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Course closeup: Kendahl Miniature Golf


June 5, 2020

Back in 1966, in what would become classic cars, people flocked to Sunnyside in Cloquet to grab a 49-cent hamburger at the fairly new Gordy's Hi-Hat or a burger along with a frosty mug of Root Beer at the A&W. To extend the excitement, the brand new Kendahl Miniature Golf course opened up adjacent to A&W on Highway 33 North. Since then, A&W morphed into the Family Tradition Restaurant, but these three businesses have remained under family ownership. That's quite amazing in today's business world.

"We're in our 55th year of providing an enjoyable outdoor experience for young and old alike," said Kendahl owner Bill Erickson.

A third generation of Ericksons helps operate the course, which opened May 29. They are open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, weather permitting, at 812 Sunnyside Drive, Highway 33, Cloquet.

"I've had quite a few couples tell me that their first official date was at our miniature golf course," Erickson said. "That's pretty special."

There are a few restrictions and expectations for players due to the coronavirus pandemic virus, but not too much that changes the golfing experience. Social distancing is strongly recommended but isn't a difficulty on the course layout. Clubs and balls are sterilized after each round. The price for 18 holes is $6 for adults and $5 for those age 12 and under.

Bill's dad, Ken Erickson, and his business partner, Cliff Dahl, started the business, combining their names to form Kendahl. Dahl provided capital and Ken the property and the manpower to complete the course. Ken poured the concrete with friends and hired Lauri Myllymaa and Eino Jokela, master carpenters, to build some of the unique "landmarks" on the course.

With these skilled technicians, many "classic" miniature golf course holes were developed, including a windmill where players have to time their putts to avoid hitting the rotating fan blades. Another is the water wheel where expertise is required to get a ball into the open slots on the wheel to bring it to the next green level. There is a lighthouse, a large castle, a steamboat, raised holes and bridges along with hidden holes to traverse. There are 18 holes.

Part of what sets Kendahl apart from other mini-golf courses is its longevity. Being in one place for 55 years means there is plenty of shade provided by mature trees. There is also a wealth of other beautiful flora meticulously maintained by the Erickson family and spots for players to sit and rest and get in touch with nature.

"I get a kick out of it that some Duluth residents call it their Cloquet summer bucket list ... coming to Gordy's for a burger and playing a round of mini golf at Kendahl," Erickson said.

Group reservations are accepted. Just call 218-879-3314. No equipment is required. Kendahl's provides the colorful golf balls and putters, although some serious players have been known to bring their own putter when shooting for the established course record.

How's your putting game? Come to Kendahl to fine-tune your putting stroke.


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