Jasper sits atop the 18th hole at Ghost Golf, watching over the final putts. He’s ready to congratulate those who might hit a hole-in-one.
As animatronic skeletons go, he’s realistic enough, but Jasper won’t be giving you nightmares.
Ghost Golf is more about the silly scares than hardcore gore, says Daryn Coleman, who opened the indoor miniature golf course on Blackstone Avenue on Monday.
Coleman built the entire graveyard that makes up the course with wife Janice. He made all the animatronic ghosts and ghouls, and did the voice recordings.
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So, Japser, the graveyard’s skeletal care taker? That’s actually Coleman.
There’s a mausoleum and plenty of grave stones and menacing trees. Hidden crickets chirp and a cat meows to the night.
Coleman’s favorite part of the course is a coffin-filled room near hole 17. It’s the flickering candles that do it for him.
“It took me a long time to get the candles like that,” he says.
Coleman has a history with the ghastly. As a kid, he built haunted houses in the backyard. He opened his first real haunted house at a mall when he was 15. When he was older, he started doing animatronics and worked for Disney for a bit before going out on his own, creating effects for places like the Moss Beach Distillery.
The place might actually be haunted, but the moving chandeliers and ringing pay phone (pick it up to hear a ghostly voice) are Coleman’s work.
Ghost Golf started as a Halloween display in Coleman’s front yard.
“I got tired of having one day of glory,” he says.
So he started looking for ways to parlay his love of haunted houses into something that could last year-round. The concept of a themed miniature golf course isn’t unique. Coleman was partly inspired by the Monster Mini Golf franchise.
But Ghost Golf doesn’t do black lights or boos, he says. The course is more about the atmosphere.
“I want you to feel like you’re walking in a graveyard,” Coleman says.
The Colemans actually ran Ghost Golf in Concord for 10 years, first as a nine-hole course and then with a full 18 holes, before deciding to move; they say the landlord raised the rent in January. They went looking for a new home for the business, starting close to Concord and expanding outward until they came upon Fresno – with plenty of big buildings and cheap rent.
“You could find really good buildings, really good locations for a really good price,” Coleman says.
He was able to expand the course and still has space for a mummy-themed shooting gallery, several party rooms and an air hockey table.
And there are plans to expand into the escape room business next year.
Coleman has an idea for a pair of zombie-themed rooms. And the course itself isn’t set in stone, either. After all, Coleman is a maker and is always tinkering with new additions. Right now he’s working on an animatronic raven and there will likely be special surprises during the holidays, he says.
“I’m always adding stuff and changing things out.”
- 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
- 5179 N. Blackstone Ave.
- $13, $10 children 4-9 years old
- 559-800-0811, ghost.golf
Six other noteworthy events happening this week:
- Tech N9ne 8 p.m. Friday. Tioga Sequoia Brewing Co., 745 Fulton St. $35, 559-486-2337, www.ticketweb.com
- A Purple Halloween 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Fulton 55, 875 Divisadero St. $15-$20, 559-412-7400, www.fulton55.com
- Haunted Mansion Halloween Party 8 p.m. Saturday. The Standard, 9455 N. Fort Washington Rd. $25. 559-434-3638, www.eventbrite.com
- Clovisfest 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Pollasky Avenue, Old Town Clovis. Free. 559-299-7363, clovischamber.com
- Pups and Suds 5 p.m. Sunday. Gazebo Gardens, 3204 N. Van Ness Ave. $10 donation. 559-600-7387, www.fresnohumane.org
- Granite Park Car Show and Trunk or Treat 5 p.m. Oct. 31. 3950 N. Cedar Ave. Free. 559-222-7529, graniteparkfresno.com