History of Miniature Golf

History of Miniature Golf and how it evolved into today’s game.

The history of miniature golf starts in 1927 when Garnet Carter was the first person to patent a game of miniature golf which he called “Tom Thumb Golf”. However, there were a few earlier unpatented versions of miniature golf type games. For example, in 1916, James Barber of Pinehurst, North Carolina had a miniature golf course on his estate called the Thistle Du.

Garnet Carter built his “Tom Thumb Golf” miniature golf course on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee to draw traffic to the hotel he owned. His wife, Frieda Carter did most of the designing of the course’s obstacles which had a fairyland theme.

In 1922, Thomas Fairborn built a miniature golf course with a putting surface made from crushed cottonseed hulls mixed with oil, dyed green, and rolled on top of a sand foundation. This mini golf putting green combination was cheap, easily made and revolutionized the early miniature golf game. Fairborn also founded a company called the Miniature Golf Courses of America Inc. Fairborn patented his method of making a playing surface, which was an inexpensive method.


The history of miniature golf continues when the first indoor miniature golf course was opened in New York City, in 1926 by Drake Delanoy and John Ledbetter. It was built on top of one of the cities skyscraper building. Delanoy and Ledbetter copied Thomas Fairborn’s process of using this crushed cottonseed hulls putting green mixture, and infringed upon Mr. Fairborn’s patent. Eventually, a financial arrangement was arrived at between Delanoy and Ledbetter and Fairborn that let the cottonseed hull process be used over 150 roof top miniature courses in New York City.

Today, miniature golf is known by several names..Mini Golf, Putt-Putt Golf and in some places it’s called Crazy Golf, Goofy Golf, or Midget Golf. There are miniature golf course all over the world featuring hundreds if not thousands of themed courses.

In the United States, there is a pro mini golf circuit called the US ProMiniGolf Association, which is part of the larger World MiniGolf Association. They have their own “Masters” tournament which is held annually at the Hawaiian Rumble Mini Golf Course in North Myrtle Beach SC.

The Karate Kid filmed at Golf N’ Stuff

The original Karate Kid movie starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita, was filmed at Golf N’ Stuff Norwalk, California which features four 18-hole mini golf courses and a huge arcade.