Rock ‘n’ Bowl takes shape

Owner forecasts mid-February opening

Dan O’Connell walked across the dry, dusty parking lot on Chateau Road, popped through an entry way of his brand new Rock ‘n’ Bowl, and looked as if even he could not believe what he saw.

“It’s real!” he said. “It’s going to happen!”

O’Connell, 52, a Mammoth resident since 2009, this past week led a private tour around the two-story, 26,000-square-foot-structure.

It took a while.

It’s not that the attorney/developer was long-winded.

The length of the tour had more to do with the sheer variety of what is within the walls: three upstairs bays to handle 15-foot-by-9-foot golf/video screens; a downstairs that features 12 bowling alleys and a table-tennis area; a large restaurant upstairs, with an adjoining deck; a vast kitchen; outdoor spaces for regulation horseshoe pits and bocce ball courts; and, finally, a bank vault-looking space where patrons can play “laser maze.”

“I think it’s pretty safe to say that there’s nothing like this anywhere in Mammoth,” O’Connell said of the Bruce Woodward-designed building.

It might be safe to say that there’s nothing like this anywhere, even in cities and towns where bowling/activity centers have been around for some years.

“Most of them,” O’Connell said, “are concrete block structures, but Bruce has designed something that’s very functional and looks good, too.”

The design is mountain contemporary, with plenty of steel and concrete plainly in view.

The exterior is corrugated iron, in shades of green, red, and beige. Inside, the design calls for more steel-and-concrete, creating a thoroughly urban feel.

Though casual observers would not notice, much of the inspiration for Woodward’s design and materials came straight out of Mammoth’s 18th century history.

“You can still see a lot of these materials today up at the mining camp in Old Mammoth,” O’Connell said, “There is a lot of corrugated metal, a lot of concrete and iron.”

Those are central elements in the Rock ‘n’ Bowl superstructure, although the infrastructure is pure state-of-the-art.

Among many modern design elements are full WiFi capabilities.

Chef Matt Eoff, (formerly of Convict Lake Resort), meanwhile, will have a fully modern kitchen with enough size to handle a catering business on top of the restaurant offerings.

The entrance, from Chateau Road, has a long entryway, protected from the northwesterly wind, with a metal walkway that serves to act as a boot-cleaner for customers who are coming in from the cinder-infused snow, soppy dirt or any other leftover outdoor detritus.

Upstairs, the restaurant area is soundproofed from the downstairs bowling activity, and the deck is shielded from the wind by glass panels.

The orientation of the deck is such that direct sunlight will never glare into the interior, offering sunny views without having to use solar screening on the windows.

Where the new technology is most evident is in the golf bay area and the laser maze room.

The golf “screens” are from HD Golf Simulators from Toronto, one of three major companies that manufactures such things.

A golfer will strike a ball directly into the screen.

By using tracking technology, the screen will show the player the flight of his or her ball, its landing spot, and so on, for one of a dozen or so well-known courses, such as Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines, the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, and so on.

This particular design, though, also overlays actual motion picture footage, making it seem less like a video game and more like the real thing.

The rental prices for the bays have not yet been set, O’Connell said, but he is aiming for something in the $20 to $40 an hour range, depending on the demands of the seasonal population. (Five buckets of golf balls at the summer driving ranges average about $20, so the prices are comparable, he said.)

The laser room is where a player will compete against a “Best Score” matrix, earning points or demerits depending on how often he hits a laser beam.

For a quick visual, think “Oceans 11,” O’Connell said.

The contractor, Neubauer-Jennison, Inc., of Mammoth, currently is on or slightly ahead of schedule, O’Connell said, but he was not able to pinpoint a specific day or weekend that Rock ‘n’ Bowl will be ready to rock.

“It will be done when it’s done,” O’Connell said. “It’s a very big project.”