North Shore mini-golf course turns 50
Staying true to its entertainment roots, the Kings Beach Miniature Golf course turned 50 years old this summer.
Surrounded by property that a Sacramento-based developer plans to redevelop into a commercial mixed-use facility, the little golf course has stood strong since 1957 and intends to keep on standing for years to come.
The Kings Beach icon, a funky splash of color in the downtown corridor, holds a special place in the hearts of its loyal customers. Visitors and locals alike have played the course annually since their childhood, and are now passing on the summer tradition to their children. Their smiles are captured in aging photos pinned up on a memorabilia wall named “Putters of the Past.”
Chris Mooney was one such customer. Her family played the course regularly, and it was during one round of golf that she saw a tiny for-sale sign tucked away in the back building.
“You would have had to been playing here to know that it was for sale,” said Mooney, a second-grade teacher at Kings Beach Elementary School.
In 1998, Mooney and her husband, Frank Mooney ” who serves on the North Tahoe Public Utility District’s board of directors ” purchased the local landmark from its original owner, Carl Boberg. Boberg was in his 80s when he sold the course.
All of the imaginative course obstacles were Boberg’s original creations, although some have been replaced due to the wear and tear over the years. The bright green, yellow and red rotating-dice, the spinning rocket ship, red windmills and an obstacle modeled after the Ta-Neva-Ho, which is now the Cal-Neva, are all Boberg’s designs.
And the course retains its 1950s charm, something that Boberg would have wanted, said Mooney, who repaints the entire course each year.
“[The course] is charming; people like it: It’s friendly, it’s clean,” Mooney said. “We’re old school and proud of it.”
Mooney said the steady stream of returning customers who have been passing through every summer for 50 years keeps the seasonal business bustling and strong.
Despite its location in the middle of S.K. Brown’s proposed development, the course is privately owned and has no plans of changing. Mooney said she was never approached by the developer ” who was then Michael Schneider, a Santa Clara businessman who was caught in a felony bankruptcy and fraud case in 2006 ” to negotiate a possible sale.
“I don’t know why [Schneider] never spoke to us,” Mooney said. “That’s kind of interesting when you think about it.”
Mooney said she’s in favor of S.K. Brown’s proposed development on the neighboring property. It will benefit them both, she said.
The mini-golf course keeps Mooney busy during the summers but it’s a fun business, she said. She has become somewhat of a professional mini-golfer herself.
“I’m not as good as my employees, who seem to have more time on their hands,” she said.
But, she didn’t just buy the business for fun. Her husband, who is a certified public accountant, made sure of that.
“If you were married to a CPA, would you be doing something like this for fun?” she said.