Indoor Golf in Chicago Now and Then

From the current issue of “GolfTime Magazine,” a biannual guide to golf in the Chicago area:

Experience Chicago’s Most Accurate and Realistic Indoor Golf Facility!

Experience a new paradigm in year-round indoor golf facilities at Play 18 in downtown Chicago’s Loop.  Located at 17 N. Wabash, just a few blocks from Millennium Park, Play 18 aims to offer golf enthusiasts full game play and practice facilities with sophisticated golf technologies, amenities, membership packages and more – all 12 months of the year, rain or shine!

We all know that golf has a long history. But the folks at Play 18 may not know that indoor golf was played in Chicago and nearby more than 100 years ago.  According to Robert Pruter, a major golf instructional school, O’Neil & Fovargue Indoor Golf School (185 Wabash Ave), opened in 1910.  (Whether 185 was North or South Wabash, if the Indoor Golf School existed today it would be a very short walk from there to Play 18!)

But a student of golf poetry would have found reference to the Indoor Golf School, not in Mr. Pruter’s article, but in a poem called “Winter Golf” by Bert Leston Taylor (1866-1921), the great Chicago Tribune columnist.


“All the benefits of outdoors winter golf
in the tropics, at the Indoor Golf School” – AD

Within the grimy Loop’s environs,
The rubber pill may be addressed,
A man may swing his golfing irons,
And let his fancy do the rest.

The murmur in the street below,
The elevated’s boom and roar,
Will sound–if fancy have it so–
Like surf upon a tropic shore.

The air within the driving stall
Does not suggest a Stilton cheese,
To one whose mind is on the ball
‘Tis fragrant as a tropic breeze.

We, upon whom the spell is laid,
For tropic things care not a whoop,
Imagination’s artful aid
Will bring the tropics to the Loop.

The sun, the breeze, the fields, the rest–
Of them let railway folders sing.
We know, who are by golf obsessed,
The Pill’s the thing! the Pill’s the thing.

With its continued relevance, Taylor’s poem may deserve a spot on the wall at Play 18.


  1. Indoor golf in Chicago during the early 1910’s was huge with many golfing greats participating. In fact during the United States Golf Association’s 1911 annual meeting the ” The Greatest Indoor Golf Match Ever Played” took place at the O’Neil & Fovargue Indoor Golf School.

  2. The murmur in the street below,
    The elevated’s boom and roar,
    Will sound–if fancy have it so–
    Like surf upon a tropic shore.

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