Played July 21, 2014
Review by Mr. Tee
My Halloween nights from 2006 to 2011 were spent in the Haunted Basement of The Soap Factory, a Minneapolis art gallery. I worked in various roles to help scare the crap out of over 10,000 people every October and loved every minute of it. When we first started this blog, we searched through lists of best of and unique mini golf courses and this one immediately stood out. A mini golf course in the basement of an active funeral home that is death themed. Sold! The owner built it for both his kids and the community and the notion of demystifying death through mini golf was intriguing. We attempted to go in the Summer of 2013 on our annual July jaunt to Chicago but they were booked with real funerals the whole time. I called ahead earlier this year and was thrilled to possibly play even though the Pink Putter wasn’t making the trip this time. The beginning of a potential scary story starts with “I went by myself to a Chicago suburb on a Monday afternoon to the basement of a funeral home. Upon arrival I was greeted by a man in a full dark suit and quickly found out there was no cell phone coverage in the basement. My heart was racing.” This is no tale of doom and gloom though. The whole experience was pure fun!
Hole-in-One – The idea of going to a funeral home has never been exciting until now. The 9 holes are equally dark and campy, like a good horror film. This homemade course references traditional tropes associated with mini golf like windmills and light houses, and death. A skull from the creator’s mortuary school experience, a rail box used for transporting dead bodies, a kitschy haunted house filled with sound effects, a graveyard and a guillotine. The atmosphere is equally creepy as it is fun. The combined noises from the HVAC system, haunting sound effects CD and video games add perfectly to the natural ambiance. The play was challenging and it took a few times playing through the course to really get close to par. Shuffleboard, pool, video games, snooker and pinball are available to play as well and surround the course. Remember I’m talking about the basement of a funeral home. Mr. Ahlgrim found a way to embrace the notion of play in a space where few would consider it and did it without desire for financial gain. I salute you Mr. Ahlgrim and your staff. You’re our type of people. I’ve already gone on too long and I’ll let the videos and photos speak for themselves.
(I apologize in advance for quality of the photos. The basement lighting made it challenging and I’m not nearly as good of a photographer as the Pink Putter. Hopefully you can get the overall vibe from the videos and photos)
I document my entrance to the basement.
Basement of a funeral home
Death themed to fit the location
Tons of personal touches by the owner / creator Mr. Ahlgrim
Full arcade / game room
Massive traditional windmill in the parking lot
Sense of pride comes through
Only 9 holes (I would love to play more)
Some of the holes are a little ramshackle (but still charming)
- 9 Holes, Par 23
- Variety of putters and balls (see photo above)
- Custom score cards and pens
- Free coffee, tea and hot chocolate from machine in other room
- My guide from the funeral home once held a record of most consecutive games in 24 hours with 36 rounds at one point in the 80s.
- House rules on a number of holes detailed in score card
- The basement / game room is “strictly never used during funeral business”
- Course was built in the mid to late 60s when Mr. Ahlgrim moved into the new building in Palatine.
- The overall family business was established in 1862
- Many of the games and kitsch in the basement had bizarre and interesting stories behind them.