The History of Mini-Golf: How Mini-Golf Evolved?

People have always loved the game of golf. 

However, when some of them wanted to play it in confined spaces, mini-golf was created!  

After the first mini-golf course was introduced in 1916, the sport grew more and more popular and became what we know it as in the present day. 

Wanna know more about the history of mini-golf? Hop into this conclusive guide!  

How Mini-Golf Started? 

The credit for the invention of mini-golf goes to the Scots.

In the late 1800s, Scottish people used to play a putting game on a yard measuring a few meters. 

This could be the very first edition of present-day mini-golf. 

With the passage of time, mini-golf started to evolve, and in the early 20th century, geometry-shaped courses popped up in the scenario. 

Later in the 1920s, people who didn’t have enough space to create mini-golf courses in their backyards started creating roof-top courses, which became very popular in the US.

How Mini-Golf Evolved? 

As mini-golf became popular among common folks, it went through a lot of changes.

Let’s look at the prominent adaptations it took along the path; 

The First Revolution of Mini-Golf

In 1922, Thomas McCullough Fairbairn revolutionized the game by inventing artificial green using cotton seeds, sand, and dye.

As these artificial greens were affordable for most people, mini-golf became accessible everywhere. 

Furthermore, the discovery laid the foundation of modern-day mini-golf. 

Mini-Golf Under the U.S Depression 

Although mini-golf had become popular, it also went through bad circumstances during the U.S. economic depression.

In the late 1930s, almost all mini-golf courses across the country were either closed or demolished by the government. 

Furthermore, people couldn’t afford to build courses on their own, and the boom of mini-golf came to an end. 

However, the craze for playing mini-golf was still there. 

By the early 1940s, the sport was back, and this time, mini-golf courses were furnished with amazing decorations and obstacles like windmills, wishing wells, and castles.

The creation of these fancy obstacles inspired Ralph Lomma to introduce wacky hazards like spirals, double bridges, and baskets.

The Invention of Putt-Putt Golf

In 1953, Don Clayton invented putt-putt golf by designing a course with short holes.

The main focus was to emphasize the putting skills of golfers by allowing them to score holes-in-one. 

Most putt-putt courses were designed for fast play and included only basic obstacles like ramps and angled blocks.

European Origins of Mini-Golf

After flourishing in the U.S. culture, mini-golf started to get famous in Europe.

Germany was the first country to introduce the trend of mini-golf in the continent.

After the foundation of Norman och Norrmans Miniatyrgolf”, a company that manufactured mini-golf courses, the sport started to thrive in Sweden.

Later on, it spread across other countries, and by the 1950s, it was played almost everywhere in Europe.     

Modern Day Mini-Golf

Nowadays, mini-golf has evolved to a massive scale, not only as a sport but as a business too. 

Almost every country has a commercial mini-golf course open for golfers and non-golfers.

With the passage of time, the sport has adapted to new trends like crazy golf, adventure golf, and so on.

In addition to this, the trend of playing indoor mini-golf has also become popular. 

Commercial indoor mini-golf courses featuring fantasy themes and glow-in-the-dark architecture have attracted a lot of audiences.

Furthermore, there’s also a trend of having indoor mini-golf courses in private spaces, homes, and offices.

Mini-Golf as an Official Sport

Besides being played at clubs and private spaces, mini-golf is also played as an official sport. 

Almost every country has its own mini-golf federation, which funds the tournaments on various levels. 

Going back into history, the first national-level tournament of mini-golf, known as the Tom Thumb Tournament, was played in the U.S. in 1930.

The qualification rounds for this tournament were arranged in all 48 states of the country, with the highest cash prize of $2000.

Here is a YouTube video by British Pathé featuring Tom Thumb Golf Course from the old days; 

Represents a classic game of mini-golf! 

In the modern day, the World Minigolf Sport Federation organizes worldwide championships for both amateur and professional level players.

The federation has granted membership to 51 countries with various national-level governing bodies.

Interesting Facts About Mini-Golf

The history of mini-golf holds many interesting facts about the sport that you won’t want to miss. 

Here are some highlighted ones under the spotlight;

  • The Scandinavians invented the glow-in-the-dark mini-golf courses because they have long nights and short days
  • No one knows who actually invented mini-golf however, James well Barber is known for building the first mini-golf course
  • During the Vietnam war, prefabricated mini-golf courses were shipped overseas for the U.S. military. 
  • Every year, National Miniature Golf Day is celebrated on the second Saturday of May in the U.S.
  • Every year, Worldwide Miniature Golf Day is celebrated on September 21

Frequently Asked Questions

When was the first mini-golf course built in America?

The first mini-golf course in America was built in 1961 in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Where did mini-golf originate?

In the early 1800s, the first country to originate mini-golf was Scotland but the sport took official status in 1930 after the Tom Thumb Tournament held in the U.S. 

Who invented glow-in-the-dark mini-golf courses?

The glow-in-the-dark mini-golf courses were invented by the Scandinavian people because of their long nights and short days.

Final Thoughts: History of Mini-Golf

Mini-golf has a rich history rooted more than 200 years back, and it has come a long way to become what it is today.

As you’ve read through this article, I have laid down almost everything about the history of mini-golf.

Additionally, I’ve also added some of the hidden facts about mini-golf that you might not have heard of before.

Hope you learned a ton!

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