“You have to see it.”
That’s the best way to describe the new Silver Queen Mine Miniature Golf Course that opened at the Monticello Merc last week.
The traditional log cabin facade within the store belies nothing of the mine within.
Once inside, the new mini golf course is anything but traditional. It’s a vibrant and visual experience, one orchestrated by Kevin and Liesel Francom, owners of the Monticello Mercantile. I tried many times to get a good picture, but they don’t do it justice. You just have to see it.
Stepping under a black light brings golfers into a magical, fluorescent universe – one full of mining carts, tracks, tunnels, shoots, rocks, a gear station, and even a mining office surrounded by glowing hills and log cabin walls.
The murals, in particular, are so good you feel like you could walk right in and explore your very own mine shaft for bits of silver and gold.
The care Liesel Francom took in sketching and painting each of the mine shaft murals is evident. The beautiful gradient of vibrant colors, carefully planned perspective, and level of detail add a dynamic dimension to the course that’s a visual treat. Really, you have to see it.
To complete the murals, Liesel replaced the light bulb in her laundry room with a black light and painted through the winter nights. She worked until the early hours of the morning for months on end.
Each mural took between 15 and 40 hours to complete, and Liesel estimates she spent nearly 300 hours on the nine murals throughout the course.
“The first one I did has a tender place in my heart because it was such a huge accomplishment of trial and error and then success,” Liesel said. “After the first one was done, I knew I could do the rest. It is the painting by the mine office.”
Liesel said, “I couldn’t have done it all if it weren’t for the help of Kevin and all of Kevin’s employees. Whether they were helping to build, paint, clean, or watch the register so others could be working on the course, they all had a big hand in what eventually came about. I am very pleased with our results, and we all hope the community will enjoy it!”
Employees who worked on the project said they feel an immense amount of pride and satisfaction. Over 600 employee hours are invested on the construction of the project.
Brian Barrell and Terry Noffsinger did the majority of the construction, including design. Shelbie Musselman and Elli Thayn were dedicated to painting; Bryson Henderson did the majority of the heavy lifting; and Joe Daily, Chris Honecker, Tamra George, Dillan Wheeler, and Evan Rowley not only helped in the course but took charge of the store so work could be completed.
“My wife and employees are what made this happen,” said Kevin. “The creativity and skill is far beyond what anyone would expect.”
Kevin says the mini golf course is also a testament to his father, Robert Francom, who brought the idea to Monticello after seeing a need for a family activity.
Kevin said, “He put a miniature golf course in a hardware store, of all places, and had a vision to make the original course black light all the time. He did that, not to make a profit, but because it was something that was needed in Monticello.
“I realized I should do the same. Our goal going in was to bring something into Monticello that could benefit all and that hopefully people would enjoy, much like when my dad brought mini golf in for the first time.”
Social Media posts leading up to the unveiling of the mini golf course led residents to wonder what was going on. A cryptic post enticed families to go, saying, “The Time Has Come, the curtain is down. Bring your family and plan to stay a while.”
If you do bring your kids, be prepared for the repercussions. My petulant three-year-old now insists, “I go to Mwerk!”
We’ve already been twice and plan to go a lot more.
The Silver Queen Mine Mini Golf Course is open as long as the store is open, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Rates are $3.50 for ages 12 and over and $2.50 for children ages 4-11. Children under 3 are free with an adult purchase. Punch passes are available at a discounted rate.