Who Invented Mini Golf?

Mini golf has been a great choice for decades, offering the skill of golf in a more relaxed format.

But who came up with the idea of mini golf, and how did it evolve into the game we know and love today?

Let’s find out.

The Beginnings of Mini Golf

The concept of mini golf traces back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

However, pinpointing a single inventor of mini golf is difficult, as the game evolved from the practice areas of traditional golf courses into a standalone activity.

The earliest form of mini golf is often associated with the Ladies’ Putting Club of St. Andrews in Scotland, established in 1867.

This putting course was created to offer women a way to enjoy golf, as the sport was deemed unsuitable for ladies at the time.

The idea of a scaled-down version of golf, focusing on putting, began to spread beyond Scotland in the early 20th century.

In the United States, the first mini golf courses were made from simple materials like sand and used natural obstacles rather than the elaborate themes seen today.

These courses were primarily located at private resorts and were designed to offer an accessible version of golf to a broader audience.


Tom Thumb Golf

The mini golf we see today began to take shape in the 1920s, thanks to Garnet Carter, an American inventor and entrepreneur.

In 1927, Carter patented his version of miniature golf, which he called “Tom Thumb Golf.”

Carter’s design included artificial obstacles such as windmills, castles, and tunnels, making the game more entertaining and challenging.

He built the first Tom Thumb course on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee, near the Fairyland Inn, a hotel owned by his wife, Frieda.

The course was an instant success, leading Carter to franchise his idea, which contributed significantly to the mini golf boom in the United States during the late 1920s and early 1930s.


Interesting Facts About Mini Golf

  • The roots of mini golf can be traced back to the Ladies’ Putting Club of St. Andrews, Scotland, established in 1867.

  • In the 1920s, Garnet Carter, an American hotelier, patented a game called “Tom Thumb Golf,” which is often credited as the first commercial mini golf course in the United States.

  • The late 1920s witnessed a mini golf boom in the United States, partly fueled by the Great Depression.

  • During the mini golf craze of the 1920s and 1930s, space in urban areas like New York City was at a premium, so entrepreneurs got creative, constructing mini golf courses on city rooftops.

  • In the 1950s and 1960s, Al and Ralph Lomma played a significant role in reviving mini golf’s popularity in the United States, introducing obstacles that became staples of mini golf courses.

  • The competitive side of mini golf is governed by the World Mini Golf Sport Federation (WMF), which was established in 1997.

  • While mini golf is not an Olympic sport, the WMF has made efforts to have it recognised by the International Olympic Committee.

  • The longest mini golf hole in the world is located at the Around the World Miniature Golf course in Lake George, New York. It measures a staggering 700 feet in length.



From its humble beginnings as a putting game for women in Scotland to the elaborate and themed courses of today, mini golf has evolved into a hugely popular activity for all.

Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a casual player, mini golf offers a fun and accessible way to enjoy the challenge of golf on a smaller scale.

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