AUBURN — Dan Hargreaves, owner of Tabers Lakeside Stand in Auburn, wanted to have fun with some friends. A young entrepreneur with strong local ties, Hargreaves has owned and operated Tabers since 2008.

People around town know him, and many people with whom he went to Edward Little High School remain in the Lewiston-Auburn area.

And if the invite and his own good charm weren’t enough to convince a couple dozen friends to gather … he owns his own freaking miniature golf course!

One night about a year ago, after the venue had officially closed for the evening, the group assembled, laid down a few ground rules, and started putting golf balls. Several rounds (and hours) later, the gears in Hargreaves’ head started turning.

“Everyone had such a good time, we played again, and then we had a doubles tournament,” Hargreaves said. “We just had a blast.”

A year later, and with a sparkling new course from Harris Mini Golf Courses Inc. in place at Tabers, Hargreaves has decided to turn his private, invitation-only idea for a gathering of friends into a community event: an open, 36-hole miniature golf tournament.

“There was no better reason than we just put in the new course,” Hargreaves said. 

The course itself, a par-41, 18-hole layout overlooking Lake Auburn, received a complete overhaul this spring. The new design includes an element or two from the previous course, but is vastly different otherwise. Features include a waterfall, several ponds and a stream, and a new layout with new surfaces, brick work and hazards.

When Hargreaves first announced the idea on social media, among the first to respond to the announcement was an account known as “The Putting Penguin,” which bills itself as “the world’s largest miniature golf course review website” and is based out of Connecticut. Also responding was Richard Gottfried, a blogger who plays in tournaments around the world and is ranked in the World Mini Golf Federation international rankings (yes, that’s a thing).

Gottfried, who is blogging about his experiences in England (hamandeggerfiles.blogspot.com), is unable to make the tournament, but he said he’d spread the word to others who were in the northeastern United States, and a few of his contacts may be interested, Hargreaves said.

Also among those possibly participating are local mainstays on the traditional golf circuit, including 2014 Maine Amateur champion Andrew Slattery, Brian Bilodeau and Curtis Jordan, some of whom were among the first “test group” a year ago.

“I’m hoping we can get 40 at least,” Hargreaves said, “but I’m going to have to cap it at about 70.”

Hargreaves was quick to point out that, no matter who enters, mini golf — and the course — are great equalizers.

“You never know about the bounces, the bricks aren’t flat,” he said. “There’s a lot of luck involved, too.”

Hargreaves said the lowest score he’s seen so far on the new layout is a 2-under 39, and “anything in the low 40s should be right there.”

The tourney is slated for Sunday, Aug. 2 at 1 p.m. at Taber’s.

From fun with friends to cohesive community event, the first Lake Auburn Open has already drawn interest from the greater mini golf community. Hargreaves is now hoping it becomes a mainstay on the area’s summer calendar.


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