The miniature golf course, driving range and baseball and softball batting cages have been fixtures at Burholme Park for decades.
Last week, a number of public officials reminisced as Burholme Golf & Family Entertainment held a grand-reopening celebration.
Mike DeBerardinis, commissioner of the city Department of Parks and Recreation, spoke of bringing his wife and four kids from Fishtown for fun times.
State Rep. Kevin Boyle, an Olney native, said his parents brought him and his older brother Brendan to the facility when they were younger.
Longtime Burholme resident Al Taubenberger, president of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and Boyle’s re-election opponent, visited the place with his parents, took his kids there and is looking forward to soon bringing granddaughter Ava for a game of miniature golf.
And state Rep. John Sabatina Jr. said his dad used to bring him to the batting cages, and the lifelong Rhawnhurst resident later brought dates there to “beat me at mini-golf.”
“It’s a neighborhood landmark,” Sabatina said.
On July 18, the landmark showed off its new look. Mayor Michael Nutter was scheduled to appear, but he was a late scratch due to first lady Michelle Obama’s appearance in North Philadelphia the same day.
Still, the mayor’s absence did not dampen the enthusiasm on a sun-drenched afternoon.
Ken Sim and John Kirincich started pursuing a lease deal with the city last October and officially took over management in March.
“I’m an avid golfer, and I knew there was an opportunity here,” Sim said.
The site, at 401 Cottman Ave., was closed from Dec. 31 to April 19, but is now open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Crowds have been growing, though the intense heat has kept some people away.
“We’ll try our best to make it the best facility in the area,” Sim said.
Sim and his 9-year-old son Noah cut the ribbon during the ceremony. He and Kirincich met two years ago while working on a business project in Georgia and have spent almost $850,000 in capital improvements and equipment on this venture.
There were challenges in the beginning. Only two of the six batting cages worked. The masonry was cracked. The interior was drab. The fountains didn’t work. And the grounds were littered with trash.
“We took enough debris, I kid you not, to fill this room twice over,” Kirincich said as he stood in the spacious, full-service snack bar/cafe area.
The parks and recreation department owns the property, and the business is operated in partnership with the Fairmount Park Conservancy, which receives a portion of the proceeds.
The miniature golf course has new landscaping and seven working fountains and waterfalls. The batting cages have new machines of different speeds. And the driving range has new target greens, 63 renovated stalls (some covered) and a display of distances to each green.
Golf lessons are available, and there’s enough room for birthday parties and other celebrations.
In the fall, a sit-down family restaurant will open.
DiBerardinis described the facility as a “positive place for young people to be.”
“Kids can come to learn baseball and golf,” said Kirincich, whose background is working on political campaigns and serving in government.
The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia, a decade-old organization, has introduced golf to 5,800 area youth, and is “working our way to ten-thousand,” said executive director John MacDonald. The group will work with youngsters at Burholme and is looking forward to using the driving range.
“It’s really a life-skills program where we’re basically building character education,” MacDonald said.
Taubenberger presented a plaque to Sim and Kirincich, new members of the local Chamber of Commerce.
“We are delighted that you are in this neighborhood,” he told them.
The new operators are welcoming people of all ages to visit the complex.
“We’re trying to make it a full family entertainment center,” Sim said. ••EndFragment