An Insight Into the Early History of Mini Golf Courses

Noduffershere/ September 26, 2021/ Gaming History, Sports & Benefits/ 0 comments

While enjoying the rounds of mini-golf with your family, you might’ve wondered how it all started. Playing miniature golf is an activity that individuals of all ages love to indulge in. When you think about mini golf, you begin to imagine many things. There are some crazy obstacles, the green carpet, and bright colours. All of them create an atmosphere of fun, which appeals to everyone. 

However, the question of how it all began might pop up in the minds of many. They might also wonder how it progressed over the years. So, we’ve made an attempt here to delve into the history of this exciting activity.

The first miniature golf course

We must give all the credit to the Ladies’ Putting Club of St. Andrews. It is thought to be the first miniature golf course in the world. This mini-golf course was established in Scotland in 1867 for female golf players. In those times, women raising a club back and above the shoulders was a violation of social norms. This resulted in the creation of the St. Andrews Ladies Golf Club. 

It eventually became the Ladies’ Putting Club of St. Andrews. Although the course didn’t have those outlandish obstacles, it’s considered prestigious even today. The early mini-golf courses were of three types. One was the pitch and putt, the second was regulation par-3, and the third was the executive course. 

Games were played usually with a putter and short driver during those times. The length of these courses ranged between 50 and 100 yards.

The early 20th century

Miniature golf had reached the United States by the early 20th century. In 1916, a mini-golf course was created by James Barber in Pinehurst, North Carolina. This course featured fountains, walkways, and planters. During the 1920s, the design of miniature golf courses underwent some changes. It broke away from the earlier traditions of design. 

Mini golf courses became more compact, geometric, and efficient while following a classical design. The history of miniature golf took an important turn with the invention of green turf. It was developed in 1922 by Thomas McCulloch Fairborn. His patented design included hulls of crushed cottonseed, which was mixed with green dye and rolled over sand foundation. 

Mini golf courses soon moved to urban areas from the countryside. By the end of the 1920s, there were more than 150 rooftop mini-golf courses in New York City. 

Mini golf courses during the Great Depression

Many individuals considered the regulation mini-golf courses too expensive during the Great Depression. As a result, the ‘Rinky Dink’ golf courses popped up at several places. They featured obstacles that were made out of everyday objects, including tires, cans, pipes, and washtubs. The increasing popularity of such courses led the miniature golf course owners to adopt the zany obstacles. 

The first mini-golf franchise was created by Garnet Carter in 1929. Thus began the Tom Thumb Golf empire. In the years that followed, it witnessed tremendous growth. Tom Thumb Golf accounted for 25% of all mini golf courses in the United States. What made Carter’s course stand out from the rest was that it utilized hollowed-out tree trunks and gnomes.

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