Projected to be completed before July 4, the new 18-hole miniature golf course at Niagara Cave will provide an additional entertainment option at the already popular destination.
Projected to be completed before July 4, the new 18-hole miniature golf course at Niagara Cave will provide an additional entertainment option at the already popular destination.
Soon, there will be more holes in the ground around popular local tourist destination Niagara Cave. However, these won't be the naturally forming sinkholes which led to the discovery of the rural Harmony cavern in 1924; these holes will be man-made and only large enough to fit a golf ball.

A new 18-hole miniature golf course is currently being constructed on the eastern part of the cave's property. The decision to add this feature was one cave owner Mark Bishop said he had been thinking about since taking over ownership of the cave in 1995.

"Lately we got more serious about it," he shared, adding, "We realized it could be something local people could do if they have already seen the cave."

Once completed, Bishop said there won't be another mini-golf course in the area that will be this large.

Initially, the plan was to just go with a nine-hole course. "We wanted to do more, but we thought we would have possible future expansion," Bishop shared. He got in contact with the Mini Golf Construction Company from Neenah, Wis. and had them survey the grounds where the course would be built. The construction company told Bishop if he was thinking about expanding in the future to 18 holes that it would be more cost-effective to build it all at one time.

Trusting the judgment of the Mini Golf Construction Company, which builds courses all over the U.S.A., Bishop decided to go ahead with the 18-hole course. "They know what people like in a mini-golf course," he stated.

After the initial survey was completed in April, the project was delayed several weeks by the May snowstorm and heavy rains. The course is expected to be completed by mid-June.

Improving the destination and providing other entertainment options has been on the mind of Bishop since he bought the cave. He said they had at one time considered constructing a campground on the property, but quickly realized there was not enough space on the 10-acre site.

"We have talked with other cave owners who had mini-golf and got mixed responses," shared Bishop.

In the end, they decided it would be the most practical addition. Bishop feels it is likely to attract business to the cave and also have an impact on the local economy in Harmony.

"We hope the more things we put out there, the more reason people will have to stay in the area," he explained.

Cave tour guide Sam Hanson said he thought it would be beneficial to local shops. It would also mean he probably wouldn't have to stay down in the cave all day; Bishop will be having his tour guides running a club rental stand outside by the course. The stand, which is being built by J&M Construction, will also double as a concession stand.

The first nine holes will meet the American Disability Act requirements of being wheelchair accessible. The "back" nine will not.

To keep the theme looking as natural as possible, the course will feature limestone rock formations. The limestone will come from Bruening Rock Products at the Big Springs Quarry and cement work is being contracted out to TLC Construction and Stateline Insulated Concrete. Minimal environment changes were necessary during the construction.

One rotted tree was removed, along with branches of other trees which were viewed as a threat to fall in the future. Bishop said there will be no impact on the cave from construction.

In addition to the mini-golf course, parking will be expanded by around 30 units. Bishop said he realized people who tour the cave and also golf will be staying for a while, and the current parking areas already overflow during busy summer weekends.

The new course comes right before the 80th anniversary of the opening of the cave. Bishop said changes in billboard, television and online advertising will come from the addition of the course.

He plans on having the building resided and a new gemstone panning sluice installed. Updates can be found on Niagara Cave's Facebook page as well as their website niagaracave.com.

Bishop is planning on setting rental rates at $7 for 18 holes with a possible nine-hole option. Special offers will occur during the initial opening of the course.

No matter the plans for the future, Niagara Cave will literally still be one of the "cool"est places to visit during the summer