Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.
Changes in Miniature Golf
Mini golf became a fad after WWI when Mr. Garnet Carter built a luxury hotel in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, and installed the first miniature course next door for his guests. Plenty of visitors used the course, even when they did not stay at the hotel.
The outdoor game was called "Tom Thumb Golf", with lots of whimsical obstacles, often including at least one tiny windmill.
The game reached its peak of popularity in the 1960s when motorcar vacations along the National Road/Route 40 and The Mother Highway/Route 66 increased. Many motels (motor hotels) included tiny golf courses for entertainment.
Today's "wacky golf,," another name for the game, has expanded to include activities like Halloween parties and some courses are indoors, underground, and bathed in blacklights.
Popular mini-courses have added arcades, restaurants, pinball machines, paintball courses, and laser tag.
Mini golf is a scaled down version of golf played with only a putter across short fairways with lots of whimsical obstacles, often including at least one windmill. This scaled down version is called miniature, mini, crazy, or wacky golf in different places around America.
Carter's Lookout Mountain/Fairyland Golf Club in Georgia is recognized on the National Registry of Historic Places. It now maintains a full-size golf course.
Prehistoric Tiny Golf: Did you know that In 1867 Scotland, the Ladies Putting Club at Saint Andrews first opened as a series of small putting greens for women only? This was probably the very first iteration of miniature golf.
Tiki Island Volcano Golf, Florida
Tiki Heads, Volcanoes, and Dinosaurs
A visit to Tiki Island Adventure and Volcano Golf at night can make an excellent Halloween alternative to haunted houses. You'll play mini golf by torchlight among Tiki heads and prehistoric reptiles throughout the courses.
The courses are both 18-hole golf games:
- Tiki Falls is themed after herbivores, and
- Volcano Falls is full of carnivores. That's scary!
Read More from WanderWisdom
A bonus 19th hole will erupt the volcano with actual fire when a ball is sunk. At night, that's a sight!
In addition to mini golf, you can ride a paddle boat around waterfalls, visit the gift shop, or play arcade games. A discount coupon is available online.
Nighttime at the Volcano Golf complex is exciting, especially on Halloween, and a safe alternative to Trick or Treat.
Putt Like an Egyptian in Nevada
Black Light Golf: King Putt
The original location is still an 18-hole indoor course in Las Vegas that features a glowing blacklight effect through a jungle of animals led by a lion king. In addition, a game arcade is featured that mixes old school games like ski ball with new computerized and digital fun. Arcade prizes include surprising things like tablet computers and remote-controlled drones.
The activities complex was so successful that it opened a second location to the southeast in nearby Henderson, where the mini golf winds through an Ancient Egyptian landscape with mummies. This location maintains its own pizzeria, The Toppled Tortoise, with unique pizzas and side dishes; and also features the Egyptian blacklight experience and giant arcade. You can have lunch and then play laser tag in this facility.
KISS! Monster Indoor Golf in Nevada
This is a huge 13,000 square foot facility in the successful chain of courses operated is a lot like Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza, but with the likeness of members of KISS, blacklights, and live disc jockeys.
The Las Vegas facility sits in the center of many other city attractions that include restaurants, hotels, and even a wedding chapel. However, the indoor course has its own rock and roll wedding chapel, gift shop, and large arcade!
Pizza and other food can be delivered to the course and a variety of parties, field trips, and other events are held at this location.
The Las Vegas KISS! Mini Golf is an indoor 18-hole course in neon and blacklighting, with life-size statues, high-quality video presentations, live music, and special items displayed that were owned by the band members.
Glowing Greens 3D Pirate Golf
Oregon's Glowing Basement Golf
This 18-hole course is underground in Downtown Portland, beneath Sixth Avenue and The Duniway Portland Hilton Hotel. If you stay at the Hilton, you have only to go down and walk diagonally across the street to enjoy it. You can play nine holes instead of the full course.
This blacklight basement hideaway is named "Glowing Greens", which reminds many people of radioactive salads. However, a tall pirate statue stands outside to mark the spot.
The installation is located at 509 SW Taylor St Portland, Oregon 97204-1208 as an indoor park with miniature golf, catering, parties, and corporate events accommodations.
Named Best Mini Golf by the Best Businesses of Portland Program for 2016 - 2017.
The mini golf course has a Pirate theme with glow-in-the-dark paint that requires 3-D glasses supplied by the course owners. The course is split into a front nine holes and a back nine holes, with the back nine being scarier than the first and not recommended for small children.
This miniature golf course is a about average price and located near many restaurants in a wide price range. "Outside" food and beverage are not permitted on the course, so players often eat next door before or after they play. Discount rates are available to large families and groups.
Strange Miniature Golf in Illinois
Ahlgrim Acres Golf of the Dead
Ahlgrim Funeral Parlor of Palatine, Illinois houses a Horror themed nine-hole miniature golf course20 feet below the street level. The owners call it Ahlgrim [All Grim] Acres.
With a further nod to gallows humor, course obstacles include headstones, coffins, and a haunted house. Originally built shortly after 1964 for the Ahlgrim children, the course is now used by all the funeral home's employees, who pit themselves against the owner and always lose.
Video games were added when they became popular in Palatine.
Ahlgrim Funeral Parlor of Palatine, Illinois houses a horror themed 9-hole miniature golf course in its basement and calls it Ahlgrim [All Grim] Acres.
