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Walking down memory lane in Lincoln: Cool Crest miniature golf course
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Walking down memory lane in Lincoln: Cool Crest miniature golf course

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When I first arrived at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in September 1958, a whole new world opened up for me. I was living in a “big city” after growing up in a small Nebraska town of just over 3,000 people in Superior, Nebraska. One activity that had not been available in Superior was playing miniature golf.

Not far away from my dormitory on UNL’s East Campus was Cool Crest, located at 220 N. 48th St. It opened in 1950 and remained in operation until 1993, when demand for more dense use of the land it occupied resulted in its closing.

Cool Crest was a mom-and-pop operation that was well conceived and well maintained. It featured a number of holes connected by walkways, which were nicely landscaped with grass and trees along the way. A group of us from Burr Hall decided to get dates and play the course.

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Each hole at Cool Crest had its own mechanical obstacle. Among those featured were an alligator with a mouth that opened and closed. You had to time your putt so that it arrived with the alligator’s mouth open, so the golf ball could go inside and be ejected to the tee for the next hole. If you mistimed it, the alligator’s teeth would knock your ball back at you, and you would have to try again.

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A “par” was assigned for each hole on your scorecard. Playing in a large group, you couldn’t cheat.

The alligator proved particularly difficult for me, and I went “over par.” Another hole featured a dragon that raised and lowered its head. You had to time your putt so that the ball arrived with the dragon’s head down so it could swallow it.

Farther along was a hole that featured an elephant with a trunk that raised and lowered. The ball had to arrive with the trunk down so it would roll inside.

Another hole that gave me difficulty was a Dutch windmill with revolving blades. You had to time your putt so that your ball would not get knocked back at you by a blade. Also featured were a miniature Eiffel Tower and Washington Monument.

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I finished well over par, but we all had a great time and enjoyed a “signature” root beer float at the concession stand.

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Part of Cool Crest transplanted to St. Joe

Some of the Cool Crest mechanical devices migrated to St. Joseph, Missouri, to a miniature golf course built there. Some avid fans of Cool Crest went to St. Joseph to try to recapture the Cool Crest experience, but they reported that the management there was not as customer friendly as Irvin and Caroline Patterson, who had managed Cool Crest in Lincoln. Children were discouraged from playing at the course in St. Joseph. The alligator, dragon, elephant and so on weren’t the same, because what really made Cool Crest special was the Pattersons’ hospitality.

When my children were growing up, I revisited Cool Crest with them, and we had a great experience. My miniature golf skills had not improved, however, and the alligator still gave me fits!

An attempt to bring back another outdoor miniature golf course a bit farther north on 48th Street involved a proposal in 2011 by Madsen Billiards. The idea was a course planned for ECCO Park, located near 48th and Holdrege streets. But the plan was never realized due to financial issues.

Miniature golf beyond Cool Crest

But miniature golf is alive and well in Lincoln today in a slightly different form. Adventure Golf, located at 56th and Old Cheney Road, is an outdoor course that operates only in temperate weather. Another outdoor course is located at Champions Fun Center, 1555 Yolande Ave. (15th and Cornhusker Highway).

An indoor course that opened in 2020, “Prehistoric Putt,” is located at 1919 Cornhusker Highway and is open the year round. It features prehistoric monsters molded in ceramic. As expected, there are obstacles to overcome.

Still in the development stage is a proposal by Sun Valley Lanes and Games at 321 Victory Lane in open outdoor space near the bowling alley. A request for an outdoor liquor license is pending before the Lincoln City Council for that location. Depending on the outcome of the application, a new miniature golf course may be in the works for Lincoln.

MEMORIES OF FAVORITE LINCOLN PLACES

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