Play time in new family golf park

Growing Golf

Imagine a course where you play golf on a summer’s day, wind down with some disc golf, enjoy a movie night in the evening, then come winter you could even participate in cross-country skiing races.

This is precisely what The Glen Golf Park in Madison, Wisconsin, some 80 minutes from Milwaukee and Lake Michigan, is proposing after reopening earlier in July.

The relaunch itself featured yard games, a putting contest, a screening of the Disney movie Encanto, kite flying and some short game golf.

“Free and accessible parks benefit all our lives and are the core values of the Madison Parks Foundation,” executive director Stephanie Franklin said. 

“The course has been completely transformed and upgraded to make the course more environmentally friendly and accessible, even to non-golfers.”

Formerly Glenway Golf Course, which opened in 1927, redesign work began in May 2021 after the city’s Golf Enterprise Program was hit in recent decades by competition, failing infrastructure and unstable revenues. 

It is not just in Madison that golf has come under pressure and had to rethink its future – it’s a global issue.

City of Madison Parks Superintendent Eric Knepp has countered critics of such golf developments – and specifically those towards The Glen Golf Park about the slow greens – by emphasizing this less exclusive, more open-minded approach can ultimately be good for golf.

“It’s a fun course to play. It’s a good challenge, it’s not at the expense of golf – it’s sharing the space with public users,” he said.

“I think we’re proving great golf, great nature, and great non-golf uses can co-exist and thrive.”

National Golf Foundation statistics from June showed non-golfers in the USA are vitally important to the golf industry, with mini-golf contributing in a “meaningful way to golf’s latent demand pool by raising awareness and interest in a fun, non-threatening way.”

The NGF revealed 16% of non-golfers found mini-golf interesting, compared to just 4% of the same audience when asked about traditional golf formats.