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Blade & Timber returns to downtown Lawrence

The ax is back, this time alongside a novel miniature golf experience.

by Steven Hill

After a fire closed Blade & Timber in 2019, Massachusetts Street suffered a dearth of (sanctioned) ax-throwing options. No more. Swell Spark, the Kansas City interactive entertainment company led by Matt Baysinger (“All for Fun, Fun for All,” issue No. 3, 2019), returned to Lawrence in August, opening its seventh Blade & Timber location, at 722 Mass.

The 9,000-square-foot building, which formerly housed Signs of Life bookstore, dedicates 2,000 feet to competitive ax throwing (think darts, but with bigger projectiles). The remaining space will house a unique miniature golf and craft cocktail combo called Sinkers Lounge, scheduled to open in 2024.

“Mini golf is a concept that in the ’80s and ’90s started to get a little stale,” says Baysinger, c’09, g’11. “We’ve made it a little more contemporary with a really cool concept called tabletop golf. It’s mini golf played on a billiard-style table with this thing we call a sinker—essentially a pool cue with a putter head.”

The Lawrence Sinkers joins the original Kansas City location in the Power & Light District and a second opening in Manhattan this fall. Along with seven Blade & Timber outlets in five states, Swell Spark operates escape rooms in Kansas City, Leawood and Honolulu.

“Our mission is to gather people for shared experiences and make it easy to have fun,” a tough business model to sustain through COVID restrictions, Baysinger notes. “The pandemic was not kind to the entertainment industry, but it certainly stirred up an appetite for social gatherings. Folks are eager to hang out now, and we’re grateful for that.”

Steven Hill is associate editor of Kansas Alumni magazine.

Photo by Steve Puppe

Issue 3, 2023


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