Tee off at Elmhurst Art Museum's new artistic mini-golf course

  • Rendering of Hole No. 1, "Cross-Section Castle" by A Couple of Putts (Robin Schwartzman and Tom Loftus)

    Rendering of Hole No. 1, "Cross-Section Castle" by A Couple of Putts (Robin Schwartzman and Tom Loftus) Courtesy of Elmhurst ARt Museum

Updated 5/28/2021 9:40 AM

In a unique collision of recreation and art, the Elmhurst Art Museum joins forces with Colossal founder Christopher Jobson to curate two 9-hole golf courses made by artists Par Excellence Redux.

The "Front 9" opens at the museum July 7 through Sept. 16, 2021, and "The Back 9" will continue the fun Oct. 13 to Jan. 2, 2022.


The fully playable course, designed by artists and architects from the Midwest and beyond, pays homage to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's wildly popular 1988 exhibition, "Par Excellence." Tee time reservations are made online and available beginning June 1 at elmhurstartmuseum.org/golf.

Par Excellence Redux promises an unusual twist on a familiar pastime throughout the museum's galleries as players explore a surprisingly varied collection of themes -- from social justice to the occult. The exhibition includes a fortune-telling hole that has the power to dramatically change scores as well as a hole that challenges players with an optical illusion. The exhibition was originally slated to open May 9, 2020, but was postponed due to COVID-19 and has since been reimagined to abide by current city and state safety mandates.

"Front 9," on display throughout the museum's main galleries, includes:

• Hole No. 1, "Cross-Section Castle" by A Couple of Putts design duo Robin Schwartzman and Tom Loftus (Minneapolis, Minnesota), features an alternative take on a mini-golf castle by providing players a glimpse at the ball's journey through ramps and around custom-made figures inside.

• Hole No. 2, "Participation Trophy" by Jesse Meredith (Chicago, Illinois), features numerous golf holes on a rounded turf, providing multiple routes for a winning shot.

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• Hole No. 3, "Straight Shot," created by design collective Current Projects (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) sends players through a small room constructed to skew perspective and create an optical illusion of greater depth.

• Hole No. 4, "Razzle Dazzle" by Andrea Jablonski & Stolatis Inc. (Chicago, Illinois) utilizes ramps, a loop, and intersecting geometric shapes to provide fun and difficulty through contrasting camouflage patterns.

• Hole No. 5, "Greens of Cabrini," by Julie Cowan (Evanston, Illinois) allows the player to putt through time, starting with the aspiration opening of The Cabrini Green Homes, through the rise of the Old Town Square retail development.

• Hole No. 6, "Just Desserts" by Latent Design (Chicago, Illinois) is a spiraling colorful cone that a golfer must use to bridge from the heights of the putting green and the lows of the hole.


• Hole No. 7, "Chairy Who?" by Gautum Rao (Indianapolis, Indiana) features obstacles of iconic mid-Century furniture in homage to the museum's McCormick House.

• Hole No. 8, by Elmhurst Art Museum's Teen Art Council, a putter-free hole, sends golf balls through maze-like tubes with their own set of rules.

• Hole No. 9, "Determine Your Fate" by Annalee Koehn (Chicago, Illinois) is equal parts skills-challenge, game of chance and fortune cookie.

Four archival photos of Par Excellence & ArtGolf exhibits from 1988-1992. The first popular exhibition Par Excellence in 1988 was the brainchild of sculptor Michael O'Brien.
Four archival photos of Par Excellence & ArtGolf exhibits from 1988-1992. The first popular exhibition Par Excellence in 1988 was the brainchild of sculptor Michael O'Brien. - Courtesy of Colossal

The original 1988 Par Excellence exhibition at the School of the Art Institute was the brainchild of Chicago sculptor Michael O'Brien and opened to queues down the block. The exhibition in Elmhurst will pay homage to the original course through ephemera, newspaper clippings, and photos. The designer Annalee Koehn, who was one of the organizers of the original 1988 exhibit, will recreate her fortune-telling hole Determine Your Fate. Par Excellence was likely the first artist-designed mini-golf course ever created and paved the way for future artistic golf courses that would follow.

Back 9 artists will be announced in July 2021.

Colossal is an international platform for contemporary art and visual expression that celebrates a vast range of creative disciplines. Founded as a blog in 2010 by writer and curator Christopher Jobson, the site has over 6,500 published articles from contributors across the globe and reaches tens of millions of readers monthly on several online channels. Colossal is based in Chicago, and now works internationally to curate and produce large-scale art exhibitions and film events. Learn more at thisiscolossal.com/about and christopher.jobs/on/.

New museum hours

The Elmhurst Art Museum is located at 150 S. Cottage Hill Ave., 25 minutes from downtown Chicago by car or public transportation (Metra). On the museum's campus is the McCormick House, a single-family home designed in 1952 by Mies van der Rohe, one of the great architects of the 20th Century. The McCormick House is one of only three residences designed and built by Mies in the United States -- and one of only two open to the public.

As a unique arts complex, the Elmhurst Art Museum is deeply committed to three distinct areas of focus to inspire and enrich our community: art, education, and architecture. The Museum is one block from the Elmhurst Metra station and beginning July 7, 2021, the museum will resume its new hours and will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Sunday. It also is open every second Friday of the month from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Golf prices are $10 for age 16 or older, $8 for seniors, $5 for children (ages 5-15), or free for kids under age 5. For more information, call (630) 834-0202 or visit elmhurstartmuseum.org.

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