Bird-Inspired Miniature Golf Course Opens This Weekend on Chicago’s West Side

Douglass 18 Opens to Public August 7 in North Lawndale

Chicago (August 4, 2021) — Tee-rific news! Community-led, youth-designed, conservation-themed miniature golf course, Douglass 18, opens to the public this Saturday, August 7 in North Lawndale.

Obstacles and sculptures for the 18-hole miniature golf course are all inspired by the 205 species of migratory birds that pass through the park each year.

“After years in the making, it’s inspiring and exciting to see our vision, imagination, and design finally come to life,” said Tiffany Tam, a Douglass 18 youth participant and artist. “The transformation of the golf course is incredible! I’m proud to have been a part of Douglass 18 and can’t wait for the community to come together and enjoy a round or two of miniature golf.”

Douglass 18 Miniature Golf Course will be open from May 1–October 30 annually. Operating hours are Monday–Friday 11 a.m.–7 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m. The course will be closed Sundays.

The cost to play is $5 per game with certain specials occurring weekly, such as Two for Tuesday where two play for the price of one from 8:00 a.m. – noon.

The project began in 2018 when Lincoln Park Zoo and community partners came together to co-create an opportunity for North Lawndale residents to connect with nature, the heart of the zoo’s mission. With the support of the Chicago Park District, the underutilized golf course quickly rose to the top of ideas that would provide a fun, active, nature-inspired community space.

“We are excited about the opening of the Douglass 18 golf course,” said Sheila McNary, executive member of the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council. “It will provide a warm, family-friendly place that will offer sports, access to nature, fresh air, and sunshine. The unique design of the course, along with its bird theme, will aid in conservation by raising awareness of the 205 species of birds that migrate to Douglass Park. Douglass 18 will not only improve the quality of life for North Lawndale residents, but also help us build a sense of community where all residents of Chicago can come together to reclaim and share this public space”.

Once the project was decided, 40 teens over the course of two years worked alongside lead teaching artists Eric Hotchkiss of the School of the Art Institute and Haman Cross III of Firehouse Community Arts Center to brainstorm obstacles. The designs were then modeled, tested, prototyped, and brought to life in the fabrication process. The artistic obstacles are inspired by the migratory birds found in the park and are designed to highlight different species’ history, diet, threats, coloration, and other distinguishing features. The obstacle designs were displayed at community events (pre-pandemic), reaching more than 400 neighborhood residents to garner community feedback.

Douglass 18 was made possible by a Lincoln Park Zoo supporter who provided a $800,000 gift for the co-created project.

“Ensuring Chicagoans have access to green space and a chance to connect with nature, both in their neighborhoods and at the zoo itself, is the lifeblood of the zoo’s mission and vision,” said Lisa Hyatt, director of community engagement at Lincoln Park Zoo. “I am in awe of the dedication of the young artists and environmentalists who brought Douglass 18 to life.”

The Douglass 18 project would not have been possible without the support of the many dedicated partners, including the Chicago Park District, Haman Cross III, Eric Hotchkiss, Sheila McNary, Open Architecture Chicago, David Brown of the UIC School of Architecture, Firehouse Community Arts Center, School of the Art Institute of Chicago at Homan Square, The Trust for Public Land, site design group, ltd. (site), and Lincoln Park Zoo.

“Recreational spaces, like the mini-golf course in Douglass Park, are great community assets that can only be enhanced when cultural and natural design elements are incorporated,” said Michael P. Kelly, General Superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Park District. “This project is an example of how leveraging the strengths and expertise of our partners helps uplift those assets to better engage the community and improve our built environment.”

Additional financial support provided by L.L.Bean, and Ward 24 Alderman Michael Scott, Jr.

To learn more about Douglass 18, follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about Lincoln Park Zoo, visit lpzoo.org.

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About Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo inspires communities to create environments where wildlife will thrive in our urbanizing world. The zoo is a leader in local and global conservation, animal care and welfare, learning, and science. A historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868, Lincoln Park Zoo is a privately managed, member-supported nonprofit organization and is free and open 365 days a year. Visit us at lpzoo.org.