Much like the looming hills and towering pines, Twain Harte Miniature Golf has been around long enough to become one of the town's permanent landmarks and defining characteristics.

Open since the Eisenhower Administration and still operating on the same 18-hole course as installed by original owners Al and Charlotte Boberg, not too much has changed at the little attraction, which is celebrating its 50 anniversary this season.

Sure, prices have increased a bit since the course opened back in the spring of 1953 going from 35 cents per round to today's price of $3 during the day and $3.25 at night and the Bobergs gave way to current owners Richard and Marilyn Knudson in 1983.

But while other forms of entertainment from a half-century ago have long since grown stale and antiquated, miniature golf is a common link between generations of children in the Mother Lode.

Playstation and pogo sticks may bring blank stares, depending on the age of the person you're talking to, but right now, another generation of kids who live in or visit Twain Harte can still risk a clown's raspberry while trying to win a free game by sinking a hole-in-one on the 19th hole just like their parents and grandparents did in the '50s.

"I think coming back here is a sentimental journey for a lot of people," Marilyn said.

"Sometimes, I feel like Lucy in the Peanuts cartoon when she sets up a psychiatrist's booth with the five-cent sign it's fun to share the stories of people's lives."

Since retiring as Bay Area school teachers and taking over the course 20 years ago, the Knudsons have continued the Bobergs' tradition of staying open from Memorial Day to Labor Day which means 14-hour days, seven days per week.

And although the Knudsons have tended to the general wear-and-tear that 50 years of visitors brings, the essence of the course has not changed much at all over that time.

The Union Democrat
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