Monster Mini Golf indoor course brings glow-in-the-dark fun to Cherry Hill
Indoor mini golf features arcade, virtual reality and laser maze. Cherry Hill Courier-Post
CHERRY HILL - If you play mini golf at Cherry Hill's newest attraction, you just might score a howl in one.
Monster Mini Golf is an indoor glow-in-the-dark course that immerses players in creature-themed sights, sounds and experiences.
Right next door to the Garden State Dicovery Museum and Kid Fit NJ gym on Springdale Road, the location is the first in South Jersey for the 15-year-old national franchise.
Other New Jersey sites are in Eatontown, Edison, Fairfield and Paramus.
Pete Goodwin of Delran, a co-owner of the new location, expects visitors to appreciate the uniquely themed mini golf course, which opened June 7.
"There's nothing like it in the area," he said. "Competitive, not too difficult. A lot of fun with our monsters. They love to eat you ... I mean, meet you."
That humor is par for the course at Monster Mini Golf, where colorful mascots and interactive displays persuade kids the theme is more about fun than fright.
Raising the game
"We're very interactive. That's what sets us apart. It's not just mini golf." said Randi Lister of Cherry Hill, another co-owner in the business, along with her husband Bob Lister. "It's good old family fun. You put your phones down and you hang out with the family and friends and have a good time."
Plenty of lights and music create a party atmosphere where spontaneous dance contests and other activities are announced from the "Weird Radio" DJ booth.
"We take some music requests ... maybe 'get this party started' and do some dancing with them, maybe challenge them to a trick shot," Goodwin said.
Monster Mini Golf has plenty of kid appeal, but grownups will appreciate the pop-culture references, like a mural of Morristown's Peter Dinklage with a twist on his "Game of Thrones" quote: "I golf and I know things."
The golf course is surrounded by artwork that pays homage to big stars with local connections.
There's Stratford's Kelly "Reaper" Ripa, seen hosting a talk show with Frankenstein; a "Boohammad Ali" tribute since The Champ once lived in Cherry Hill; and Lauren Cohan from "The Walking Dead," who was born in Cherry Hill.
There are also nods to iconic South Jersey locations, such as the late great Garden State Park race track.
Monster Mini Golf began booking birthday parties and field trips as soon as it opened, and also is available for group/company outings and fundraisers.
The party room resembles a haunted mansion, complete with a skeleton "fireplace" and spiderweb-motif tablecloths.
Meet the monsters
A glowing cemetery gate welcomes visitors to the whimsically spooky 18 holes.
"There's a lot of visual pop," said Goodwin.
One of the main attractions is a sleeping giant who awakens from his slumber with gruff greetings for guests.
Other moving attractions include a "cage match" between dog and cat mascots Jawbone and Eve L.
A spacious arcade area is filled with classic games such as "Space Invaders" and Skee-Ball. Monster Mini Golf also leverages the latest in entertainment tech with a virtual-reality area and a laser maze, where players have to either avoid or bust the beams.
The variety of entertainment — and the ability to be open year-round in any weather — makes Monster Mini Golf more resilient than its outdoor counterparts, Goodwin said.
He noted that he's seen a number of longtime mini golf courses close in South Jersey, most recently Maple Shade's Fox Meadow, which shut down in May.
Monster Mini Golf is only using about 11,000 or 12,000 square feet of its 15,000-square-foot building, meaning there's room to expand. Adding a laser-tag area is a priority, Goodwin said.
The father of a 19-year-old, Goodwin said he remembers the challenges of keeping entertainment fresh for his son about a decade ago.
"The choices get stale," he said. "This is something new and exciting for families and the community."
Taking a shot
Long before his new business venture, Goodwin had an affinity for mini golf. He even proposed at a miniature golf course.
But decades ago, the world wasn't ready for the indoor course he envisioned. He recalled going to a miniature golf convention in Atlantic City in the 1980s where he was told the idea would never work.
So Goodwin pursued his livelihood in the food business, rising from deliveryman to regional supervisor with companies including Domino's and Papa John's. After a stint as an operating partner in Colorado, he returned to Jersey and his golf dreams.
"I went back to try to pursue indoor miniature golf, and in my research, found out that someone has already done it."
Goodwin embraced the Monster Mini Golf concept, and actually was approved for a franchise 10 years ago. After finding the right location and business partners, the Cherry Hill franchise was a go.
Like Goodwin, the Listers are new to owning a business. Randi Lister has a background in human resources while her husband worked in sales, "but I was always an entrepreneur at heart," she said.
The founders of the Monster Mini Golf franchise, Christina and Peter Vitagliano, got their start by converting an old New England mill into an indoor mini golf course, complete with papier-maché monsters.
The concept was a hit, and now the owners of the Cherry Hill location are eager to introduce Monster Mini Golf to a new region.
The Listers' kids, ages 6 and 7½, already have served as an early focus group, and their reviews have been, well, glowing.
"They want to come here like all the time," Randi Lister said. "They want to live here."
If you go
Monster Mini Golf is at 2040 Springdale Road, Suite 300, in Cherry Hill. Hours beginning June 17 are Monday-Thursday, noon to 9 p.m.; Friday, noon to 10 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.
For more information, call 856-393-5500 or go to monsterminigolf.com/locations/cherry-hill/
Sheri Berkery is the trending reporter at the Courier-Post, covering the topics that people are talking about on social media and in real life. If you think you have a story idea that’s a “talker,” contact her at 856.486.2673 or email@example.com
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