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Dive into Mini Golf History!

A fascinating journey through time, and discover the origins, evolution, and key moments that shaped this popular pastime.

Let’s tee off!

Mini Golf History Summary

  • โณ Origins and Evolution: Mini Golf traces its roots back to the late 19th century, emerging as a fun, accessible alternative to traditional golf. Key designs like Thistle Dhu and Tom Thumb Golf revolutionized the game, giving it the whimsical characteristics we love today.
  • ๐Ÿš€ Rise to Prominence: The golden age of Mini Golf began in the 1920s, with hundreds of courses springing up across the United States. The game’s popularity surged thanks to its affordability, creative course designs, and appeal to people of all ages and skill levels.
  • ๐Ÿฅ‡ Noteworthy Growth and Adaptation: As Mini Golf evolved, new materials, themes, and technological innovations were introduced, keeping the game fresh and engaging. Worldwide expansion and adaptability to changing trends have ensured Mini Golf’s enduring popularity and relevance in the world of entertainment.

Mini Golf History Timeline


Mini Golf’s origins can be traced back to 1867 in St. Andrews, Scotland, when Ladies’ Putting Club was established. This club provided a less strenuous and socially acceptable alternative for women to play traditional golf. The putting courses with their shorter holes and greens laid the foundation for miniature golf.


Thistle Dhu (“This’ll do”), the first known Mini Golf course in the United States, was created in Pinehurst, North Carolina. James Barber designed the 18-hole course which featured geometric shapes and natural putting greens, paving the way for future Mini Golf courses.


The 1920s saw a rapid rise in Mini Golf’s popularity, with hundreds of courses sprouting up along the East Coast of the United States. Tom Thumb Golf, created by Garnet and Frieda Carter in 1926, was particularly influential in shaping distinctive course designs. Their course in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, prominently featured artificial putting surfaces, rocks, and other obstacles.

During this period, the game was also dubbed โ€œRinkiedink Golfโ€ and โ€œGarden Golfโ€, appealing to a wide audience by offering a recreational activity that required minimal skill.


Mini Golf’s golden age faded due to the Great Depression and the introduction of the amusement tax. As a result, many courses closed down or shifted to unconventional locations like rooftops to avoid taxation. However, the game’s popularity persisted as it became a source of affordable family entertainment during those difficult times.

1950s – 1960s

The post-war era saw the resurgence of Mini Golf, with courses embracing kitschy themes, bright colors, and imaginative obstacles, such as giant windmills and dragons. The introduction of asphalt and concrete playing surfaces enabled course designers to create durable, long-lasting structures and landscaping.

In Europe, the first standardized Mini Golf courses began to emerge in Sweden, developed by the Swedish National Committee for Mini Golf in 1953. The concept rapidly spread across the continent, adopting unique characteristics varying by region.

1970s – 1980s

Course designers continually pushed the limits of creativity with elaborate themes and technologies throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Neon, glow-in-the-dark courses began to appear, emphasizing atmosphere and visual appeal. Video games and arcade culture influenced course designs, incorporating electronic elements and a more competitive edge.


Mini Golf’s international expansion continued, with courses being constructed in countries like Australia, Canada, and Japan. Designs focused on replicating famous landmarks and incorporating cultural elements, from Sydney’s Harbour Bridge to Japanese temples.

Miniature Golf Day, celebrated annually on September 21st, was also established, further strengthening the game’s place in popular culture.

2000s – Present

Advancements in technology have modernized Mini Golf in recent years, including computerized scoring systems, motion-activated obstacles, and augmented reality elements. The game has also found its way into the digital realm with mobile apps and console games, bringing the world of Mini Golf to a wider audience.

From its humble beginnings in St. Andrews to its current multimedia presence, Mini Golf remains a beloved pastime for all ages, skill levels, and locales.


Who invented Mini Golf?

Garnet Carter invented Mini Golf in 1926. His initial concept, known as “Tom Thumb Golf,” was the precursor to todayโ€™s Mini Golf.

How did Mini Golf become so popular?

Mini Golf’s popularity grew amidst the 1930s โ€œcrazeโ€ in the United States. Its accessibility, affordability, and fun gameplay made it popular among all ages.

Where did Mini Golf originate?

Mini Golf originated in the United States. Garnet Carter created the first course in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1926.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning โ€˜realโ€™ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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