SOUTHINGTON – A Jude Lane driving range plans to renovate a derelict miniature golf course and batting cages.
Chris Cote, owner of Chris Cote’s Golf Shop and Toptracer Range, hopes to reopen the course and cages in the spring. Three years ago, Cote bought the former Golf Quest location off Interstate 84 at 125 Jude Lane.
“We’re going to reopen it next spring. We’re going to spend the next coming months bringing it back, resurfacing it, re-landscaping it, trees, mulch,” Cote said Monday. “We’re going to bring it all back to life.”
Shortly after buying the driving range portion of the Golf Quest business, Cote said he also bought the portion of the property that had miniature golf, batting cages and bumper boats. He wanted to preserve the parking for his driving range and also add amenities to the business. Unused, the mini golf course had gotten overgrown until recently.
Cote said there’s been strong demand for outdoor activities as there was during the pandemic.
“We’ve been one of the luckier businesses after the pandemic,” he said. “Very steady, the retail has been good too.”
With the renovation of the batting cages and mini golf, Cote hopes to add food trucks and is planning to build a pavilion with picnic tables for patrons.
“It brings the whole property together. That’s how they originally had it,” he said.
The pool for the bumper boats has been filled in and will be the location of the pavilion.
In 2019, Cote brought in the Toptracer system, an expanded pro shop and club -fitting space, and renovated the grounds and driving range. He’d been running the former Golf Quest retail shop for years before buying the property. He’s got a golf shop in Portland, his hometown.
Toptracer is a computerized system of cameras that tracks golf shots. It’s used to play virtual golf courses, compete with other players for longest shot and track performance over time.
Cote had 66 bays outfitted with the Toptracer system, which includes cameras that track a ball’s direction and speed. A screen near the bay allows a golfer to choose different modes of play as well as watch the ball’s trajectory and landing distance from the pin.
Family fun in town
Paul Rossi, owner of Hidden Valley Miniature Golf on West Street, revamped his putting course in 2020 and removed batting cages. Cote has talked with Rossi about his plans and the two are in agreement that there’s room for more than one miniature golf course in town.
“There’s definitely a demand for family entertainment,” Rossi said. “With mini golf, everybody can do it.”
“We want to bring people to our neighborhood here… If you’ve got a couple choices, it’s all the better,” Rossi said. “There’s a lot of people who are into mini golf. They’ll come play my place, they’ll play his place the same day.”
Rossi was reluctant to remove his batting cages but said he couldn’t afford to keep them open for the dwindling number of customers who wanted it. However, there’s still demand that he’s glad Cote can meet.
“I get people every single day, ‘Hey, where’s the cages?’” Rossi said. “They’ve been gone for three years.”
Whatever amenities are offered, Rossi told Cote that they have to be top-notch.
“That’s the hard thing. For us here, we spend so much money on landscaping and flowers and upkeep. But if you don’t do it, you’re dead,” Rossi said. “You have to be constantly making people come and be impressed by what you have.”