It’s summer in Chicago and golf bars, or miniature golf bars, keep popping up around town. The latest is Big Mini Lakeview, a sprawling new follow-up to Wicker Park’s Big Mini Putt Club, with a dozen draft beers, a nine-hole course, and a charming DIY style that sets the sister spots apart from a crowded field of corporate golf simulator chains.
The sequel opens Thursday, June 22 at 3655 N. Halsted Street. Big Mini co-owners Nicholas Jenkins and Austin DeLonge have touched nearly every inch of the nearly 8,000-square-foot space. The duo designed and built a new course to draw fans and novices with larger and more difficult holes than those in Wicker Park. “We are very particular about every nail and screw that goes into the holes,” said Jenkins in February. “We enjoy testing them out ourselves, figuring out what works and what doesn’t.”
They’ve also worked to cultivate an indoor-outdoor feeling with large, retractable glass garage doors and an operable skylight in the building’s 25-foot bow truss ceiling, which fill the space with natural light during the day. When the links get crowded, patrons can turn to other entertainment, including a new tabletop golf game the co-owners invented.
The game is generally improved by a boozy beverage, and over time, the co-owners plan to tailor the drink lineup to neighborhood preferences. The opening menus include 12 draft beer options with a strong contingent of local breweries including Maplewood, Dovetail, and Burnt City, as well as cocktails like Gopher Juice (gin, blueberry, lime, ginger beer) and a Hazard Highball (bourbon, strawberry, lime, club soda). To emphasize the theme of fairway fun, Jenkins and DeLonge have brought in a slushy machine to create a rotating selection of boozy frozen beverages.
The co-owners have made enormous strides since 2019 when they first announced plans to open the first Big Mini Putt Club on Milwaukee Avenue. A litany of pandemic obstacles lead to a lengthy two-year opening timeline, and even after its debut in 2021, groups of players were capped at four and staggered 15 minutes apart to create social distance. Nevertheless, it accumulated a loyal following that Jenkins and DeLonge hope will only grow in their spacious new digs.
Big Mini Lakeview, 3655 N. Halsted Street, Open 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 4 p.m. to midnight Thursday; 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday; noon to 11 p.m. Sunday.