the list of pumpkin patches, trick-or-treating, corn mazes, and bobbing for apples. And the experience lives beyond the season, so for those who enjoy a haunting-good-time no matter the month in the year, rest assured that Ghost Golf will be happy to have you. Ever adapting, adding, and updating the course with new creations, they’ll be ready.
Located at 5179 N Blackstone Ave, 93710. Open Tuesday through Sunday, hours vary. Visit Ghost.Golf for more information. 559-800-0811