Tue Nov 12 2019
The history of mini golf began when a very small golf fan grew jealous of his inability to hold a full-sized club. And so he made it smaller, much smaller. The golf ball was roughly the size of a penny, and the club a small metal matchstick.
Ok, that may not be the exact truth. But we thought we would start with that to make the truth seem more normal because the real history of mini golf is very silly indeed! So, let’s get down to answering the serious questions. When and where was mini golf invented?
Well in the late 19th century in Scotland, it wasn’t deemed proper for ladies to swing past their shoulders. Therefore, an alternate set of courses were made, so such ‘delicate creatures’ could play the round without affronting the rest of the townsfolk with such outlandish behaviour. See, we knew we needed to ease you into it.
However, what wasn’t silly were the courses themselves. At this point, designs were drab and lacked any of the imagination, excitement and style which has captured imaginations for the last century. Thankfully, that creative spark still inspires, leading to the type of innovation you can expect from Puttshack today.
The next major landmark came with the mention of something called a “golfstacle” in the 1916 newspaper, The Illustrated London News. The pictures were basic, but the idea of creating an obstacle course on a miniature track offers an early essence of what mini golf was to become.
The game really got into the swing of things with the mass production of a version called the Thistle Dhu, which made its way around North Carolina. Just as importantly, they finally spruced the game up a bit with features like fountains and gardens to create a more fun and welcoming environment.
It caught on enough to inspire Garnet Carter to patent his version of mini golf in 1927. The course was actually built to attract people to his hotel, and the courses were said to have been designed by his wife. This was a very special time for mini golf, with the game gaining traction across Europe for the first time. The invention of artificial grass the following decade made this playing surface a staple of courses.
And then the Great Depression hit and all the golf courses in the United States got destroyed. It slowed things down elsewhere too, although wooden iterations of the game did continue to pop up around Sweden. Actually Sweden deserves an extra special mention here, as they were ahead of the curve in many respects. For instance, the Swedish Minigolf Federation was formed in 1937, making it the oldest organisation for the sport.
Speaking of which, it was time for Sweden to once again lead the way with the National Swedish Championships. These began at the end of the decade and transformed mini golf from a bit of fun to something that could be considered a serious discipline and a competitive sport.
Around this time, the Great Depression was also ending, which meant a resurgence in popularity for mini golf. In 1938, two brothers from New York, Joseph and Robert Taylor not only helped bring the game back to the public’s attention, but did so with what was considered at the time, to be outlandish obstacles. The most famous of these is the iconic windmill. This was a huge hit, and the Taylors found their version of mini golf popping up all around the country. They even had courses shipped overseas to be enjoyed by the US military.
Further advancements came in the 1950s, when Lomma Golf Inc added to the Taylors’ obstacles with a whole host of spinning, revolving and moving features set around themes, adding more excitement and challenges. With the introduction of felt to courses the game could be enjoyed outdoors all year round in any climate.
As interesting as the history of miniature golf is, we can’t help but notice the most significant advancements in the game came over half a century ago. Well, we think it’s about time we write a new chapter and take it to the next level.
When we ask ourselves why mini golf was invented and why people pushed it to evolve, it’s the same reason we work so hard on providing the best possible experience at Puttshack. Put simply, we want people to have more fun!
We’re doing this through cutting-edge technology which really brings this game into the modern world, while still maintaining the essence of the ideas behind it. And unlike our tall tale about the small man who was too tiny to hold a golf club, that’s no joke.
Experience a whole new way of mini golf at Puttshack.