If Bienville Square is the heart of Mobile, then Dauphin Street is certainly the main entertainment artery. However, another road bordering the downtown park is starting to stake a claim for being a vibrant neighborhood.
With construction of the Hilton Garden Inn underway, The Merry Widow music hall bringing in top acts and renovation of a former restaurant location, Conception Street has seen a revival in the past year.
Tucked in the middle of all these activities is one of downtown’s newest attractions, Port City Mini Golf, which opened in August at 10 S. Conception St.
“We had seen indoor mini golf courses in Gatlinburg [Tennessee] and Orlando [Florida],” co-owner Theresa Chamblee said. “There is an outdoor mini golf course in West Mobile, but the weather in Mobile can be so unpredictable. It just made more sense for us to offer something like this indoors.”
Chamblee and her husband, Nick, first sought a location along Dauphin Street, but she said the rent was out of their reach. Then the owner of Antiques and Estates at 12 S. Conception St. showed them a building next door.
“It was 1,900 square feet, which did limit the size of the course,” Chamblee said. “But it has a beautiful interior, and we are in a really exciting area.”
The young couple, who attended McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, have managed to squeeze in a nine-hole course. What makes the holes unique is that almost half are based on Mobile icons.
“We wanted a local theme to go with downtown,” Chamblee said. “It makes it great for locals and for tourists.”
Holes currently feature the Bankhead Tunnel, the RSA Battle House Tower and RSA BankTrust Building, the USS Alabama and the General W.K. Wilson Jr. Bridge (better known as the Dolly Parton Bridge).
“People have been giving us great ideas for other holes,” Chamblee said. “Since we are right on the parade route, we hope to do several with a Mardi Gras theme.”
Chamblee said business started off strong in August, averaging about 150 people on weekends. After a slight slowdown during football season, she said, attendance has started to climb.
In addition to the nine holes of mini golf, there are arcade machines and two skee ball devices. Skee ball has been a big hit, with tournaments already held.
Chamblee said the venue has a varied clientele. She said it’s usually families during the day and a young adult crowd at night. Although alcohol is not served, players 21 and over are allowed to bring their own beer or wine to drink while they play.
“Mini golf is great for any age,” Chamblee said. “Anyone who can pick up a putter can play.”
The business is a family affair. Chamblee’s brother, Matt Arensberg, built most of the mini golf holes and his wife, Carey, also plays a key role.
The cost for mini golf is $7, or $5 per person for groups of four or more. It costs just $1 per person for each additional round. At this time, the venue is open Wednesday and Thursday 4-11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Starting in the spring, the plan is to open seven days a week.
For more information, visit www.PortCityMiniGolf.com or call 251-459-8660.
● Accolades for the University of South Alabama’s soccer team continue. Thanks to their 18-3-2 record and a second-straight Sun Belt Conference regular-season title, the Lady Jaguars are ranked No. 25 in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll. USA, which advanced to the second round of the NCAA playoffs for the initial time, has never before been in the final season poll.
● Daouda Soumaoro of the University of Mobile was recently named the men’s basketball player of the week by the Southern States Athletic Conference. The 6-foot, 9-inch senior from Mali, Bamako, in Africa scored a team-high 19 points and eight rebounds in a win over Southern University-New Orleans. He is averaging 7.7 points and 6.8 rebounds in helping the Rams receive votes in the latest NAIA rankings.
● UM’s Bailey Nations earned NAIA All-American honorable mention honors in volleyball. The senior, who plays outside hitter, helped the Lady Rams to a 32-6 record and a runner-up finish in the SSAC tournament. Three times she was a first-team, all-conference performer and led UM with 428 kills.
● Nations and teammate Taylor Harper were also selected to the CoSIDA Academic All-America College Division volleyball teams. Harper, a senior who plays setter, was on the first-team while Nations was picked for the second team. A biology major and chemistry minor, Harper has a 4.0 grade point average. A first-team All-SSAC pick, she led UM with 1,040 assists. Nations has a 3.82 GPA in accounting.
● Three members of the men’s soccer team at UM were named honorable mention NAIA All-Americans. The group includes senior defender Pierre Mangold (first-team all-SSAC), sophomore forward Newton Henry (first-team all-conference after leading the club with 13 goals and 31 points) and freshman Jordan Sinclair (SSAC Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year). The Rams finished 11-6-2 on the year.
● Four members of UM’s women’s soccer team earned NAIA All-America honors. On the squad were senior forward Katie Compton (twice all-SSAC), junior defender Leah Corse (twice all-SSAC), junior forward Tyler-Rae Molley (twice all-SSAC) and sophomore midfielder Cayla Hebert (all-SSAC). Corse was on the second team and Hebert on the third team, while Compton and Molloy were honorable-mention selections. The Lady Rams finished the year 19-3 and earned their sixth straight bid to the NAIA national tournament.