Ace in the hole: Mini-golf courses adapt to COVID-19 safety protocols
It makes sense the British use the term "crazy golf" to describe what Americans have come to call miniature golf. On a traditional 18-hole golf course, it would be weird if you encountered wacky putting obstructions like a model-sized roller coaster or candy-colored castles.
But for many outdoor suburban Chicago mini-golf courses that have reopened amid the global coronavirus pandemic, the expression "crazy golf" can be related to the times we're living in.
"This year has been crazy-different," said Josh Williams, an athletic supervisor who manages Miner Mike's Adventure Golf for the Downers Grove Park District. "We've had to take a lot of different precautions when it comes to the safety of the players."
This year, mini-golf courses had to wait until mid-June to open for the season. That's when outdoor recreation was deemed acceptable under Phase 3 conditions of the Illinois Department of Heath's "Restore Illinois" reopening guidelines. Extra cleaning precautions also came into play.
"After each game, the handles are sanitized on the clubs and the golf balls are dunked in a sanitizer a couple of times and then they're washed off in addition," said Chris Boznos, the manager of Par-King Skill Golf in Lincolnshire.
"All of our employees are wearing masks, and the customers are required to wear masks as they enter the indoor part of our facility," Boznos continued.
Some courses aren't as strict about masks while guests are playing outdoors. But they may limit the number of people per golf party. And players are also advised to observe proper social distancing with six feet being the suggested space to be separated from each other.
"It's been going smoothly," said Boznos about the Par-King's summer season so far. "My impression is that everyone just wants to come out and play mini golf to get their mind off what's happening out in the world."
Where to mini golf
Here's a partial list of Chicago-area outdoor miniature golf courses. As with all activities amid the coronavirus pandemic, it is advised to call ahead or look online for hours, safety restrictions, reservations or admission limits before visiting in person.
100 Naperville Road, Wheaton, (630) 665-4710 or wheatonparkdistrict.com.
1325 Barrington Road, Hoffman Estates, (847) 843-1778 or golfcongoriver.com.
27W650 North Ave., West Chicago, (630) 784-6100 or csparks.org.
141 W. Diversey Parkway, Chicago, (312) 742-7929 or diversey.cpdgolf.com.
26W101 Lake St., Hanover Park, (630) 289-6600 or greenvalleygolfrange.com.
845 Pershing Ave., Glen Ellyn, (630) 469-7888 or gepark.org.
5051 Cal Sag Road, Crestwood, (708) 389-7275 or crestwood.inthegame.net.
0S480 Route 83, Oakbrook Terrace, (630) 530-1313 or jus-fun.com.
421 W. Rollins Road, Round Lake Beach, (847) 546-2512 or kristof.net.
1535 75th St., Woodridge, (630) 985-4653 or lostmountainadventuregolf.com.
McCollum Park, 6801 S. Main St., Downers Grove, (630) 963-8793 or dgparks.org/miner-mikes-adventure-golf.
510 E. Algonquin Road, Des Plaines, (847) 391-5733 or dpparks.org.
3650 W. Devon Ave., Lincolnwood, (847) 679-9434 or noveltygolf.com.
21711 Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire, (847) 634-0333 or par-king.com.
8125 W. 95th St., Hickory Hills, (708) 430-7900 or pgn-fun.com.
7135 N. Harlem Ave., Niles, (847) 583-2746 or niles-parks.org.
950 W. Lake St., Addison, (630) 233-7275, opt. 4, or addisonparks.org.
3459 Oakton St., Skokie, (847) 674-1500, ext. 3100, or skokieparks.org/skokie-sports-park.
101 North St., Geneva, (630) 232-4542 or genevaparks.org.
145 S. Clow International Parkway, Bolingbrook, (630) 378-8888 or wildernessfalls.com.