Get a hole-in-one at the most eye-catching mini golf courses across the U.S. Mini golf hole at the Walker Art Center. (Walker Art Center/Mike LaCon/Flickr)
Get a hole-in-one at the most eye-catching mini golf courses across the U.S.
Lexile

Mini-golf’s first big boom was 85 years ago. Back then, there was nothing little about the industry. By August 1930 there were over 25,000 mini-golf courses in the country, according to the New York Times. At the same time, there were only about 6,000 regular golf courses in America.

The sport of mini-golf used to be called "midget golf." By some accounts, it first appeared as an alternative for women due to the belief that regular golf was somehow unladylike. In fact, the first putting-only course in the world was built in 1867. It was built at the famed Scottish course of St. Andrews and was solely for the St. Andrews’ Ladies Putting Club. 

From 1867 until the mid-1920s, mini-golf courses were mostly miniaturized, putting-only versions of regular golf courses. That changed in the late 1920s, when Garnet Carter built and patented his Tom Thumb course. It was in the resort town of Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. He took the “putting-only” course a step further, adding rock tunnels and hollowed-out logs as obstacles. And he “soon found that his miniature golf course was far more profitable than his standard one.”  

Mini-golf has come far from the days of hollowed-out logs. Today’s courses feature more obstacles. They have replicas of national landmarks, subway stations and laughing clowns. While there are only about 5,000 mini-golf courses still in America, there is a real art to the elaborate design of many of them. Here are six of the most eye-catching around the the country: 

Par-King Skill Golf: Lincolnshire, Illinois.

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Fifty years ago, Amusement Business magazine called this mini-golf course in the suburbs of Chicago “Mini-Golf’s Taj Mahal.” They said it was the most elaborate and highest-grossing course in the country. Today, this multi-generational family-owned business is still thriving. 

The family refers to Par-King as the ″World’s Most Unusual Miniature Golf Course” due to its many elaborate obstacles. These obstacles include a scale model of Mount Rushmore, a hand-crafted carousel and a replica Statue of Liberty. In 1975, the owners added a miniature wooden golf coaster (like a roller coaster, but designed to carry a golf ball) and, in the early 2000s, a steel “Super Looper” coaster that carries the ball upside-down. They are the only two like them in the world. 

Walker on the Green: Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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In 2014, the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis reached out to local artists to help them design and create a one-of-a-kind, fun family activity for their sculpture garden in downtown Minneapolis. The resulting course at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden turns every hole into a piece of art. 

Now in its fifth year, this 10-hole course offers unique and downright confusing challenges. In the past, one hole used the “uncertainty principle” to make putters guess which of the eight holes is the right one. Other holes involved a cemetery, a billiards table and even a musical Zen garden. Open until the beginning of September, this is a summer-only activity. 

Disney’s Fantasia Gardens: Orlando, Florida.

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Disney’s Fantasia Gardens at the Walt Disney World resort boasts two 18-hole courses, each eye-catching in a different way. One promises to delight children, while the other emphasizes skill.  

The more family-friendly course is themed around the 1940 Disney hit Fantasia. It features pirouetting alligators, dancing water fountains and spinning mushrooms that accompany players as they putt their way through 18 holes. Music from the movie is part of the experience, including surprising sound effects for hole-in-ones. 


Around the World Miniature Golf: Lake George, New York.

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When he was a young man during World War II, Harry Horn traveled across the country as a Navy electrician and pilot. After finally settling down in his hometown of Lake George, New York, Horn put his experiences and the souvenirs he brought back to good use. In 1963, he opened “Around the U.S. in 18 Holes,” a mini-golf course of his own design and construction. Today, there are many popular holes on the course. These include an ax-wielding Paul Bunyan, a giant lobster and a miniature replica of a New York subway station. 


Hawaiian Rumble Mini-Golf: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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Imagine, for a moment, lining up a putt at a mini-golf course several feet from the 18th hole. All of a sudden, a giant volcanic explosion rocks the green and everyone’s concentration. This may not seem like a welcome interruption at a golf course, but it is exactly what happens every 20 minutes at a course that’s been featured in Golf magazine and the New York Times. It’s the Hawaiian Rumble in Myrtle Beach.

