CANTON – It’s been over a decade since there was an outdoor golf course in Canton. The Canton Golf Course, now home to the many stores and restaurants at the Farmington Valley Shoppes, closed in 2003 after over 70 years of play.
But a town native has brought golf back to Canton. Autumn Sutherland opened Matterhorn Mini Golf earlier this week on Dyer Cemetery Road at the site of the old Cob Web flea market. Matterhorn is 18 holes of mini golf with a Swiss theme.
Sutherland grew up in Canton and her friends and neighbors have been helping her build the course on the 2-acre property. She has literally been working at the site for the past year to build the course.
The course is filled with dozens of unique and interesting facts based on Switzerland. There is a hole where you play the ball into a goat shed while avoiding some goat droppings, a hole where you can ring a church bill and a hole dedicated to the Hadron Collider in Geneva, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.
There is a hole where you can hit your ball into the water and see it deposited, by design, close to the hole. There are a few dozen ears of corn growing near one hole and there is a large replica of the Matterhorn on the course. Patrons can cool off on those hot summer days with a mister frequently found at large amusement parks.
There are 10 life-size goats scattered throughout the course. Student artists at Canton High, Avon High, Simsbury High, Canton Middle School and River City Art Center in Collinsville painted goats along with five local artists including Brad Gilchrist, Kate McAllister, Kevin Styles, Akino Fukawa, and Chris O’Herron.
McAllister’s goat is a tribute to the late Payne Stewart, who had a flair for his golf knickers and playing in bright and loud clothing.
The original Cob Web building still stands and has been incorporated into the business. The building had been vacant for nearly a decade before Sutherland began working on the property a year ago. It had no plumbing or running water. There had been some fire damage.
Now, it has bathrooms, new windows and ice cream available for everyone to share after 18 holes of golf. There is a patio outside the building for patrons to relax on after their games.
Sutherland tried to save the iconic Cob Web letters on the roof but they were too fragile and damaged by the weather. But she learned to use a jig saw and cut large red letters to spell out Matterhorn. They were posted on the roof in the tradition of the Cob Web.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I grew up here and know the area really well. Location wise, this is very nice.
“We want to make something that is a destination and an experience,” Sutherland said. “We wanted it to be more than ice cream. We want people to talk about the mini golf. It’s a pretty serious course. We have some significant par 3s.”
The course is challenging enough to be a member course in the U.S. Mini Golf Pro Association.
Still, Sutherland has the family in mind. Groups as large as five can play together. Other area mini golf courses limit groups to three and that can break up a family of four. “I saw one place turn to the kids and said who do you want to play with? Your mother or father,” she said shaking her head. “They asked the kids.”
Employees will be dressed in traditional Swiss décor. The course has lights and will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“I’m happy to be back in Canton,” she said. You learn more about the Matterhorn at the course’s Facebook page.
This is a second story in an occasional series on area businesses with a tie to the sporting world that serve our community.