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Miniature golf

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Miniature golf
Highest governing bodyWorld Minigolf Sport Federation
First playedSouth Africa 1910s
Mixed-sexNo, except mixed multiples
TypeClub sport
Equipmentputter, ball, artificial course
Country or regionEurope, North America, Japan
World Games1989 (invitational)

Miniature golf, also known as minigolf, mini-putt, goofy golf, crazy golf, or putt-putt, is an offshoot of the sport of golf focusing solely on the putting aspect of its parent game. The aim of the game is to score the lowest number of points. It is played on courses consisting of a series of holes (usually a multiple of 9) similar to its parent, but characterized by their short length (usually within 10 yards from tee to cup).

The game uses artificial putting surfaces (such as carpet, artificial turf, or concrete), a geometric layout often requiring non-traditional putting lines such as bank shots, and artificial obstacles such as tunnels, tubes, ramps, moving obstacles such as windmills, and walls of concrete, metal, or fiberglass. When miniature golf retains many of these characteristics but without the use of any props or obstacles, it is purely a mini version of its parent game.

Boys playing miniature golf in Alameda County, California, 1963
Boys playing miniature golf in Alameda County, California, 1963
A miniature golf course in Cape May, New Jersey
A miniature golf course in Cape May, New Jersey


While the international sports organization World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF)[1] prefers to use the name "minigolf", the general public in different countries has also many other names for the game: miniature golf, mini-golf, midget golf, goofy golf, shorties, extreme golf, crazy golf, adventure golf, mini-putt, putter golf and so on. The name Putt-Putt is the trademark of an American company[2] that builds and franchises miniature golf courses in addition to other family-oriented entertainment, and the term "putt-putt" is sometimes used colloquially to refer to the game itself. The term "minigolf" was formerly a registered trademark of a Swedish company that built its own patented type of minigolf courses.


Geometrically-shaped minigolf courses made of artificial materials (carpet) began to emerge during the early 20th century. The earliest documented mention of such a course is in the 8 June 1912 edition of The Illustrated London News, which introduces a minigolf course called Gofstacle.[3]

The first standardized minigolf courses to enter commercial mass-production were the Thistle Dhu ("This'll Do") course 1916 in Pinehurst, North Carolina, and the 1927 Tom Thumb patent of Garnet Carter from Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. Thomas McCullough Fairbairn, a golf fanatic, revolutionized the game in 1922 with his formulation of a suitable artificial green—a mixture of cottonseed hulls, sand, oil, and dye. With this discovery, miniature golf became accessible everywhere; by the late 1920s there were over 150 rooftop courses in New York City alone and tens of thousands across the United States.[4] This American minigolf boom of early 20th century came to an end during the economic depression in the late 1930s. Nearly all minigolf courses in the United States were closed and demolished before the end of the 1930s.[5] A rare surviving example from this period is the Parkside Whispering Pines Miniature Golf Course located near Rochester, New York, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.[6]

The first miniature golf course in Canada was at the Maples Inn in Pointe-Claire, Quebec. The "Mapes" was constructed as a summer home in the 1890s but was renovated into a club in 1902, opened to the public in 1914, and had a miniature golf course in 1930. The popular nightspot burned in 1985. (See: West Island Chronicle, 29 June 2008.)

European origins

Minigolf Ascona, opened in 1954
Minigolf Ascona, opened in 1954

One of the first documented minigolf courses in mainland Europe was built in 1926 by Fr. Schröder in Hamburg, Germany. Mr. Schröder had been inspired by his visit to the United States, where he had seen minigolf courses spreading across the country.[7]

In 1930 Edwin O. Norrman and Eskil Norman returned to Sweden from the United States, where they had stayed for several years and witnessed the golden days of the American minigolf boom. In 1931 they founded the company "Norman och Norrmans Miniatyrgolf" and began manufacturing standardized minigolf courses for the Swedish market. During the following years they spread this new leisure activity across Sweden, by installing minigolf courses in public parks and other suitable locations.[7]

Swedish minigolf courses typically had a rectangular wooden frame surrounding the playing area made of tennis field sand[8] (while the American manufacturers used newly developed and patented felt as the surface of their minigolf courses). Felt did not become popular as a surface material in Sweden until in the mid-1960s—but since then it has become practically the only surface material used in Scandinavia and Britain, due to its favorable playing qualities in wet weather. (Minigolf courses with a felt surface can be played in rainy weather, because water soaks through the felt into the ground. The other commonly used surface materials, beton and eternite, cannot be used in rainy weather, because the rainwater pools on them, stopping the ball from rolling.)

The Swedish Minigolf Federation (Svenska Bangolfförbundet)[9] was founded in 1937, being the oldest minigolf sport organization in the world. National Swedish championships in minigolf have been played yearly since 1939.[10] In other countries minigolf sport federations were not founded until the late 1950s, due to the post-war economical depression.

