Tucked onto a hill at the Aumar Village Center in Fallston, the land Mountain Run Mini Golf is built on was supposed to be used for a water feature for outdoor diners of the Earth, Wood and Fire restaurant next door.
But co-owners Tim Conder and Brian Hartlieb had a bigger idea: turning a pile of dirt into a mini-golf course.
The original plans and the natural topography of the land are why the 18-hole course has water features incorporated into nearly every hole, including a waterfall near hole three, four ponds and two rivers, plus a moving water wheel at the center. A few of the features are playable parts of the course.
“To have water be a feature, you need it to move. We were able to use the landscape as it existed, with some alterations, to be able to have rivers that flowed,” Conder said. “You can have fountains all day long, but the rivers are pretty cool.”
In addition to the water features, the entire course is lushly landscaped, with plants, pebbles and more than 100 tons of boulders, most of which outline the course, but with some incorporated as obstacles on the greens.
The course is designed for players of all ages, from young children to adults. Most of the holes are handicap accessible.
On a Saturday afternoon in April, families at Mountain Run enjoyed spending time outdoors on the greens and with each other.
“We love it,” said Fallston resident Chris Battaglia. He, along with his wife, Michelle, brings their daughters, Giuliana and Gia, to Mountain Run about once a month when it’s open. “It’s perfect, a great family atmosphere.”
Thad Erich from Fallston brought his two daughters, Eloise and Ryan, for a daddy-daughter date.
“Great place. We really enjoyed ourselves; it was a neat little course,” Erich said, noting it was their first time playing at Mountain Run.
He planned to take his girls to the nearby Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard shop in the same shopping center, located at the corner of Routes 152 and Route1, once they finished their round of golf. The Rita’s is owned by Hartlieb and sponsors Mountain Run’s score cards, offering coupons for players to use after their game.
One of the favorite parts of the course for kids is hole 11, which Conder calls “the river shot.”
“If you hit the ball into the river, it carries your ball down through a log and kicks it out for a potential hole-in-one,” he explained.
“Once the kids find out about it, they won’t quit,” Conder said. “If the kids don’t have anyone behind them, they’ll get the ball and put it in the river a half-dozen or a dozen times until their parents ask them to come along to the next hole.”
Hole 13 features a jump shot over a river, one of the most challenging on the course.
“If you hit it too soft, it goes in the river and you have to fish it out of the pond. If you hit it too hard, it’ll bounce off the green and you’ll lose a shot,” Conder said.
Besides the water features, Conder said, the designers of the course tried to duplicate the roll and feel of sod and grass from a real golf course. That, he said, sets it apart from other putt-putt courses in the area, and helps make Mountain Run “challenging, but fun.”
A 19th hole, for the opportunity to win a free game, is almost completed. It features a ramp and a fire hydrant. Conder said he hopes to have it ready for prime time before summer hours arrive.
Currently, the course is open only from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and all dates and times are weather-dependent. Summer hours begin after Memorial Day, when Mountain Run will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
There is a large pavilion available for private parties, such as birthdays or other gatherings. Right now, those are limited to about 35 to 40 people because of COVID-19, but it has capacity for 75 during normal times, Conder said. When people come and choose to socialize together, the ownership assumes their pod or gathering is acceptable to them, he said.
There are no food sales on site, but Mountain Run will work with groups to provide catering for their get-together, or they can bring their own.
COVID-19 protocols remain in place, and attendees are expected to wear masks during their time on the course, even though it’s outside. Hand sanitizer is provided upon arrival, and masks are available for sale at the counter if you forget to bring one. Mountain Run also offers online tee time reservations and contactless payment.
Because of the nature of one group playing a hole at one time, social distancing is naturally encouraged, Conder said.
Cost is $10 per player 13 or older; $8 for children ages 5-12 and free to those under 5. Seniors 65 and older, military personnel and first responders play for $7. There is a maximum of five players to a group.
Mountain Run Mini Golf
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202 Mountain Road, Fallston, 443-299-6092, mtnrunminigolf.com