Some serious miniature golf

By Tara McManus

The Chicago Ridge Park District’s miniature golf course will be the host site for two prestigious miniature golf tournaments to be held over the next two weekends.

The Illinois State Open 2012 Miniature Golf Tournament will be held July 21 at Ball Fore, 107th Street and Oak Park Avenue, while the U.S. Open 2012 Miniature Golf Tournament will be held there from Friday, July 27 through Sunday, July 29.

The Illinois Open is open to anyone willing to fork over the $50 entry fee. First place wins $150 and free entrance to the U.S. Open, second place is awarded $75, and third place receives $50. Ball Fore is expecting between 12 and 20 golfers for the Illinois Open, according to Chicago Ridge Park District director Kevin King.

Ball Fore, which opened in 2007, has been picked to host the Illinois Open every year since 2008. King credits the honor to the course’s “signature holes,” including a hole where the ball must travel through a water trap and over a bridge to get a hole-in-one.

Most competitors in the Illinois Open come from Illinois, however, some competitors will travel from North Carolina, Missouri and even the Czech Republic, King said.

The three-day U.S. Open is also open to everyone, and awards prizes through 20th place. First place wins $5,000 and an automatic bid to the Masters National ProMiniGolf Championship held in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in September. Second place will take home $1,000, fourth place receives $400, and fifth place receives $200. Those who place sixth through 10th receive $100, and 11th through 20th places receive $50. There are also first- and second- place awards for women and seniors, with first place earning $200 and second place earning $100.

The U.S. Open is the second largest competition on the promini golf circuit, King said. Ball Fore is expecting more than 50 golfers from 18 different states to enter.

This year will mark the second time Ball Fore has hosted the U.S. Open. It first hosted it in 2009 and won the honor to host it again, although King said it is rare for the same course to host the tournament twice within a five-year period.

“We beat out a Disney miniature golf course as well as a new miniature golf course in Pennsylvania to host it. It’s quite an honor,” King said. “It has a nice economic impact. People coming in for a week, staying in hotels, shopping, eating in the restaurants in Chicago Ridge and Worth. It’s a great thing to have.”