Risky business venture a hole-in-onePublished 4:01pm Sunday, August 22, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Eight years ago, Bob Kish decided to take a risk.
After spending most of his life working in the tool and die industry, Kish felt the itch to do something different.
He bought a piece of land near his home on Nickerson Avenue in Benton Harbor and decided he was going to build a miniature golf course.
Even though the land was filled with trees at the time and isn’t located next door to many other businesses, Kish saw a lot of potential.
“A lot of people thought I was kind of crazy,” he said. “They didn’t think I would make it. A lot of people doubted.”
People remembered Action Territory, a similar family fun center in Benton Harbor, that lasted only a few years in the area before folding.
Now eight years and gallons of sweat and elbow grease later, Kish has a successful business in Hidden Pointe Fun Park, complete with an 18-hole mini golf course, a quarter-mile go-kart track, arcade room and batting cages.
“It was a real journey,” he said.
Kish cleared all the trees from the area, completed much of the landscaping for the miniature golf and constructed the go-kart track himself.
“I was out there every day pouring concrete. It was just a huge project,” he said about building the track. “It took me eight months to build.”
But it was worth the toil for Kish, who says his go-kart track is one of the longest in the state.
“I haven’t seen one in Michigan like it,” said Kish, who has had other go-kart track owners come to Hidden Pointe and marvel at his track.
The cars, which can run 20 miles per hour, are top-of-the-line.
“They are the Cadillac of go-karts,” Kish said.
At Hidden Pointe, “mini golf is still king,” he said.
The 18-hole course, complete with an elevated lighthouse and running waterfalls, was the first attraction installed at Hidden Pointe.
Now visitors can also enjoy softball and baseball batting cages with speeds from softball slow pitch to 85 miles per hour. Hidden Pointe recently installed Jumpshot, an enclosed trampoline with basketball hoops that makes games of one-on-one a little more interesting.
Kish says some people even stop in just for the Island Oasis smoothies or Sherman’s ice cream.
With the many different offerings, Hidden Pointe is one of the few family fun centers in the area.
“It’s a real tough thing to do, being a seasonal business,” Kish said. “We really have one month, July, to make hay. This is the toughest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s rewarding in entertaining thousands of kids every summer.”
And despite the struggling economy and the limited number of months the business is open, Hidden Pointe is expanding. Kish recently purchased the old Playland Hall building next door to possibly use as an event center. It has a capacity of 600 people, so Kish envisions renting it out for family reunions and wedding receptions.
“It really secures the future of Hidden Pointe,” Kish said.
A future that Kish saw eight years ago, even when very few others could.