Miniature golf (also known as minigolf, putt-putt, crazy golf, and by several other names) 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 those of its parent, but the courses are characterized by their short length (usually within 10 metres from tee to cup).

Miniature golf
Highest governing bodyWorld Minigolf Sport Federation
Mixed-sexNo, except mixed multiples
TypeClub sport
Equipmentputter, ball, artificial course
World Games1989 (invitational)

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 like windmills, and walls made 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
A miniature golf course in Cape May, New Jersey

Nomenclature edit

While the World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF)[1] prefers to use the name minigolf, the game has several other names which vary between countries, including mini-golf, midget golf, goofy golf, shorties, extreme golf, crazy golf, adventure golf, mini-putt, and putter golf. 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. 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.

History edit

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 June 8, 1912, edition of The Illustrated London News, which introduces a minigolf course called the Gofstacle.[3]

The first standardized minigolf courses to enter commercial mass-production were the Thistle Dhu ("This'll Do") course in 1916 in Pinehurst, North Carolina,[4][5] 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.[6] This American minigolf boom of early 20th century came to an end during the Great Depression in the late 1930s. Nearly all minigolf courses in the United States were closed and demolished before the end of the 1930s.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9]

European origins edit

Minigolf Ascona, opened in 1954

One of the first documented minigolf courses in mainland Europe was built in 1926 by a man surnamed Schröder in Hamburg, Germany. Schröder had been inspired by his visit to the United States, where he had seen minigolf courses spreading across the country.[10]

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.[10]

Swedish minigolf courses typically had a rectangular wooden frame surrounding the playing area made of tennis field sand;[11] in contrast, 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 the United Kingdom, 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)[12] was founded in 1937, making it the oldest minigolf sport organization in the world. National Swedish championships in minigolf have been played yearly since 1939.[13] 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. It is the oldest course in the world which follows the norms of Paul Bongni.

Competitive games edit

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.[14] 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. edit

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

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.[15][16]

By the late 1950s, 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 organised 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 Tried 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 May 12, 2007, and was officially recognized and published in 2008's edition of Chase's Calendar of Events.

Other countries edit

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.[17]

Governing body edit

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 Global Association of International Sports Federations,[18] and within it, of the Alliance of Independent Recognized Members of Sport (AIMS).[19] WMF is also member of the Association for International Sport for All (TAFISA).[20]

It organizes World Championships for youth and elite players, and Continental Championships in Europe, Asia and the United States, held in alternate years.

WMF Members edit

Nation Governing body
  Australia Australian Mini Golf Association
  Austria Österreichischer Bahnengolf-Verband
  Belgium Union Belge de MiniGolf — Belgische Verbond voor MidgetGolf[21]
  China China Minigolf Sport Federation
  Croatia Croatian Minigolf Federation
  Cyprus City Mini Golf
  Czech Republic Český minigolfový svaz
  Denmark Dansk Minigolf Union[22]
  Estonia Estonian Minigolf Association
  Finland Suomen Ratagolfliitto
  France Fédération Française de Minigolf
  Germany Deutscher Minigolfsport Verband[23]
  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[24]
  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 edit

Eternite miniature golf course
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[25] (abbreviated B, sometimes called "Bongni" and named after Paul Bongni of Geneva, Switzerland, "Minigolf" or "Abteilung 1")
  • Eternite[26] (abbreviated E (in Sweden EB), sometimes called "Europabana", "Miniaturgolf" or "Abteilung 2")
  • Felt[27] (abbreviated F or SFR, sometimes called "Swedish felt runs"), and
  • Minigolf Open Standard[28] (abbreviated "MOS"). The latter non-standardized playing system, MOS, covers all minigolf courses that the three standardized systems (B, E, F) do not cover.

Course features edit

The final holes (often the 18th hole or a bonus 19th hole[29]) of many miniature golf courses are designed to 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.

The 19th hole on miniature golf courses is often a hole in which if a hole-in-one is scored, one receives a free game.[29] 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 may 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 pressurized air to a collection area or another area of the course typically on a higher elevation.[citation needed]

Competitions edit

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.[30]

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.[31] 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.[32]

World Minigolfsport Federation represents some 40,000 registered competition players from 37 countries.[33] The national minigolf federation of Germany has 11,000 members with a competing license,[34] and the Swedish federation has 8,000 registered competition players.[30] 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).[31] 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.[35]

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 organization 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.[33]

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.