In 1954, the minigolf course in Ascona (Switzerland) opened, the oldest course worldwide following the norms of Paul Bongni.

Competitive games

The earliest documented minigolf competitions were played in the United States. The first National Tom Thumb Open minigolf tournament was arranged in 1930, with a total cash purse $10,000 (the top prize being $2,000). Qualification play-offs were played in all of the 48 states, and the final competition on Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Tennessee, attracted over 200 players representing thirty states.[11] After the Depression ten years later, minigolf died out as a competition sport in America, and has begun to recover only during the most recent decades. The American minigolf sport boom of the 1930s inspired many European countries, and the sport of minigolf lived on in Europe even after the American game fell into Depression.

Post-depression U.S.

Golf layout from the Evening Express, Los Angeles, California, 1930
Golf layout from the Evening Express, Los Angeles, California, 1930
Golfer golfing at Monster Mini Golf, an indoor glow in the dark mini golf course
Golfer golfing at Monster Mini Golf, an indoor glow in the dark mini golf course

In 1938 Joseph and Robert Taylor from Binghamton, New York, started building and operating their own miniature golf courses. These courses differed from the ones in the late 20s and early 30s; they were no longer just rolls, banks, and curves, with an occasional pipe thrown in. Their courses not only had landscaping, but also obstacles, including windmills, castles, and wishing wells.

Impressed by the quality of the courses, many customers asked if the Taylors would build a course for them. By the early 1940s, Joe and Bob formed Taylor Brothers, and were in the business of building miniature golf courses and supplying obstacles to the industry. During both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, many a G.I. played on a Taylor Brothers prefabricated course that the U.S. Military had contracted to be built and shipped overseas. In the 1950s, Don Clayton invented the Putt-Putt brand with a focus on treating minigolf seriously, emphasizing skill and player improvement. Most of the Putt Putt routes were 2-par holes involving ramps or angled blocks that could be mastered in one go through practice.[12]

By the late 50s almost all supply catalogs carried Taylor Brother's obstacles. In 1961 Bob Taylor, Don Clayton of Putt-Putt, and Frank Abramoff of Arnold Palmer Miniature Golf organized the first miniature golf association known as NAPCOMS (or the "National Association of Putting Course Operators, Manufacturers, and Suppliers"). Their first meeting was held in New York City. Though this organization only lasted a few years it was the first attempt to bring miniature golf operators together to promote miniature golf.

In 1955, Lomma Golf, Inc., founded by Al Lomma and his brother Ralph Lomma, led the revival of wacky, animated trick hazards. These hazards required both accurately aimed shots and split-second timing to avoid spinning windmill blades, revolving statuary, and other careening obstacles.[citation needed]

The book Tilting At Windmills (How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Sport) by Andy Miller tells the story of the formerly sports-hating author attempting to change by competing in miniature golf, including events in Denmark and Latvia.

In the United States, National Miniature Golf Day is held yearly on the second Saturday of May. The event had its inaugural celebration on 12 May 2007, and was officially recognized and published in 2008's edition of Chase's Calendar of Events.

Other countries

By the 1950s the American Putt-Putt company was exporting their minigolf courses to South Africa, Australia, Japan, Korea, India, Iran, Italy, Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, and the Eastern Bloc.[13]

Governing body

The sport of miniature golf is governed internationally by the World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF), headquartered in Göteborg, Sweden. The WMF is a member of SportAccord. It organises World Championships for youth and elite players, and Continental Championships in Europe, Asia and the United States, held in alternate years.

