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The First US Mini Golf Course Opened In 1916 At Pinehurst, NC. Named “Thistle Dhu” Pronounced ‘This’ll Do’

Annually the second Saturday in May recognizes National Miniature Golf Day. This day is separate from Miniature Golf Day, which is celebrated worldwide on September 21.

  • While still played with a series of 9 or 18 holes, miniature golf courses are shorter, usually themed, and have a variety of obstacles that add to the difficulty of the game.
  • Miniature golf is one game with many names. Mini golf, crazy golf, putt-putt, goofy golf, shorties, midget golf and mini putt are just a few examples of its numerous nicknames.
  • Some of the more challenging miniature golf courses have waterfalls, caverns, and castles with drawbridges as part of their obstacle course.
  • The Illustrated London News had mention of the earliest documented minigolf course in its June 8, 1912, edition.
  • The first recognizable miniature golf course in the U.S. opened in 1916 at Pinehurst, North Carolina. Called Thistle Dhu, and pronounced as ‘this’ll do’, the name was a play on words, indicating that this will do in place of a full-sized golf course!
  • The oldest known mini golf course in the world, the Ladies’ Putting Club of St. Andrews, is in Scotland. It sits right next to the legendary St. Andrews Golf Course, a regular site of the British Open.
  • The Ladies’ Putting Club of St. Andrews was formed in 1867 as a members-only green for women golfers. Of course, the club was a result of the conventions of the day that decreed it improper for a lady to “take the club back past their shoulder.”
  • Miniature golf gained such immense popularity in the US, that by the late 1920s, there were around 150 mini golf courses in New York City alone. Many of these were on the rooftops of the city’s iconic, high-rise buildings. Most of them closed after the Great Depression.
  • Another early example of smaller, putting-only golf courses with amusing obstacles came from the British Isles. In 1910, an attraction called Golfstacle opened.
  • The first public miniature golf course (Tom Thumb Golf) soon hit America thanks to one Garnet Carter of Tennessee, who built the course to attract customers to his hotel.
  • In the U.S. in the early 20th century, golf courses, putting greens, and smaller, “par-3”-style golf courses were open primarily to the wealthy. That led to the first wave of miniature golf courses. The fun obstacles and hindrances to putt around weren’t quite yet custom-constructed mini Eiffel Towers and things like that, but mostly old tires, pipes, and barrels.
  • The official governing body of the sport – yes, there really is one – prefers the name “minigolf,” as in the World Minigolf Sport Federation. It has 40,000 registered players representing more than three dozen countries.
  • Parts of Scandinavia and Finland are so far north that it gets dark and stays dark for large portions of the day and year. Result: glow-in-the-dark miniature golf courses are popular in those locations.
  • In 1955, Al Lomma and Lomma Enterprises, Inc. ushered in a new era of mechanically animated hazards like rotating windmill blades, twisting statues, and moving ramps, and the trend remained for decades.
  • The world record score for miniature golf is 18 strokes on 18 holes. Over 1,000 golfers accomplished this feat.
  • In the United States, there are over 1,000 miniature golf courses nationwide.

Sources:

National Day Calendar

Golfland

Portable Press

Mental Floss

Sports Feel Good Stories

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