Miniature golf, big-time fun in Upland

Boomers is the name of the former Upland Family Fun Center, a fixture along 7th Street in Upland since 1972. The miniature golf course abuts the 10 Freeway, and the property also has go-karts, batting cages and a kiddie restaurant, the Boomers Cafe.

(The restaurant was Bullwinkle’s until Boomers took over in 2002.)

In the 12 years I’ve been at the Bulletin, most of them spent commuting between Claremont and our Ontario office, I’ve driven past the golf course thousands of times. I’ve always secretly wanted to go there.

And so, a bunch of us from the newsroom went there on a recent Friday night, the day before my birthday, to celebrate by playing a round. I have very patient friends.

Turns out there are two 18-hole courses. We played the one with the school, the windmill, the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, among other obstacles and features. It was a lot of fun, despite being breezy, dark and chilly. (Why couldn’t my birthday be during a warmer month, or at least after springing forward?)

The other course has a Spanish Mission. Oooooh. I’ll have to go back and play it sometime.

When we were playing the schoolhouse hole, in which you try to hit the ball through the open front door, a friend reminded me that the schoolhouse used to be painted the traditional red with white trim and have a peaked roof. A few years back, it was painted a softer color and the roof lopped off, for unknown reasons. Further evidence that nothing is sacred.

The Boomers main building, where you get your clubs, is a sprawling place with air hockey, arcade games (some of them very old and charming) and even indoor “cosmic” miniature golf. Another reason to go back.

Anyone have personal experiences with Boomers, Bullwinkle’s or the Upland Family Fun Center? Please post away.

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  • John Clifford

    When you mentioned 2 golf courses and the cold wind I wondered why you didn’t play one of the indoor courses (my recollection is that there were two, but it’s been a while).

    I used to go there in the 1970s when I was a salesman for the Covina Sentinel newspaper, coming over the hill to sell ads to Pomona and Ontario car dealerships like Tate Cadillac and Crown Toyota. At that time they had a lot of pinball machines (an addiction of mine), remember this was before video games. I believe I may have played pong there once or twice, but that was way boring compared to the rush of the silver ball.

    I guess Upland has no appreciation for history. I’m sure that in Pomona changing the roofline of an old schoolhouse would have required a permit, COA, and hearing before the Historic Preservation Commission.

    [Thanks, John. I really wanted to play one of the outdoor courses that I've driven past so many times, just for the experience. -- DA]

  • Ms. Lois

    Hi David,

    Boomers (and Bullwinkles) has been very generous in donating to our Summer Reading Programs. But I can’t actualy say that I’ve played miniature golf there since I was in high school …

    [Ms. Lois is referring to programs at the Pomona Public Library. -- DA]

  • Carl Knecht

    I always thought that Scandia was the better place for miniature golf, myself. Yes, it’s colder because both courses are outside, but it seems to be better maintained than Boomers IMHO.

  • Lisa

    You asked … In addition to my husband and I having our first date in … gah … 1995 at Bullwinkles, that’s where I got my lucky number.

    I must have been about 6, and I was there for a birthday party. I was really dressed up in this super girly dress with white tights and I went on the bumper boats. I so desperately wanted to go on them but not get wet. Boat #17 served me well, I didnt get a single drop on me. 17 has been my lucky number ever since.

    Maybe the water level was low, I did spend a good amount of my childhood in a Southern California drought. :)

    [I offer you 17 thanks for the cute story. -- DA]

  • http://empoprise-ie.blogspot.com/ John Bredehoft

    Two stories — years and years ago, I went to the facility and splashed around in the bumper boats — and THEN got in my real car to drive home. It is a very unsettling experience to get into a real car and have to constantly remind yourself that you CAN’T bump the cars next to you.

    A second story — some time later, my daughter went there with some friends, and they got on the Ferris wheel. As you know from driving by the place, the Ferris wheel is rather small. However, it was a little too tall for one of my daughter’s friends, who was extremely scared of heights. Warning to acrophobics — even small Ferris wheels can get pretty high, if you’re sensitive to heights.

  • Brian Hurst

    WOW. Memories…

    There used to be two courses on the roof, until a girl fell over the side and was killed, circa 1979.

    As for Clifford, I agree, the silver ball. You can keep the video games of today, or even yesteryear, Pong, Aliens, Football, I’ve played pinball all my life. The Thunderbird Bowling alley, Mountain and Sixth St., had about 20 pins in the late ’70s, played them all. I have 7 pinball machines, and yes, they work, in my home, guess it beats collecting stamps.

    Dave, if you ever want to meet pinball heaven, just let me know, you can make it a blog feature.

    Loyal reader and O.P.D. friend, Brian

  • Mo

    I LOVED the courses on the roof. What was it called then? Was it Upland Family Fun or was there a name before that?

    I also used to love the trampoline park before they put the carnival type rides in. It was just the 5 or 6 golf courses, the trampolines and the batting cages. Then, there was the little race cars to the east where the RV dealer is now.

    I haven’t gone there since I was young. When my son was younger, it seems the place was not really family friendly. I can’t think of anything specific but in like the mid-’90s I remember the place had a horrible reputation so I never took him. I haven’t given it a thought since.

    Dave, I hope you had a WONDERFUL Birthday! Best wishes on the coming year!

  • Don J

    Huish Family Fun Center I recall they were Mormon and preferred their kind for the employees. It worked for Howard Hughes.

  • DAve

    I took my son to the batting cages and even though they charge like $40 an hour they still didn’t keep up a continuous flow of balls across the plate.

    And that is my story of annoyance about THAT place.

    Also I can’t hit worth a damn any more (WAH!).

  • Bob House

    I have fond memories of racing go-karts at Bullwinkle’s with my young son — who’s now in law school.

