Remember Buying Your Christmas Trees at Al's Golfdom or Al's Golfhaven?

ad courtesy Al and Susie Fister

Most Memphians "of a certain age" surely remember Al's Golfdom or Al's Golfhaven. Though they started out as fairly basic miniature golf courses, they quickly evolved into full-scale entertainment complexes. And they were, quite simply, some of the best places in Memphis to hang out.

In 1960, Al and Susie Fister opened Al's Golfdom on Perkins, just south of the expressway. Five years later, they opened Al's Golfhaven, on Raines Road and I-55. Both featured a pair of miniature golf courses and a really nice (and long) driving range. But then Al and Susie added giant slides, and baseball batting cages, and concession stands, and go-karts, and other amusements.

During the winter, when it was too cold to play miniature golf, the Fisters turned their parking lots into Al's Christmas Forest, as you can see from this newspaper ad from the 1980s. If you bought a tree, you got a free bucket of balls for the driving range. And look, they sold trees that were 12 feet tall! For a while, Al and Susie also sold Christmas trees in the parking lot of the shopping center at Perkins and Quince.

I told the whole story of Al's Golfdom and Al's Golfhaven in the October 2010 issue of Memphis magazine. But I was wondering: How many of you remember buying your Christmas trees from Al's Christmas Forest?

Reader Comments:
Dec 8, 2013 01:32 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Thanks for the memories Vance.
What ever happened to Al and Susie? Are they still alive? Are they still in Memphis? Any family members still here? They were absolute treasures.
They succeeded with the always true Doobie Brothers philisophy..."all the people need is a way to make them smile."

Dec 9, 2013 03:38 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

My mom and dad are living in Germantown. I remember one Thanksgiving day, we got a surprise phone call that the Christmas tree truck had arrived early and needed to be unloaded. Our entire family and some friends unloaded the truck, finding snow packed between the trees! We used concrete blocks with metal posts embedded in the middle to hold the trees up. My dad drilled and priced the vast majority of the trees. It truly looked like a forest when the trees were spread around the parking lot. My dad and mom liked to work, and my parents would say to treat every customer like a king or queen. Alan Fister

Dec 28, 2013 07:40 pm
 Posted by  tmiller

I worked at Al's Golfhaven for 4 years in high school and college. We had a blast selling Christmas trees. Some cold days but we had these kerosene slamander heaters to keep us warm. Mostly people were in a good mood and happy so there could be tips for loading and tying down the tree. We worked hard when the truck from Michigan arrived with all the trees, then as Alan said, we drilled each one, priced it by type and size, and put it on display. Usually ran out of roping and wreaths early, mistletoe was in short supply and also sold fast. Mostly it put all of us in the Christmas spirit and gave us a little money to spend for gifts and holiday fun. Al and Susie are the nicest people anyone could meet.

Sincerely, Tom Miller

Apr 7, 2014 05:51 pm
 Posted by  Susie

Fisters are alive and fairly well in Germantown. Al was so active that he wore his body down but still has the smile and twinkle. I am more fortunate, but miss my U of M accounting students and the commotion. No more tractor break downs, etc., Much more quiet now, but many, many pleasant memories. Love to all you old customers. Susie

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and MBQ: Inside Memphis Business.  Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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