A History of Mini Golf
Mini Golf is an innovative and fun version of golf and as its name suggests is played on a miniature course with a putter and golf ball. The very first Mini Golf course was named "Thistle Du", meaning "this'll do" and was designed in 1916 by James Barber and Edward E. Wisell.
Thomas McCulloch Fairborn, a transplanted Englishman, developed his version of a Mini Golf course at Tlahualilo, Mexico in 1922 by using crushed cotton seed hulls and oil a process which he patented. In 1926, Drake Delaney and John Ledbetter built a Mini Golf course on the rooftop of a skyscraper in New York City using Fairborn's process of crushed cotton seed hulls. The pair went on to sell more than 150 roof top Mini Golf franchises.
In 1927, one Garnet Carter patented his Mini Golf course as Tom Thumb Golf. Garnet Carter had a resort hotel on top of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee and he wanted to draw traffic to his hotel by using a Mini Golf course that stood out. Consequently his Tom Thumb Golf course had a theme of a fairyland and used obstacles on the course; the obstacles were designed by Frieda Carter, wife of Garnet Carter. Since Carter also adopted the same process of crushed cotton seed hulls, he had to pay royalty fee to Fairborn. His Tom Thumb Golf course went on to became a major draw in its own right that Carter established the Fairyland Manufacturing Corporation in 1930 to manufacture Tom Thumb Mini Golf courses and ended up selling over 3,000 franchises.
In the thirties of the last century, the game went into a steep decline until it was revived after Second World War. Artificial turf replaced Fairborn's cotton seed hull process in the 1950's and one of the first to adopt this new technique was Don Clayton when he founded Putt Putt Golf and Games in 1953. As Clayton was not a fan of trick shots, he designed his courses to allow only straight putting. Clayton's Putt Putt Golf courses can be found today in over 500 locations.
Al Lomma of Scranton, Pennsylvania revived tricks and challenging obstacles back in 1955 using wacky, animated Mini Golf courses based on Carters Tom Thumb Mini Golf courses. This type of Mini Golf course is often referred to as Crazy Golf.
The 1970's and 80's witnessed the development of amusement parks featuring not only Mini Golf courses, but other attractions such as go-kart tracks and arcade games. These amusement parks are commonly referred to as Family Entertainment Centers (FEC) The FEC industry has been one of the fastest growing industries for the last two decades. The synergy that has been created in this industry due to the integration of all these attractions is certainly responsible for its phenomenal success. Customers enjoyed the various attractions and as a result stay longer in the centers. FEC's always conduct research on market trends and customers' requirements and tastes and as a result they continue to remain successful.