Recently Lake County’s Certified Tourism Ambassadors™ (CTA) got to descend on Lake County’s only 18-hole miniature golf course and all reported having a great time. Tatonkaland, an historic miniature golf course in Clearlake, offers a great deal of value by providing 18 holes of golf for just $5 in a fun setting.
Going back to 1953 this vintage treasure has been part of the Clearlake community for some time. After being a cornerstone in the town, it eventually closed and lay fallow for some 20 years. Fortunately the present owners, Bunnie Carter and Robert Coker, remembered the glory days of the course and brought it back thus re-creating a fun 18-hole miniature golf course where you can go through the whole thing for just $5. Yep, five bucks for 18 holes.
This was a great outing and the CTAs were heard laughing and having a terrific time. And who wouldn’t? Some of the holes feature three levels of challenge and others feature very buxom pirate wenches. There is the windmill, of course, whose blades add an additional level of difficulty to the hole and even an outhouse where a skillful golfer can get a shot just right and get a hole in one. Yep, that’s where the golf ball goes and the player would be flushed with excitement by getting it in there.
Bringing Tatonkaland back was no easy task. Bunnie and Robert had the property but some of the historic figures were missing. Fortunately locals knew the whereabouts of the pieces and a few helped to get them back on the property. Of note was a gigantic polar bear that had been on the course and suddenly disappeared. Fortunately he was located and now keeps an eye on one of the holes with a name tag that reads, “Craig” in honor of Craig Scovel who was the keeper of the bear.
The bears, pirate wenches, military figures and even a cow with boots, a plaid shirt and big, painted lips are all from the original days of the course and are part of that feeling that you’ve been suddenly transported back to 1953 again.
While at Tatonkaland one can enjoy snow cones and hot dogs and there is a shop on the property with clothing and much, much more. At the end of the course there’s a bell to ring if you’ve had a good time - that bell certainly got a workout on this outing.
After our round of golf we decided our next stop would be a restaurant called Delicious Alvarez which is a very authentic Mexican restaurant just down the road from Tatonkaland. For anyone who’s been to Mexico there is a certain feel and aura in the restaurants there that this one has duplicated well, and that’s a good thing. The place is very clean but the colors of the walls, the novelas on TV and the music are just like being in Mexico.
The food, too, has an authentic flavor that’ll also take you south of the border. The place’s Yelp reviews seem to also reflect this. This was a good stop at a family-owned restaurant that offers an authentic feel and taste and really great prices.
Lake County’s Certified Tourism Ambassador program was mentioned at the beginning of this article and that bears explaining. Lake County has invested in a training program that seeks to educate locals on things to do in Lake County as well as giving Ambassadors extensive information on our unique history and geology. There is also a strong component of customer service training in the program so these individuals have taken time to invest in your vacation, and the County’s investment was significant as well.
As you’re enjoying your Lake County getaway look for the people who are wearing the CTA pin. And if you don’t see anyone at the places you’re visiting, you might ask why those owners haven’t chosen to participate in the program. It’s a solid investment in the quality of your getaway and is another way that Lake County is truly a unique getaway.
And Tatonkaland is definitely one of the fun discoveries around Lake County that’s a great value in a really fun time.
Article and photos by Anthony Barthel
A blog about happenings in Lake County.