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The Funeral Parlor With Mini-Golf

A chat with Roger Ahlgrim of Ahlgrim Family Funeral Services in Palatine, quite possibly the world’s only funeral home with putting greens

Photo: Jessica Mlinaric

Um, how to put this … Why?

When we built the place in 1964, we ended up with a large basement. I loved miniature golf, so the first thing I put in was an eight-hole course. Then it just grew every year. I put a shuffleboard court in, Ping-Pong, video games.

Are mini golf enthusiasts and the bereaved a natural crossover market?

People have asked us, “During the wake, can our friends go downstairs and play?” But we don’t allow that. We close the room off completely when there’s business upstairs — noise comes up through the heating ducts.

So who are your downstairs customers?

The Cub Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Brownies, YMCA Adventure Guides. The Palatine Fire Department had their Christmas party down there.

What are the course’s most popular features?

On hole 1, we have a skull. It isn’t a real skull; it’s metal. I drilled holes in the eyes and added red lights blinking on and off. People have to shoot around that in the sand trap. Hole 2 is an old shipping box that we used to ship bodies by rail. I drilled holes in the bottom and put troughs inside. My daughter built the mausoleum for hole 7. Then we have a guillotine. Of course, every mini golf course has a guillotine.

What’s your favorite hole?

The haunted house — hole 6 — because you have to shoot the ball into the front door and it goes up a ramp, but nobody knows the ramp is split at the top. So if the ball goes to the right, it just comes back out. We have spooky sounds in there and skulls looking out the window. I built it myself.

Have the attractions been good for business?

We’ve had funeral customers say, “We called you because I was here as a kid playing your miniature golf course as a Cub Scout.”

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