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Mini Golf

Mini golf is more than a time-filler while on vacation. With international tournaments, professional organizations and pro players, mini golf is as serious a sport as traditional golf. This article will give you the information necessary to get more enjoyment out of your next mini golf game or join the growing number of pro mini golf players.

What is Mini Golf?

   When most people think of mini golf, they picture windmills, ramps and fantasy characters lining an Astro Turf putting course. Those courses are known as adventure golf or crazy golf, not mini golf (British Minigolf Association). Professional mini golf is played on certified courses that use obstacles designed to challenge golfers skills. They do not use whimsical obstacles that are meant to entertain. Besides the challenging obstacles, mini golf courses have raised borders that can be used to deflect shots, and the ground is either felt or concrete (British Minigolf Association). Mini golf is played just like adventure or crazy golf, where the goal is to hit the ball into the hole in as few strokes as possible. The winner is the golfer who can complete the course in the fewest number of strokes.

Mini Golf History

    The origins of mini golf can be traced back to St. Andrews Ladies' Golf Club of Scotland, founded in 1867 (St. Andrews Links). At that time, women were restricted from playing golf like men. So a separate short course, which was a putting course, was built on a patch of grass (St. Andrews Links). As time progressed, so did the sport of mini golf. During the 1920s and 30s, raised borders became common on most courses and pressed cottonseed hulls were use as the putting surface, which made the ground smoother and more even ("Miniature Golf History").
Photo Credit: Sean Locke
The game of mini golf got its great break, ironically, because of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Because traditional golf became too expensive to play and golf courses had trouble staying open, people turned to mini golf ("Miniature Golf History"). In the 1930s there were about 50,000 mini golf courses, and about 4 million Americans were playing mini golf each year ("Miniature Golf History"). During the booming popularity of the 30s, the first organized mini golf tournament was played. The first National Tom Thumb Open Miniature Golf Tournament was held on Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Tennessee ("Miniature Golf History"). Over 200 players from across the US competed for $10,000.
    The next big change occurred with the invention of Astro Turf in the 1960s ("Miniature Golf History"). Then in the 1980 and 90s some mini golf courses began to evolve into family entertainment centers that had fantasy themes and a wide range of family activities. However, there still remained mini golfers who wanted competitive courses, which kept the demand for mini golf alive while adventure and crazy golf flourished ("Miniature Golf History").

Mini Golf Equipment

   Mini golf requires only a putter and a golf ball. In competition, players can use any golf ball on the USGA Approved Ball list and must only use one ball per hole ("USPMGA Player Rules"). However, they can use as many different balls, with different attributes, throughout a round. As for clubs, players can use any putter, whether metal or special mini golf putter with a rubber club head ("USPMGA Player Rules). If you just want to play for fun, mini golf courses will have equipment you can use.

Mini Golf Competitions

    Mini golf competitions take place on local, regional, state, national and international levels ("Home Page"). To become a mini golf professional and compete in the biggest tournaments, you should become a registered member of the US ProMinigolf Player and Course Association. However, there are many mini golf tournaments open to the public ("Tour Events: Schedule"). Also, there are tournaments for juniors and seniors, so each age group can play with those in their skill level. No matter your age or ability level, if you want to compete in mini golf, you can find a tournament.

    Mini golf can be much more than a date idea or something to do with the family. With international competitions, thousands of players and professional organizations, mini golf is a serious competitive sport. If you are looking for some fun or a new outlet for your competitive streak, check out mini golf in your area.


British Minigolf Association. "What is Minigolf?" (accessed August 18, 2006).

St. Andrews Links. "History: Ladies' Putting Club of St Andrews." (accessed August 18, 2006).

US Pro Mini Golf Tour. "Miniature Golf History." (accessed August 18, 2006).

US Pro Mini Golf Tour. "USPMGA Player Rules." (accessed August 18, 2006).

US Pro Mini Golf Tour. "Home Page." (accessed August 18, 2006).

US Pro Mini Golf Tour. "Tour Events: Schedule." (accessed August 18, 2006).