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The History of Miniature Golf


The game of miniature golf began in the early 1900’s as “Golf in Miniature”, or, a short game of regulation golf. The courses were built to emulate the regulation courses complete with a country club atmosphere and lush greens. Some of the courses even had caddies! Miniature golf was one of the first sports to be played in the evening – they were strategically built under lights of billboards or other areas lit brightly enough to allow evening play. It became “the thing” to do in the evenings after attending balls and galas. It was common to find these courses open until 4 AM!

With the Stock Market Crash of 1929, regulation miniature golf became too expensive for most people. In spite of this, the desire to play continued to flourish. And so began the game of “Rinkiedink” golf. Obstacle or hazard holes were developed through the use of anything that could be scavenged; wagon wheels, barrels, pipes, etc. Some of these “scavenger ideas” became so popular; they became the models for the obstacle-laden courses that we still see today. Miniature golf was very popular among movie stars and celebrities which helped to spawn new courses throughout the country. Tom Thumb Golf was the first trade name developed and patented for miniature golf. These courses were in demand nationwide and resulted in the 1930’s Miniature Golf Gold Rush. Unbelievably, in the 1930’s, there were approximately 30,000 courses in the country with over 150 rooftop courses in New York City. It was a popular game in America – a leisurely game that could be enjoyed by any gender, at any age, without concern for athletic ability or handicap, much as it is enjoyed today.

During the 1980’s, adventure style courses became popular with exotic names such as Montasia and Adventure Island. Many were built in tourist destinations. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina became the miniature golf capitol of the world. The early 1990’s, however, saw a downfall in the adventure themed course. This downfall is attributed to the fact that themed courses are patronized until the newness wears off.

In the mid 1990’s, the American public was given the opportunity to once again play the game of miniature golf as it was played in the 20’s – courses once again were designed to hold the interest of players while playing a game of Golf in Miniature. The current courses are built to give the players more of a country club experience with lush gardens, meandering streams, waterfalls and real rock formations. The greens are complete with undulations, contours, and water and sand traps. Many of these newer courses are now built around a family entertainment center concept offering food and beverages.

We hope you enjoy your miniature golf experience in the Lake George region or, as we like to call it – the Miniature golf capitol of New York!

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