Many Facts About Mini Golf

Posted by Phil Rodgers in Things to Do

There's no doubt about it: Miniature golf is a must-do activity when you're on vacation. And it seems like no matter which vacation spot in the country you visit, there's always a mini golf course nearby. You'll find them in big cities, and you'll find them in some of the most remote, podunk places you can imagine.

Play mini golf among huge dinosaurs.

But have you ever wondered how miniature golf came about in the first place? Well, we all know that the Scots invented the game of golf as well as the putting component. In fact, Scottish golfers use to simply play games where they did nothing but putt, and by the early 1900s, people were building putting courses on rooftops (that's a concept near and dear to our hearts).

However, World War I and the Great Depression changes the miniature golf game. Folks didn't have enough money to build quality courses, so they started building their courses out of inexpensive, locally available materials found on the streets. This led to courses featuring unique obstacles and designs. This concept caught on like wildfire.

In 1953, a man named Don Clayton added a twist to mini golf courses by designing short holes that allowed skilled players to sink holes in one. This included adding metal rails for banking (see our information below about Putt-Putt Golf). Other organizations and designers piled on with mechanical obstacles like rotating ramps, animated hazards, flashing lights and windmills.

Here a few fun, digestible facts about miniature golf:

  • Nobody knows who the inventor of mini golf is, but James Well Barber is documented as having created one the first mini-golf course in his backyard.
  • Another course rumored to have been the first belonged to the Ladies' Putting Club of St. Andrews in Scotland, which is adjacent to the home of the British Open.
  • The first recorded game of mini golf was in Scotland.
  • Glow-in-the-dark mini golf was invented in Scandinavia because of its long nights and short days.
  • September 21 is Worldwide Miniature Golf Day, and National Mini Golf Day falls on the second Saturday in May each year.

Oh, and did you know that putt-putt golf is not a generic term? It's actually a licensed business trademark belonging only to the Putt-Putt company. Their courses are known for their basic turf layouts and orange side rails. Putt-Putt golf courses were founded in 1954 by Don Clayton (see above), and today, the businesses are known as Putt-Putt Fun Centers. Here are a few distinctions between miniature golf and Putt-Putt golf.

  • Putt-Putt holes are all par 2. Other mini golf courses may have pars ranging from 2 to 6 or even higher.
  • Putt-Putt holes are short and designed for holes in one, if the player is skilled enough to bank the ball off the side rails in the right place. With generic mini golf courses, there are often elements of luck in play.
  • Putt-Putt courses don't traditionally have strong themes. Their look is spartan compared to other mini golf courses, where you're likely to see features like manmade mountains, caves, waterfalls, volcanoes and more.
  • Putt-Putt courses are more suitable for competition events, because they rely more on skill than luck.

Next time you come to the Smokies, get ready for lots of miniature golf action. As a matter of fact, we have miniature golf now at Goats on the Roof! Next time you swing by, pick out your putter and your colored golf ball and try your hand at our Jurassic Tymes Mini Golf course. You'll have a lot of fun and meet a few cool dinos along the way.

Among our other recommended courses are Fantasy Golf in Pigeon Forge, where features like castles, serpents and other fantastical elements will keep you captivated across its two 18-hole courses. Another place to check out is Fast Tracks, also in Pigeon Forge. It's known mainly for its go-carts, but there's also a fun miniature golf course there.


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