Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 23, 2010
Eternite Miniature golf course

Eternite Miniature golf course

October 23. 1930: The first miniature golf tournament is held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA with J. K. Scott winning. Miniature golf is played in a similar fashion to non-miniature golf. There are usually nine or eighteen holes to be played, although there can be twelve holes. The idea is to get a golf ball into the hole in the fewest strokes possible. The mini-course is entirely putting greens with obstacles added, such as ramps and bunkers.

The first mini golf course was created at St. Andrews, Scotland in 1867 for use by women. At the time, women were barred from swinging a club past shoulder height and so were unable to play the regulation course. The popularity of mini golf increased in the 1910s and 1920s with Thistle Dhu (This’ll Do) built in Pinehurst, North Carolina in 1916 and Tom Thumb’s Garnet Carter at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee in 1927. The game was known as garden golf. In 1922, Thomas McCulloch Fairbairn created an artificial green made from cottonseed hulls, sand, oil, and dyed green. This revolutionized the game and mini golf spread everywhere. In the 1920s there were over 30,000 courses nationwide and 150 rooftop courses in NYC alone.

After the stock market crash, the sport became too expensive for most people to play. Innovative folks set up local courses with obstacles built with anything that could be found, like cast off wagon wheels, stove pipes, barrels, or rain gutters. They used whatever space was available and the courses were known as “Rinkiedink” golf.

The first tournament was played by winners of play-offs from the forty-eight states who came to Chattanooga’s Tom Thumb course. The entire purse was $10,000 with top place taking $2,000. Over 200 players came to compete representing thirty states. Today, miniature golf tournaments are held in twenty states and at seven international sites including meets in Europe and Asia.

“If you think it’s hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball.” – Jack Lemmon

“Man blames fate for other accidents but feels personally responsible for a hole in one.” – Martha Beckman

“They say golf is like life, but don’t believe them.  Golf is more complicated than that.” – Gardner Dickinson

“I regard golf as an expensive way of playing marbles.” – G.K. Chesterton

Also on this day, in 1958 the Springhill mining disaster took place, trapping Nova Scotia miners.

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