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The Interesting History of Mini Golf

The Interesting History of Mini Golf

Putt Putt is one kooky sport, date location and all round fun time.  So it only makes sense that the interesting history of miniature golf courses is just as out there!  In its time since invention in the late 19th century, mini golf has sure made an impression on the world.  But how did it all begin?

Who Invented Mini Golf Courses?

We owe the Scots a good old-fashioned putter salute for inventing the game in the beginning.  While the exact person who invented mini golf is not known, back in 1867 The Ladies’ Putting Club of St. Andrews was created.  This has been dubbed as the first known putting club in history.  This members-only green for women golfers was a rebellion against society’s belief at the time that ladies ‘taking the club back past their shoulder’ was particularly uncouth.  But girls just wanna have fun and the rules weren’t going to stop them!

What Did The First Mini Golf Courses Look Like?

Let’s get this straight, the first mini golf course wasn’t a colourful wonderland with motorised obstacles and loop de loops.  It was more like a patch of grass with short distances between the putter’s starting point and the hole. 

It wasn’t until 1916 when James Barber designed a mini golf course in North Carolina with a few bells and whistles that the novelty began.  Picture this, there were fountains, gardens and walkway patterns - a real showstopper for players!  This was a particularly defining moment in the interesting history of mini golf.

Then in 1926, rooftop putting became a thing (um, best idea ever!).  A couple of clever lads in New York decided a skyscraper rooftop was the perfect place to play a game of mini golf.  It wasn’t long before others caught on and in the following four years, almost 150 rooftop putting courses had been created in New York.

Stepping Things Up A Notch

With the Great Depression came a lot of changes in the world - even mini golf as people knew it had become something new and different!  Long gone were the well-manicured gardens and maintained courses.  But the mini golf lovers at the time weren’t going to stop playing that easily!  They began collecting up old tyres, pipes, barrels and rain gutters.  These became additions to the game and the kooky new extras used as obstacles.

Word caught on and the craze spread.  Then suddenly, a man by the name of Tom Thumb popped up and started designing the craziest courses people had ever seen.  His courses were a mix of tricky shots, hills, small obstacles and zany colours.  They were a real crowd favourite and by the end of the 1940s, 4 million people in the US were playing the game!

The Interesting History of Putt Putt Takes A Twist

Don Clayton, the founder of ‘Putt Putt Golf Courses’ wanted to shake things up a bit, so in 1953, he designed short holes so that a hole-in-one could be scored on each hole with a skillful putt, often through the use of banking the metal rails for accurate rebounds. He started advertising putt putt as a serious sport with tournaments played around the world offering huge prize money. Everyone was thrilled with this unexpected twist!

When Lomma Lomma Enterprises, Inc. entered the scene only a few years later, they launched a series of wacky mechanical obstacles.  Animated hazards, rotating ramps, windmills and flashing lights - you name it, they made it!  Not only were these obstacles fantastic to look at, they also added an extra element needed for timed accuracy. 

Putt Putt Golf Today

Thanks to these legends early on in putt putt’s history, today phenomenal mini golf courses are found globally!  As we creep up to our 50th birthday here at Putt Putt Mermaid Beach, we look forward to continuing the fun for decades to come!


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