The first trade-name course was established in 1926 at the Fairyland Inn (wow!) holiday resort on the Tennesee / Georgia border, under the name 'Tom Thumb's Golf'. In keeping with the fairy-tale theme of the resort, patrons of Tom Thumb's Golf were required to negotiate Brothers Grimm-ish obstacles like Little Red Riding Hood, elves and gnomes. By 1929, Tom Thumb golf courses were being manufactured and distributed nationally, and by mid 1930 mini golf had exploded into a bone fide national phenonemon, with an estimated 25,000-30,000 courses being enjoyed by 4 million Americans every day. Insane, huh? Like any good pointless fad, at the height of Mini golf mania there were a clutch of quick-buck pop records released to cash-in on the trend, including "I've Gone Goofy Over Miniature Golf", "Since My Wife Took Up Playing Miniature Golf", and "I'm Put-Put-Puttin' on the Dinky Links All Day".
BUT THE BOOM TIME FOR MINI GOLF WAS SHORT LIVED!
'Cos then The Depression hit and apparently most Americans didn't consider mini golf fees an essential part of their budget. Whatever, Americans.
BUT THEN TWENTY YEARS LATER, THERE WAS A SECOND GOLDEN AGE OF MINI GOLF!
The unstoppable spread of suburbia and the post-war baby boom contributed to a resurgence in mini golf popularity during the 50s and early 60s. This was when things got really crazy in terms of obstacles, hazards, stunts and themes. Courses were often attached to drive-in movie theatres or motels or mom 'n' pop road-side diners. While there was a handful of national companies servicing the mini golf industry, distributing pre-fab branded kits, most courses were home-made works of redneck ingenuity, folk-art essentially, hammered together with lumber, scrap metal and poured concrete. I cannot think of a pursuit more noble than the creation of an awesome mini golf hole. Check this out:
How ace is that?