Funeral Home Basement Mini Golf
The mini-course is free to use, but players must call for an appointment to use it because it is pretty popular. In addition, miniature golf is part of the standard Ahlgrim funeral package, and many people like it as it brightens sad days.
The golf layout is used by local clubs for meetings, initiation rites, small birthday celebrations, and the like. Vacationers like stopping by to play a round. The basement amusement area also offers a ping pong table, shuffleboard games, and video pinball-type activities.
Some Palatine locals call the mortuary "America's Funniest Funeral Home." Aside form that, the place is unique, because the owners will rent caskets for use before cremation of the departed - the interior insert is sturdy and easy to replace for the next rental.
Ahlgrim's is certainly one-of-a-kind.
Haunted Trails to You in Illinois
Haunted Trails is a group and enchanted castle and horror-themed miniature golf parks located in Bridgeview, Burbank, Joliet, and Lombard in Illinois.
The haunted trails themed courses have always had a Horror/Halloween phenomenon, the first one built in the 1960s. This was the era in which Forrest J. Akerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine was very popular. Vacationers enjoyed the mini golf park because it featured their favorite movie monsters and Halloween goblins—ghosts, ghouls, the Mummy, Dracula, large water obstacles, etc.
Haunted Trails is still a popular haunt, especially by families and parties of friends that want to do something different for Halloween festivities or want a good Halloween alternative.
The only confusing thing is that some of the ghouls are trash cans, while other ghouls are guards at the course holes, so some balls end up in the wrong place. It adds to the merriment.
Par-King: The World's Most Unusual Miniature Golf
Par-King Skill Golf was originally Gorgeous George's Garden Golf, George being a famous wrestler during pro wrestling's early years.
One of these courses opened in Morton Grove. Illinois in 1956 and was not monstrous at all, full of castles and lush landscaping. The owner, George, likely gained some business from the "Gorgeous George" title, because of the current famous professional wrestler of the era—Gorgeous George Wagner. he was similar to today's Rick Flair. Thus, some people thought of it as connected to professional wrestling.
However, the original closed in 2003. Some of the fixtures and figures from the mini-course holes were moved to another of the owner's courses opened in 1976 in Lincolnshire. This one is still in operation and advertises itself as "The World's Most Unusual Miniature Golf." The course figures are well maintained and painted anew in the spring, but many look like a horror carnival of the grotesque. People afraid of clowns need to be particularly careful.
This miniature golf course features a roller coaster hole, a little old lady that lived in a shoe hole, a rodeo rider, Indians, and a merry-go-round in addition to many others in keeping with a carnival and storybook atmosphere. Mount Rushmore really doesn't seem to fit the theme but is included just the same.
Extinct Golgotha Golf, Kentucky
Golgotha and the Ark
Golgotha was open, closed, and re-opened in 2011, east of Mammoth Cave National Park, in Cave City and the property includes the new Big Jack's Rib Shack. Currently, the playing course is closed, but visitors like to view the Bible scenes that remain.
Today, vacationers can see some of the same scenes that Golgotha featured, depicted at the Noah's Ark Creation Museum in Williamstown, Kentucky. However, parts of Golgotha are still standing and viewed by tourists as a fun free activity.
Biblical Miniature Golf?
Religious amusement parks seem creepy to me—like evil clowns and damp torture chambers. Golfing through the Red Sea or across the tableau of the Sermon on the Mount seems wrong.
Golgotha Bible Mini Golf opened in Cave City 1992 and by 2008, it was open during inconsistent days and hours. Other miniature golf courses with regular hours and Bible themes have been found in places like Ohio, Lexington, KY; South Carolina; and Nashville.
The front nine holes of Golgotha represent the Old Testament and the back nine holes cover the New Testament.
Various concrete statues of Jesus and other Bible personages create the mini-course obstacles. After 18 holes, there were Go-Carts and paintball to enjoy.
Three giant white crosses rise up ominously at the edge of the parking lot at the 18th hole even today, as a travel oddity for sightseers.
On the path through the wilderness to get to Hole 18, players navigated Biblical hazards and miracles. After renting a club and ball in the gift shop, you went to Tee #1 and The Book of Genesis. On the front nine were Adam and Eve, Moses and the Red Sea, and Daniel and his Lion.
A comical sight was Jonah sitting in the mouth of his whale, wearing shorts. Saint Francis was herding the animals onto the Ark.This is not in scripture, but scriptures are posted at each hole. However, the park sports elves and men in lederhosen.
The final hole Golgotha itself, where Jesus was crucified, is a difficult uphill course. I don't think I could play through the Crucifixion. Golgotha Fun Park was a horror park.
Rube Goldberg Machine Golf
Historic Mini Golf Site
Just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, the Lilliput Mini Golf complex attracted players in Grand Lake, Colorado with a full 36 holes at the end of Golf Course Road. Visitors still stop by to see the portions of the complex still standing.
Many of the holes featured mechanical equipment to entertain players as they passed through the courses, front and back 18 each. Customers could choose to play only half the course, but the building stood between the two courses and the ball rode a lift over the structure and down the other side to reach the next tee.
The mini golf course was a lot of fun but closed because of a financial downturn. Parts of some of the more memorable holes on the course are still standing and visitors enjoy seeing them.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2008 Patty Inglish MS