Situated in the “mini-golf capital of the world,” this popular course is the annual home of the United States Pro Minigolf Association Masters. It is regarded as one of the toughest in the world. Although finely manicured and decorated with with hibiscus and palm trees, the real star of the course is the 40-foot concrete volcano. Originally used as a prop for the Dennis Hopper-directed movie “Chasers,” the volcano now causes mini-golfers to regularly shank their putts. 


Urban Putt: San Francisco, California.

Urban Putt Promo Video from Limevoodoo on Vimeo.

San Francisco’s landmarks come alive at Urban Putt in the Mission district. It was conceived by former tech journalist Steve Fox as a whirling, mechanical, high-tech course. It was designed and built by 65 local artists, designers and robotic experts. The holes are inspired by some of San Francisco’s most iconic attractions. It features the Painted Ladies, Lotta’s Fountain and, of course, the cable cars.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What do you think would be the most difficult feature that a course could have to challenge golfers? What would make it challenging?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (21)
  • SophiaD-del1
    5/07/2018 - 03:51 p.m.

    I think that the most obstacle that a course could be a wind mill or a steep ramp. A wind mill would be a challenge because you need direct and precise timing and power in your putt. A steep ramp would need a lot of power in your swing and accuracy to accompany it or else you might get the ball in the pond. Both of these challenges would need a powerful swing and accuracy to finish these challenges.

  • MarianaG-del
    5/07/2018 - 04:26 p.m.

    This article is awesome i would love to visit all of these places especially the one in San Franisco.

  • ZofiaT-del
    5/07/2018 - 04:47 p.m.

    The most difficult feature that a course could have to challenge golfers would be something involving a water system or even a windmill. It would be challenging because if you play with the water in golf, you don't know how the water will react or move with ball. A windmill would be difficult to pass, because a person must time their shot at a perfect moment to pass it.

  • AnnabelleA-del
    5/07/2018 - 04:48 p.m.

    I believe that the most difficult feature that a course could have to challenge golfers would be to have a hole in the middle of a wall standing up. They would have to get enough trajectory for the ball to get through the hole. The even more difficult aspect of this course would be that the wall is moving from side to side. Do you think you could beat my course?

  • JaredI-del
    5/07/2018 - 06:03 p.m.

    The obstacles probably are the most challenging in a golf course.

  • JasminderK-del
    5/07/2018 - 07:34 p.m.

    I think the most challenging feature that a course could have is a moving "obstacles" scubas windmills, moving obstacles are challenging because you have to time it and be very precise.

  • GregoryM-del
    5/07/2018 - 07:34 p.m.

    Miniature golf has always been a popular pass time in America. However there are six mini golf courses that stand out.

  • GabriellaJ-del
    5/07/2018 - 08:21 p.m.

    I think the most difficult feature that a course could have is what would be in the Walker on The Green course. They have an uncertainty principle which forces golfers to have to pick from eight different holes and see which one is the one that will allow them to win. this is hard because there is less than a 50/50 shot at picking the right one.

  • ChloeT-del
    5/07/2018 - 08:24 p.m.

    I think the most difficult feature that a course could have to challenge golfers is the one in Minneapolis, Minnesota which used the "uncertainty principle". There are eight holes and the person has to guess which one is the right hole. It is challenging because the golfers don't know which one is the real hole and they just have to guess and pick which one it is.

  • AkshayB-del
    5/07/2018 - 09:18 p.m.

    This article is about how mini gulf has boomed since 85 years ago. This sport used to be called
    "midget gulf" and was an alternative for women that somehow gulf was unladylike. From 1867 until the mid-1920s, mini-golf courses were mostly miniaturized. There are only about 5,000 mini-golf courses still in America. There are many mini gulf courses like the Par-King Skill Golf,Walker on the Green,Disney’s Fantasia Gardens,Around the World Miniature Golf,Hawaiian Rumble Mini-Golf.

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