Unveiling 2021 Improvements Memorial Day Weekend!

Our beautiful nature garden that surrounds the course is being spruced up by Jeffrey Edwin Wise (JEW) Lawn Care while artist, Jeff Semmerling of Art Side Out Studio is painting and restoring the Mini Golf Course features each hand made by John Thomas Novotney (“Gus”) in the 1960’s. “After showing some photos of the Lighthouse hole before and after the work I did on it to my son he remarked, “That’s an Art Restoration you are doing.” I realized he was right and have changed my pace and attitude toward the project accordingly,” says Semmerling, 45 year Artist/Performer/Mask Maker and amusement park raconteur. He is the “Official Handmade Red Nose Maker of Patch Adams’ Gesundheit Institute,” and known around the world for his beautiful/comfortable masquerade masks Used in Theater, Opera, Dance and other performances as well as by serious merrymakers around the world. “In the first week of work pealing many layers of paint back to prep for painting I began to realize the entire park was hand crafted on site by engineer, craftsman, outsider artist John Tomas Novotney (“Gus” as he was known). (Link to his Obituary here:

Semmerling began playing this very special Mini Golf Course and Driving Range and Batting Cages complex in the early 1980’s when his Comedy Show “The Mud Show” began many years of performances at the Maryland Renaissance Festival (In those Days located in the Symphony Woods of Columbia, Maryland). “The Rube Goldberg like design of shoots, tunnels and banks made a deep impression on me. All the features are part of the course not just decorations on the side of it. My love for this course taught me to seek out these smaller homemade courses from pre 1970 from then on, but I have to say all the others have the Dinosaur/Rooster/roadside attraction type features obviously made in a factory. Not Gus’s course even the fabulous playfully abstracted choo-choo train (evocative of the “Soul Train” animation from the old Sunday Morning TV show) was crafted out of wood and covered in Fiberglass on the site, by hand by Gus!”

Speaking of Rube Goldberg Gus also designed a 4 conveyer belt automatic golf ball washing machine. The Press is invited to visit and see this amazing mechanism move dirty balls fresh off the driving range field from a hopper through an auto wash and to the counter of the Driving Range. “The family, Gus’s son Steve Novotney and Owner Carol Detwiler with a small staff work their butts off everyday gathering up the balls from the field to keep ahead of demand to hit them back out there from the 59 Tees, 27 covered,” Artist Jeff Semmerling will tell you. “They beat me here every day and one or the other of them is here when I check out.’ Carol has been hand scooping up the balls the tractor rig misses “since I was 9 years old,” she says rubbing her elbow. Her husband Dutch Detwiler is a local Soft Pitch hero who is in the Hall of Fame. Most days he sits in front of his wall of photos/honors and championship rings behind the counter where you will get you equipment to pay and play Mini Golf. “With all he made happen and all the lives his creation touches I think of Gus as the ‘Little Walt Disney’ of Howard County. I LOVE coming to do this work on his creation. Bringing it back is a joy but watching and hearing the child in people of all ages whoop at their “hole in one!” and fill the park with laughter That truly lifts my spirit.”

For more information to contact Jeff or Carol and to arrange a tour call 773 697-5012 Jeff’s cell.



The above information is via press release on May 22nd.

Here are photos that accompanied the press release:

Visit the Rocky Gorge website here:

Scott E


  1. The restoration looks great and would be quite a joy for people interested in mini-golf. The place indeed brings smiles on people’s faces and they do have a great time here.

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