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The Strange History of Miniature Golf

The Strange History of Miniature Golf

We did a little digging around and created a list of facts that tell the history of the great sport of miniature golf. enjoy.

The Ladies' Putting Club in St. Andrews, Scotland is considered the very first miniature golf course. It was built in 1867 for practical purposes as it was considered unacceptable for women to take the club back past their shoulder during this time period.

Holes were originally 50 to 100 yards long.

In 1916, James Barber designed Thistle Dhu, considered America's quintessential miniature golf course. It was designed with the Tuileries Garden at the Louvre in mind. Miniature golf courses were very artistic at this time and were built for their natural beauty more than sport.

In 1926 the fad of building miniature golf courses on Manhattan roof tops was in full swing and by the end of that year there were nearly 150 successful courses.

During the Great Depression, miniature golf was considered "big business" and one of the few businesses that could be successful. Over 25,000 courses were built during this period. It became the most popular entertainment for people of all ages.

There were stories of 12-year-old boys, during the Great Depression, that for an initial investment of 90 cents would set up a miniature golf course in a vacant lot and turn a 1000% profit over the weekend.

Six thousand Tom Thumb courses were built during the depression. They were the first "brand" of miniature golf and the beginning of the end for artistic courses. It was said a Tom Thumb courses could be built and open to the public in six days.

Tom Thumb courses were considered sterile minimalist and all had very similar designs. The key attribute to this type of course was that you always had a chance to get a hole-in-one. A classic example of a sterile minimalist course hazard is the Loop-The-Loop.

During the second half of the 20th century "crazy golf" took over. Gone were the days of flat land covered in fairly easy holes. Giant monuments such as windmills, clowns, and castle were taking over to attract as many drive-by customers as possible.

By the 1990's corporate America had taken over. It was no longer viable to just build a miniature golf course alone. Competition brought on the need for entertainment complexes full of go-karts, arcades, and amusement rides to bring customers in.
 






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