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Go Putt-n-Bump brightens up the area

Perched between Highway 59 south and St. Clair Lake, Go Putt-n-Bump Amusement Park has been offering up everything from go-karts to bumper boats, batting cages to mini-golf for more than 20 years.

Owned by the father-son duo of Curt and Tim Shaw, Go Putt-n-Bump has been quietly on the grow for over two decades, and is still continuing to expand itself with new additions such as buildings, and bleachers for their go-kart spectators.

"I like interesting things and try to add something new each year to the park," commented Curt.

Their most recent enhancement is a collection of lighted palm trees, scattered throughout their 22-acre amusement park complex. Available in three heights, the decorative trees light up park from 9 p.m. to midnight.

"They are beautiful in the daylight and so much more eye appealing at night. The trees come in 10-foot, 16-foot and 25-foot sizes," noted Curt, "and are real life size."

Curt started Go Putt-n-Bump in 1987, built on part of the Shaw family farmstead. His son, Tim, later joined the business in 1990. Today, the business reins of Go Putt-n-Bump have been passed from father to son. Although Tim is responsible for most of the management duties at the park, Curt is still very active in the park's day-to-day operations.

"I still do some maintenance and such, but Tim has taken over the managing of the park," explained the elder Shaw. "I am in charge of selling the trees for now while we are getting them established."

In addition to drawing attention to the park itself, the newly placed tropical trees have afforded the Shaws an innovative business opportunity as local lighted palm tree salesmen.

"I go south in the winter and we have a lot of palm trees down there, lighted and real ones," started Curt. "I thought, I got a unique spot with Go Putt-n-Bump -- next to the water and a busy highway, so I thought I'd feel it out and try selling them."

Available in a variety of colors, the lighted palm trees the Shaws sell feature lighted trunks, fronds and coconuts, commented the local amusement park owners.

"These trees are very real looking and the lights are on the inside, not wound around the outside like a Christmas tree." remarked Curt. "They are very eye catching. We really see the taillights flash on when people go past and see them."

Although the palm trees come in red, yellow, orange, green and blue, Curt noted he purchased only the green ones for his Go Putt-n-Bump venture.

"We live in the north woods, not Florida. Green makes more sense for our park."

In southern parts of the United States where palm trees are more common, colored palm trees are more prevalent, commented Curt, and come in a variety of colors to match houses and businesses.

"They have so many of them down south, they like to have fun with them and have lots of bright colors," he continued.

Custom colors are also available.

"It takes us about seven days to get them in. Delivery is included in the price."

In business where shrinking family size and rising gas prices have taken a bite out of the traditional tourist revenue streams, the Shaws are hoping their lighted palm tree sales will provide a new sales opportunity.

"We get most of our business from tourists, mainly from eastern North Dakota," said Tim. "Gas prices really haven't helped anyone this year."

"People have to eat and lodge. We, entertainment, are the last thing their vacation dollars go towards, therefore we are the first thing to get cut in a pinch," added Curt.

Because of their precarious position at bottom of the tourist trade food chain, Curt commented Go Putt-n-Bump has tried to keep their prices down.

"When we started out, a round of mini-golf was $2.25," explained Tim. "We are only around $4 with all the coupons we offer."

"Our prices have not even doubled over the last 20 years and there are not as many attractions to get tourists here anymore," added Curt. "When we started our amusement park, there was deer park, a big tourist boat and parasailing on Detroit Lake and giant water slide in the area. Now they are all gone."

Trying to draw attention to the park as vacationers travel along Highway 59 South, Go-Putt-n-Bump has added a number of lighted structures over the years such as a sailboat and go-kart.

"We want to keep our name in their minds. The lighted palms trees are just another way to do that," said Tim.

"We are trying to enhance our business," continued Curt, "but know we are getting started with this at the end of the season."

With word of mouth and a few sales under their belt, the Shaws have high hopes for their lighted palm tree sales going forward.

"I am feeling it out right now and thought is would be easier to go through one person at the stage. Once we get established, Tim will start selling them too," he concluded.

Go Putt-n-Bump is located approximately two miles south of Detroit Lakes on Highway 59. If you are interested in more information about the lighted palm trees, or if you would like to purchase one, contact Curt at 218-846-1414.