    I’m wondering if any readers remember what seemed to be the only miniature golf course around the IE in the ’50s and ’60s — in Pomona on the north side of Holt, just west of Indian Hill, across Holt from the Sears strip center. Or were there others I just didn’t know about?

    [Readers? -- DA]

  • Tad Decker

    Mo — At one time (prior to “Huish”) I believe the facility was called Pomona Valley Golf. This was before Bullwinkle’s and the batting cages were added.

    Bob House — As for other miniature golf courses, I remember there was one in Pomona on the north side of Foothill Blvd. (where the Burger King now stands).

  • Dennis Sampson

    Hi David,

    I don’t remember the miniature golf course on the north side of Holt in Pomona, but I do remember playing at a course on the south side of Holt in Ontario, just east of the ice skating rink, I believe it was. I recall it being abandoned in the late ’60s and sat forlornly for several years, possibly into the mid-’70s.

    Dennis

  • JMac

    Bob just toggled a memory cell or two. I don’t recall the Holt miniature golf, but there was another small course on the north side of Foothill, west of Towne. A Burger King now resides on the premises. My memory is lacking for a name though.

  • Warren

    I remember a miniature golf course on Holt in Pomona. The course, unlike others, continued to stay open. My brother and I used to go there in the summer when school was out. If I remember right, the last hole required you to hit the ball up an incline and there were four or five plastic cups that rotated. Put your golf ball in one of the cups and win a free game.

    The only problem was that the free game had to be played immediately.

    I also remember a course that was open about 1964 -65 on the corner of Foothill and Vineyard(?). The course was in the back of a small shop that went out of business and only lasted about 6-9 months before it became a bar serving beer.

    Shortly after Montclair Plaza opened there was a fun center there around Mountain or Central and I-10, don’t know if it is now the Upland Fun Center, but it had batting cages and two outdoor courses and I think two indoor courses. Don’t remember if it had a course on the roof. Never went there because it seemed a little too expensive for me.

  • Kristin McConnell

    I LOVED Bullwinkle’s and the Huisch Family Fun Center, but I don’t like the Boomers! version. I went to Huisch and Bullwinkles for the first time when I was 14. I had my first job, and we had our staff Christmas party there that year. I loved the recording studio and the two indoor courses. I adored the race cars, but there were no bumper boats by that time (at least, not that I can remember). The arcade, though small, was fun and the main building was kept clean and tidy. The pizza at Bullwinkle’s was great, and the arcade in that place rivaled the one in the main building.

    By contrast, my husband and I took our kids to Boomers! about two months ago. Maybe it was a bad day, but it was a miserable experience. The arcade was filthy, it appeared that at least one of the indoor golf courses was taken out, and a whole bunch of undesirable-looking people were hanging around. We weren’t comfortable.

    We went into the ’50s-themed diner, hoping that would be better. It wasn’t. Again, it was filthy — various things all over the floor, wasted food and drink containers strewn everywhere. In the dining room, people were encouraging their kids to throw their trash on the floor. One little boy thought it was hilarious to throw his shoe around. They didn’t even stop him when it hit our table — and almost our food. The food was, um, interesting. It took roughly 30 minutes for a sandwich and two cheese pizzas. Okay, WHO puts CHEDDAR CHEESE on a PIZZA?? Gross! We left there having crossed the place off our list of destinations.

    Sorry to write such a downer of a tale. I hope it doesn’t take away from your nice visit.

    Just don’t get the pizza. Seriously.

    KT

    [Thanks for the flip side, Kristin. -- DA]

  • John Dutrey

    This was my hangout in the 1980s. I was first introduced to Space Invaders, then Pac-Man and then Asteroids. Much memories. I even got kicked out once for looking for extra change in the video games.

  • marc c.

    good times.

    i remember being one of the degenerates hanging out there in the early ’80s — because of the arcade games. there were certainly better arcades around, however. (i’d love a piece on arcades of the i.e. — i think there is only one left.) as i recall, the place was somewhere that teens went to to have no supervision.

    and i do remember the recording studio there! maybe it’s still there? in my day (if i’m not mistaken) people could make a music video of themselves in the booth, which was basically a blue screen you stood in front of while singing or lip-synching a song. you could then choose which cheesy effect or video of dirt bikes or whatever you wanted for the background. (or maybe i’m just recalling ciccone youth’s video for “addicted to love”?) i never tried it.

    [A recording studio! -- DA]

  • boomer

    did anyone mention that in the mid ’70s it was open 24 hours? nothing like a round of golf at 3 am.

    four of us would have marathon tournaments playing all the courses in one evening. then we would top the night off by playing an air hockey tourney until our knuckles bled and blisters formed.

    across the freeway the old thunderbird bowling alley was also open 24 hours. many an evening i’d get off second shift at general dynamics in rc and bowl 3 games with buds before heading home.

    by the way, the original miniature golf facility in the valley was on the north side of foothill, halfway between town and garey. the upland facility ran them out of business. it had a single 18 hole layout.

    [This was an e-mail to me that I cut and pasted onto the blog because it was too good not to share. -- DA]

  • Michael Guerin

    I am old enough to remember taking my first date in high school to the miniature golf course that was on Foothill at Sumner just inside Pomona, before the facility in Upland was built. Before that, there was the little course in Bear Gulch at the site now occupied by a bar.

    Michael Guerin
    Upland

    [Ditto with this one. -- DA]

  • http://www.horwathgolf.com miniature golf center

    Very insightful blog on Miniature Golf. Seems to be a fun center.

  • waffle

    One thing that hasn’t changed for a long time is those spinning barrels similar to teacups… on one of them there are barf stains on the inside.

    [Only one? -- DA]