International edit

World Minigolfsport Federation (WMF), a member of AGFIS,[36] organizes 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).[37] 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.[38]

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 edit

References edit

  1. ^ "MINIGOLFSPORT.COM :. – World minigolf sport federation". Archived from the original on January 10, 2005. Retrieved August 18, 2004.
  2. ^ "Welcome to Putt Putt Fun Centers!". Archived from the original on March 25, 2010. Retrieved April 7, 2010.
  3. ^ "The Illustrated London News June 8, 1912". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  4. ^ 84–86 Wiswell, Edward H. "The Golf Course of Thistle Dhu: A Miniature Course that Demands All the Skill of An Expert Golfer." Popular Science Monthly 95, No. 2, August 1919. Archived November 16, 2022, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Keeler, O.B (March 1928). "It's a Shriving Test: It's Hard to Tell What You'll Do at Thistle Dhu" (PDF). The American Golfer. Vol. XXXI, no. 6. pp. 8, 40. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 7, 2010. Retrieved August 18, 2022.
  6. ^ Corporation, Bonnier (November 13, 1930). "Why Midget Golf Swept The Country". Popular Science. Bonnier Corporation. p. 22 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "History of Miniature Golf". Archived from the original on February 27, 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2005.
  8. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  9. ^ West Island Chronicle, June 29, 2008.
  10. ^ a b "BANGOLF - Bangolf - bangolf - UPPKOMST OCH UTVECKLING". October 5, 2007. Archived from the original on October 5, 2007.
  11. ^ "The history of minigolf". Archived from the original on April 16, 2008.
  12. ^ "Svenska Bangolfförbundet". Archived from the original on April 6, 2007. Retrieved April 7, 2007.
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ "Welcome to US ProMiniGolf Association – The Official Internet Site For Prominigolf". Archived from the original on July 23, 2012.
  15. ^ Greenbaum, Hilary. “Who Made Mini-Golf?”, The New York Times, April 6, 2012.
  16. ^ McMillan, Libby. “Putt-Putt’s 60th Puts Spotlight on Mini-Golf,” USA Today, June 11, 2014.
  17. ^ "BANGOLF - Bangolf - bangolf - UPPKOMST OCH UTVECKLING". Archived from the original on October 5, 2007.
  18. ^ btcom. "GAISF » Members". Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  19. ^ "Members – AIMS". Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  20. ^ "International Members | TAFISA". Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  21. ^ "". Archived from the original on September 22, 2003.
  22. ^ "Dansk Minigolf Union".
  23. ^ "Deutscher Minigolfsport Verband - Minigolf und mehr".
  24. ^ "Nederlandse Minigolf Bond - Home".
  25. ^ "Minigolfpics". December 21, 2007. Archived from the original on January 14, 2013. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  26. ^ "Minigolfpics". December 21, 2007. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  27. ^ "Minigolfpics". December 21, 2007. Archived from the original on December 21, 2007. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  28. ^ "Belfast, Adventure Golf – The Captain's Challenge". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  29. ^ a b "Mini Golf and putting terminology". Archived from the original on October 29, 2016. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  30. ^ a b "Svenska Bangolfförbundet". Archived from the original on May 5, 2007. Retrieved April 8, 2007.
  31. ^ a b "World minigolf sport federation". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
  32. ^ "World minigolf sport federation". Archived from the original on January 18, 2016.
  33. ^ a b "Minigolf: From Summer Holidays to the Summer Olympics". Archived from the original on February 10, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  34. ^ "1.4. Mainz-Hartenbergpark 29.4. Kiel-Gaarden 13.5. Bamberg 3.6. Nümbrecht 1.7. Brechten 28.7. Bad Sobernheim" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 5, 2015.
  35. ^ [2] Archived June 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ "AGFIS - General Association of International Sports Federations : Home". Archived from the original on April 10, 2007. Retrieved April 8, 2007.
  37. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 20, 2007. Retrieved April 8, 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  38. ^ "Österreichischer Bahnengolfverband – Internationale Minigolfergebnisse". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.

External links edit

  • WMF – World Minigolfsport Federation (WMF)