WMF Members

Nation Governing body
 Australia Australian Mini Golf Association
 Austria Österreichischer Bahnengolf-Verband
 Belgium Union Belge de MiniGolf — Belgische Verbond voor MidgetGolf
 China China Minigolf Sport Federation
 Croatia Croatian Minigolf Federation
 Cyprus City Mini Golf
 Czech Republic Český minigolfový svaz
 Denmark Dansk Minigolf Union
 Estonia Estonian Minigolf Association
 Finland Suomen Ratagolfliitto
 France Fédération Française de Minigolf
 Germany Deutscher Minigolfsport Verband
 Great Britain British Mini Golf Association
 Hungary Magyar Minigolf Országos Szakszövetség
 India Minigolf Federation of India
 Indonesia Persatuan Mini Golf Indonesia
 Iran Iran Minigolf Societ
 Israel Israeli Minigolf Association (R.A.)
 Italy Federazione Italiana Golf su Pista
 Japan Japan Mini Golf Association
 Kosovo Federata e Minigolfit e Kosovës
 Latvia Latvian Minigolf Clubs Association
 Liechtenstein Liechtensteiner Minigolf-Sport-Verband
 Luxembourg Fédération Luxembourgeoise de Golf sur Pistes
 Malaysia Malaysian Minigolf Sport Association (MMGSA)
 Mexico Federacion Mexicana de Minigolf
 Moldova National Golf Federation of Moldova
 Mongolia Mongolian Amateur Minigolf Federation
 Netherlands NMB = Nederlandse Minigolf Bond
 New Zealand MiniatureGolf Association
 Norway Norges Minigolf Forbund
 Philippines Affiliation Minigolf of the Philippines
 Poland Minigolf Club Sopot
 Portugal Federacão Portuguesa de Minigolfe
 Romania Club Sportiv Minigolf Riviera
 Russia Russian Golf Association
 Serbia Serbian Minigolf Association
 Singapore Miniature Golf Association (Singapore)
 Slovakia Slovenský zväz dráhového golfu
 Slovenia Mini Golf Zveza Slovenije
 South Korea Korea Newsports Association
 Sweden Svenska Bangolfförbundet
  Switzerland Swiss Minigolf
 Taipei Minigolf Sport Association
 Thailand Minigolf Association Thailand
 Turkey Uluslararasi Minigolf & Tuna Minigolf
 Ukraine Ukrainian Golf Federation
 UAE Emirati Mini Golf
 USA United States ProMiniGolf Association (USPMGA)
 Vietnam Vietnam Minigolf Foundation

Course types

Eternite miniature golf course
Eternite miniature golf course
Felt course (front) and eternite course (rear), in Malmö
Felt course (front) and eternite course (rear), in Malmö

All competitions approved by World Minigolfsport Federation are played on standardized courses, whose design has been checked to be suitable for competitive play. The WMF currently approves four different course types:

  • Beton[14] (abbreviated B, sometimes called "Bongni" and named after Paul Bongni of Geneva, Switzerland, "Minigolf" or "Abteilung 1")
  • Eternite[15] (abbreviated E (in Sweden EB), sometimes called "Europabana", "Miniaturgolf" or "Abteilung 2")
  • Felt[16] (abbreviated F or SFR, sometimes called "Swedish felt runs"), and
  • Minigolf Open Standard[17] (abbreviated "MOS"). The latter non-standardized playing system, MOS, covers all minigolf courses that the three standardized systems (B, E, F) do not cover.

The world record on one round of minigolf is 18 strokes on 18 holes. More than a thousand players have officially achieved this score on eternite. On other playing systems a perfect round of 18 holes-in-one is extremely rare, and has never been scored in an official national or international tournament. Unofficial 18-rounds on concrete and felt courses have been reported in Sweden.[18]

In addition to classical outdoor miniature golf, indoor "glow in the dark" miniature golf has achieved some popularity, especially in colder climates like Canada[19] and Finland.[20] It can be played throughout the year, and climate control allows building elaborate obstacles that would not withstand inclement weather. There are also a variety of portable miniature golf fairways or 'tracks'[21] that can be set up as (JM Ents[22]) temporary courses indoors or outdoors. The fairways are usually constructed of wooden or glass fibre frames. Portable fairways are often used for summer festivals and fairs, corporate events, team-building events, and product launches.

The 18th and final holes of many miniature golf courses are designed to literally capture the ball, effectively preventing the player from playing additional rounds without purchasing another game. This may be accomplished with a "drain" or trap-door hole setup that channels the ball to a lockbox. One popular method of theming the 18th hole in the United States is to use a gated, ramped target area depicting the face of a clown; if the ball lands "in" the clown's nose, a bell might sound and the player would win a discount ticket for another game. Another method for capturing the ball incorporated by various adventure golf courses involves a tube that sucks and propels the ball with pressurised air to a collection area or another area of the course typically on a higher elevation.[23]


Nearly all European countries have an official national federation for promoting minigolf as a competition sport. The bi-annual European Championships attract competitors from more than twenty European countries. As of 2012, Chris Beattie has been the holder of the European Championship title.[24] Outside Europe only a small number of countries have participated in international minigolf competitions. These countries include the United States, Japan, China, India and Taiwan. A national minigolf federation exists also in Moldova, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand, but none of these countries has ever participated in international competitions, and probably are not arranging many domestic competitions either.[25]

World Minigolfsport Federation represents some 40,000 registered competition players from 37 countries.[26] The national minigolf federation of Germany has 11,000 members with a competing license,[27] and the Swedish federation has 8,000 registered competition players.[18] Other strong minigolf countries include Austria and Switzerland, each having a few thousand licensed competition players. Also Italy, Czech Republic and Netherlands have traditionally been able to send a strong team to international championships, even if they cannot count their licensed players in thousands.

