Mini golfers flock to new bird-themed, youth-designed course in Douglass Park — ‘a beautiful oasis’

The public got a first look at the 18-hole mini golf course, located behind the Douglass Park Cultural Center and Fieldhouse on Saturday.

SHARE Mini golfers flock to new bird-themed, youth-designed course in Douglass Park — ‘a beautiful oasis’
Khalid Hannah, left, plays mini golf with his son Khalil, right, on the opening day of the Douglass 18 mini golf course in the North Lawndale neighborhood on Saturday morning.

Khalid Hannah, left, plays mini golf with his son Khalil, right, on the opening day of the Douglass 18 mini golf course in the North Lawndale neighborhood on Saturday morning.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A group of Chicago teens helped turn a once vacant, grassy area in Douglass Park into a miniature golf course that’s as educational as it is fun.

The public on Saturday got its free first shot at playing the new 18-hole mini golf course, called “Douglass 18.” People of all ages, including parents with young children, took turns vying for holes-in-one on the conservation-themed course.

“It’s great,” Albany Park resident Christopher Lampa said after sinking a shot on No. 7. “I’m definitely enjoying it so far.”

Funded by corporate sponsors, Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th) and a private donor from the Lincoln Park Zoo, the roughly $900,000 project had been in the works for more than three years. Each hole, designed by West Side teens, was inspired by one or two of the 200-plus species of birds that migrate through Douglass Park every year.

“It’s a big birding hotspot,” said Jaeda Branch, Lincoln Park Zoo’s community program lead for North Lawndale. “Birders [from] all over like to come here, especially during bird migration, because there’s 100% chance you’ll see some great birds here. And so I think for people in North Lawndale, I want them... to take pride in their neighborhood because this is such a great place and I feel like a lot of people don’t know about this beautiful oasis for birds.”

Khalid Hannah and his son Khalil play mini golf on the opening day of the Douglass 18 mini golf course in the North Lawndale neighborhood Saturday.

Khalid Hannah and his son Khalil play mini golf on the opening day of the Douglass 18 mini golf course in the North Lawndale neighborhood Saturday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Branch hopes the course inspires people to be more aware of their actions at the park and to start taking better care of nature in general by not littering.

“It’s important because right now it’s a great oasis, but we want people to be conscious of their actions of things to make sure that it stays a beautiful oasis,” Branch said.

Camron Smith and Lisa Smith took their 4-year-old son, Kayden, for a fun — yet competitive — round of putt-putt Saturday afternoon.

“Biggest thing is I want to make sure that I beat my wife because she’s very competitive, so I’ve got a scorecard,” Camron said playfully. Winner gets bragging rights, he added.

His first impression of the course? “It’s beautiful.”

Virginia Hyatt plays mini golf on the opening day of the Douglass 18 mini golf course in the North Lawndale neighborhood.

Virginia Hyatt plays mini golf on the opening day of the Douglass 18 mini golf course in the North Lawndale neighborhood.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“To have something like this on the West Side of Chicago, it’s something different, it’s needed, and just kind of gives a different look and kind of idea of what people think the West Side is,” said Camron, who was born and raised in Austin. “This is a nice start and hopefully more investment and reinvestment really should happen on the West Side, and also South Side.”

J.B. Lewis, a 17-year-old who’s the social-media engagement manager for Douglass 18, took pride in playing a part in the grand opening of the mini golf course. He said the course is “super fun” and not too difficult. It’ll be nice, he added, to be able to hit up the putting green in Douglass Park rather than traveling downtown for mini golf.

Lewis, a high school senior who lives in the neighborhood, also hopes Douglass 18 will draw more people to the West Side.

“It’s been perceived as being very dangerous, violent and things like that. And Douglass 18, making this new main attraction, [it] has been great to see all these people, and just to show that the neighborhood is actually family-friendly and safe,” he said.

The course is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and closed Sunday. A round costs $5.


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