July 2, 2022

History of Miniature Golf

Miniature golf, or crazy golf in the United Kingdom, is a miniature version of the game of golf. Even though the international sports association “World Minigolf Sport Federation” prefers the name of “minigolf,” the general public has many other names for this miniature game of golf. In addition to minigolf, it’s also referred to as mini-golf, midget golf, goofy golf, crazy golf, shorties, extreme golf, adventure golf and mini-putt.

In the United States, it may also be referred to as “Putt-Putt” which is a trademark of an American company that builds and franchises miniature golf courses as well as Family Entertainment Centers. “Minigolf” was a term that was initially a registered trademark of a Swedish company that built its own patented type of miniature golf courses.

One of the first courses in mainland Europe was built by Fr. Schroder in Hamburg, Germany in 1926. Fr. Schroder was inspired by a recent visit to the United States where he had seen miniature golf courses spreading across the country.

Edwin O. Norrman and Eskil Norman visited the United States where they spent several years witnessing the golden age of the American miniature golf boom. They returned to Sweden in 1930 and in 1931 founded a company “Norman och Norrmans Miniatyrgolf.” They started creating standardized courses for the Swedish market. Throughout the early 30’s, they spread this new sport across Sweden by installing their miniature golf courses in public parks and other locations.

American manufacturers were using a newly developed and patented felt as the surface of their courses. Swedish courses didn’t use felt, but rather tennis field sand. The playing area was enclosed with a rectangular wooden frame. Felt did not become popular in Sweden until the mid 1960’s. Since then it has become almost the only surface material used in Britain and Scandinavia due to its preferable qualities in wet weather. With felt, the game can be played in wet weather since it allows the water to seep through it and into the ground. Other materials allow rainwater to collect in pools which prevents the ball from rolling.

In 1937, the Swedish Minigolf Federation Svenska Bangolfforbundet was founded which has become the oldest miniature golf sport association in the world. National Swedish championships have been played every year since 1939. Due to the post-war economical depression, miniature golf sport associations were not founded in other countries until the late 1950’s.