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updated: 1/9/2012 6:52 AM

Mini-golfers take to the links — inside Glen Ellyn Public LIbrary

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  • Golfers of all ages are invited to participate in the Swinging thru the Stacks tournament Jan. 27 in the Glen Ellyn Public Library.

      Golfers of all ages are invited to participate in the Swinging thru the Stacks tournament Jan. 27 in the Glen Ellyn Public Library.
    Courtesy Glen Ellyn Public Library

  • Sure playing a round of golf at Pebble Beach is thrilling, but the "Alice in Wonderland" hole at the Glen Ellyn Public Library can be pretty darn exciting, too. And you're a lot less likely to get wet.

      Sure playing a round of golf at Pebble Beach is thrilling, but the "Alice in Wonderland" hole at the Glen Ellyn Public Library can be pretty darn exciting, too. And you're a lot less likely to get wet.
    AP Photo

 
 

Dawn Bussey's experience on a golf course is pretty much limited to trying to putt a brightly colored ball through a windmill.

"I don't play the real thing," the executive director of the Glen Ellyn Public Library says, "but I play a pretty mean game of mini-golf."

Which may explain why she took note a while back when a few libraries across the country started playing host to their own indoor mini-golf tournaments, and why last year she brought the idea to Glen Ellyn with the inaugural Swinging thru the Stacks event.

Created as a fundraiser for the library's fledgling Butterfly Garden, last year's tournament attracted about 175 people who putted their way through 18 book-themed holes spread throughout the two-story building.

Bussey says the combination of the positive response from participants and the $9,700 the library raised convinced officials to try it again this year.

So from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27 (the library's normal business day ends an hour earlier), residents are invited to make like Phil Mickelson or Michelle Wie and tackle the newly designed course that literally runs among the bookstacks, which double as near-perfect fairways.

It takes about 45 to 50 minutes to play a round, and organizers figure they can handle up to 300 golfers.

If all goes well, Bussey says, the library hopes to raise more than $10,000 to tackle the second phase of the garden tucked between the north end of the parking lot and the Illinois Prairie Path.

When complete, she says, the haven will include all sorts of butterfly-friendly plants along with benches and signs describing some of the flying creatures you might see there.

"It will be an educational area as well as a good place to sit and read," she says.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Glen Ellyn Library and the Glen Ellyn Public Library Foundation, the mini-golf event will feature 18 distinctive holes, each based on a different story.

This year's course is still in the planning stages, but last year's included an "Around the World in 80 Days" hole, complete with suitcases and a giant globe; a "Julie and Julia" hole with cookbooks and pots and pans; and an "Alice in Wonderland" hole with a rabbit and appropriately dressed characters.

There's entertainment, too. Last year, players who found themselves in the library's music collection were serenaded by three staff members who play instruments.

This year there will even be a Snacks in the Stacks booth after the ninth hole selling candy, popcorn and other goodies.

Bussey says the event is aimed at people of all ages -- it only costs $5 a round -- and is an ideal way to introduce both regular patrons and newcomers to "some great new things in the library."

"This takes them through the stacks, into some corners and around some bends," she says.

Bussey wrote about the success of last year's tournament in a trade publication and has gotten responses from librarians across the country picking her brain for ways to make the same thing work at their facilities.

Question: Where does the library get the golf equipment?

Answer: The Glen Ellyn Park District lends it the putters and balls from its own mini-golf facility that's closed for the season.

Library marketing coordinator Heidi Gustad says the whole evening is "very relaxed" -- more Bill Murray than Tiger Woods, if you get our drift. And while kids are welcome to come in costume, Dad will be happy to know he doesn't necessarily have to wear ugly golf pants.

(For those among you who take the ability to smoothly strike a ball into a clown's mouth seriously, the good news is this: one of the holes will take you right past the golf books, where you can find some expert advice on curing the yips or other potential hazards of putting.)

Bussey says she spent much more time last year greeting and saying goodbye to participants than she did honing her own game. But that was fine with her, because it gave her some insight into just how well the hole, uh, whole, thing went.

"You always know an event is successful," she says, "when people are leaving and asking when you're going to do it again."

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