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By Kate Daly
Special to the Almanac
Remnants of a forgotten piece of history have surfaced right on Woodside Road in Woodside -- some earthy mounds of dirt, rocks and concrete that blend right into the landscape despite their colorful past.
In 1924 or 1925, when miniature golf was sweeping the country as a new craze, building contractor Frank Mowee bought an acre of land at 3270 Woodside Road across the street from the elementary school, according to the late Jacques Audiffred who lived nearby for many years.
Mr. Audiffred recalled the property being subdivided to build a home on the back half-acre and a miniature golf course on the front half.
Shortly before his death last year, Mr. Audiffred wrote down what he remembered:
"A small club house was built where you rented your club and picked up your golf ball for 25 cents a play. ... When you played this ninth hole, your ball would drop down through a pipe and roll into the club house to be caught in a bucket."
"This golf course became so famously successful that Mr. Mowee erected electric lights so the course could be played at night," Mr. Audiffred wrote.
"It was truly fun, while it lasted!" the narration continued, but, "in 1929 as the Depression set in, that was the end of the miniature golf course."
Eventually, the little club house was torn down, and part of the foundation was used to build a new house for the Pete Jarvis family in 1942, Mr. Audiffred explained. "The golf course, itself, was left to the elements and slowly disappeared from view due to the growth of weeds and a large growth of poison oak."
The late George Sellman, who was superintendent of the Woodside School District, then bought the property from the Jarvises, and moved his family there in 1969, Mr. Sellman's daughter, Jennifer Anderson, says.
"One summer, not long after we moved there, my brother and I tried to remove some of the blackberries and that's when we discovered some of the rock work -- stone walls and paths," she says. "We weren't sure what it was, garden landscape or what?"
She vaguely remembers thinking it might have been a miniature golf course after finding a golf ball or two, but it wasn't until last year after her mother, Joan, passed away, that Ms. Anderson had the yard cleared and the old course revealed itself.
As Mr. Audiffred wrote: "The ninth hole was uncovered, still in its original glorious shape. There was also found a small rock bridge that was part of the course."
Coldwell Banker Realtor Jim Milton of Woodside is currently working with Ms. Anderson to rent out the remodeled three-bedroom, two-bath home.
A more recent clearing of "a forest of acacias" on the side yard unveiled even more holes from the old course, he says. Several raised platforms are now exposed, featuring rock walls and cement decorated with "little curlicues."
These days a black feral cat nicknamed "Lucky" meanders among the ruins. Who knows how many others once tried their luck on the old course?
Now that "you can see more of the golf course than ever before just makes me want to know more," says Ms. Anderson.