The sceptre of competitive minigolf rests quite firmly in mainland Europe: no player from other countries (such as UK, the United States, Japan et cetera) has ever reached even the top 50 in World Championships (in men's category).[24] Nearly all national federations outside Europe were founded only quite recently (within the last ten years), and it will take time before the players of these countries learn all secrets of the game. The United States has a longer history of minigolf competitions, but the standardized European competition courses are practically unknown in the United States, and therefore the American players have been unable to learn the secrets of European minigolf. On the traditional American courses the best American players are able to challenge the European top players into a tough and exciting competition.[28]

The British Minigolf Association (BMGA) has an additional problem on their way to greater success in competitive minigolf. While the minigolf federations in mainland Europe receive annual funding from the government, in England the national sports organisation Sport England has refused to accept BMGA as its member – which means that BMGA is left without the public funding that other forms of sports enjoy. The rules of Sport England declare that only one variant of each sport can be accepted as member – and minigolf is interpreted as a variant of golf.[26]

The most prize money is paid in the United States, where the winner of a major competition may earn up to $5,000. In mainland Europe the prize money generally quite low, and in many cases honor is the only thing at stake in the competition. International championships usually award no prize money at all.

In the US there are two organizations offering national tournaments: the Professional Putters Association and the US Pro Mini-Golf Association (USPMGA). The USPMGA represents the United States in the World Minigolfsport Federation, having been an active member since 1995. USPMGA President Robert Detwiler is also the WMF representative for North and South America.

The New Israeli Minigolf Association was established in February 2010 in Israel. Setting up, for the first time, league play according to the rules of WMF and USPMGA. Now, a series of lush and inviting minigolf parks in prime locations are being built around Israel.


World Minigolfsport Federation (WMF), a member of AGFIS, organises World Championships biennially (on odd-numbered years), while the continental championships in Europe and Asia are organized on even-numbered years. Many of these competitions are arranged for three age groups: juniors (under 20 years), adults (no age limit), and seniors (over 45 years).[29] Men and women compete separately in their own categories, except in some team competitions and pair competitions. The difference in the playing skills of men and women is very small at the top level. Sometimes the best player in a major international tournament is female. Typically the winner in women's category would be very close to medals also in men's category.[30]

World and European Championships have so far never been arranged on MOS courses (which are popular in the United States and UK, and were approved by WMF for competition use only a few years ago). International competitions are typically arranged on two courses of 18 holes, of which one course is eternite, and the other course is usually concrete, less commonly felt. In the future, the WMF is expected to use also MOS courses in international championships – which will give American and British players a chance to show their skills on their own traditional course types.

The most prestigious MOS minigolf competitions in the world are the US Masters, US Open, British Open, World Crazy Golf Championships and the World Adventure Golf Masters.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ : MINIGOLFSPORT.COM :. - World minigolf sport federation
  2. ^ Welcome to Putt Putt Fun Centers!
  3. ^ "The Illustrated London News June 8 1912". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Why Midget Golf Swept The Country", November 1930, Popular Science
  5. ^ History of Miniature Golf
  6. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  7. ^ a b BANGOLF – Bangolf – bangolf – UPPKOMST OCH UTVECKLING
  8. ^ The history of minigolf Archived 16 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Svenska Bangolfförbundet
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ Welcome to US ProMiniGolf Association – The Official Internet Site For Prominigolf Archived 23 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "The History of Mini-Golf". Holey Moley Golf. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  13. ^ BANGOLF – Bangolf – bangolf – UPPKOMST OCH UTVECKLING
  14. ^ "Minigolfpics". 21 December 2007. Archived from the original on 14 January 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  15. ^ "Minigolfpics". 21 December 2007. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  16. ^ "Minigolfpics". 21 December 2007. Archived from the original on 21 December 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  17. ^ "Belfast, Adventure Golf - The Captain's Challenge". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  18. ^ a b Svenska Bangolfförbundet
  19. ^ [2] Archived 11 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Hohtogolf West Coast". Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  21. ^ "UrbanCrazy". UrbanCrazy. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  22. ^ "9 Hole Crazy Golf Hire | Uk's Best Mobile Crazy Golf". JM Entertainment Ltd: Uk Nationwide Event Hire. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  23. ^ "Mini Golf".
  24. ^ a b World minigolf sport federation Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ World minigolf sport federation Archived 18 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ a b "Minigolf: From Summer Holidays to the Summer Olympics". Archived from the original on 10 February 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  27. ^ 1.4. Mainz-Hartenbergpark 29.4. Kiel-Gaarden 13.5. Bamberg 3.6. Nümbrecht 1.7. Brechten 28.7. Bad Sobernheim Archived 5 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ [3] Archived 20 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 June 2007. Retrieved 8 April 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ Österreichischer Bahnengolfverband - Internationale Minigolfergebnisse Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine

External links

This page was last edited on 31 May 2022, at 10:27
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