AUSTIN (KXAN) — For 75 years, Peter Pan Mini-Golf has been a mainstay in the fabric of Austin’s local business scene. Located off the intersection of Barton Springs Road and S. Lamar Boulevard, brothers Glenn, Jack and Clifford Dismukes launched the business in 1948.
Originally, the mini-golf site was named Varsity Links, according to reporting from the Austin Business Journal. Come the 1950s, the owners embraced the Peter Pan theme that stays with the business today.
Glenn Dismukes hand-sculpted the figurines and characters that adorn the course. His daughter and current co-owner, Margaret Dismukes Massad, told ABJ last year her father began creating the sculptures in the 1950s and carried the practice into the 1960s.
Dismukes Massad and her husband, Julio Massad, took over the business in 2019 as a retirement job of sorts.
“I think the secret to our success that my brother continued on until he passed away, and we’re keeping, is that we just don’t change anything,” Dismukes Massad told ABJ. “And I think that is our best-selling point, is that people love the continuity.”
In the decades since it’s opening, Margaret and Julio said a couple extra coats of paints have been added here, with some additional figures created by sculptor Cheryl Latimer added there — but overall, each said they wanted the business to encapsulate Old Austin sentiments.
“We’re known for being really laid-back,” she told ABJ. “We are like ‘Keep Austin Weird’ — it has been our mantra.”
Its historic roots extend beyond its tenure operating in Austin. In an email to KXAN Thursday, the couple said the land the business sits on is designated as a “State Archaeological Landmark” by the Texas Antiquities Committee and the Texas Historical Commission.
TAC documents read the site “contains the remains of prehistoric camps dating between 3,000 BC and 1,500 AD,” Dismukes Massad added.
Now, the storied business’ future remains in flux. In a rapidly developing Austin burgeoning with million-dollar properties, tech businesses and a soaring population, ABJ reporting revealed both Peter Pan Mini-Golf and the adjacent, now-demolished McDonald’s restaurant next door have been caught up in real estate dealings involving a state agency.
“The fate of these sites will be in the hands of an as-yet-unknown individual: a trustee who will be appointed to oversee family trusts that control the land in question and were set up to aid the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and the state’s orphans,” ABJ reported.
Previously, Dismukes Massad and Massad told ABJ they planned to continue the business for several years, even as its current lease was slated to end in April 2024. Now, it’s future remains in limbo.