Miniature golf developed in several different locations during the early twentieth century. The pioneering course is believed to be “Thistle Dhu,” built in 1916 on the estate of James Barber at Pinehurst, North Carolina.
As a variation of regulation golf, miniature golf allows only the use of a putter on a course with holes designed on a much smaller scale. These shorter holes may include obstacles where it is acceptable to bounce the ball off the sides and play angle shots. Courses typically featured 18 holes, often with elaborate, mechanized hazards such as windmills and musical entertainment. Curbing, which controlled putts, could be used like bumpers on a billiard table and added a dimension not found on conventional courses. Miniature golf courses was one of the first sports to have lighting for night play.
The creation of artificial turf liberated the game from natural grass and maintenance issues, and made the game commercially viable. By the mid-1920s there were an estimated 150 miniature golf courses located just on New York City rooftops. Although intended for children, miniature golf quickly attracted adults, and annual attendance for these attractions in the United States alone was soon estimated in the millions.
With the collapse of the stock market in 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression, miniature golf went into a period of decline; however, following World War II, miniature golf experienced a revival in popularity, and during the 1950s, mini golf was promoted as a popular family activity. By 2015, Florida still had over 80 miniature golf courses in operation across the state.
The Florida Historic Mini Golf Trail features courses that are over 50 years old. Putt your way across Florida's beaches, through the feet of a giant sphinx, around snakes and monkeys, next to giant tiki heads and much more.
A feature of the Florida Historic Mini Golf Trail program is the specially designed scorecard, which lists the partner courses on the trail. Golfers can use the scorecard to check off the courses they play, and write in their score, hole-in-ones and the date. Scorecards will be available at all the partner golf courses on the trail and at selected sites across the state.
Click on the links below to learn more about these partner courses, for fun kids coloring pages to print, and to find ideas that you can share or use to help plan your family's next golfing trip!
Fort Walton Beach
Panama City Beach
St. Pete Beach