Articles, activities for boomers & seniors
What is the history of miniature golf?
In these days of gender sensitivity, it is interesting to note that miniature golf had its beginnings as a lady's sport.
If you played stickball as a child, then you followed along a tradition that goes back to the 13th century and perhaps beyond. There are records of the Dutch playing a game where a leather ball was hit in order to reach a target several hundred yards away. The player who succeeded with the fewest strokes won.
A couple centuries later, the Scots added a new feature to the game: holes. The game is first mentioned in an Act of Scottish Parliament in 1457, which called for it to be banned alongside football. King James II of Scotland prohibited the playing of games because it was a distraction from military training, and he felt that becoming an archery pro was more worthwhile than becoming a golf pro.
After being banned several more times throughout the 15th century, and golf being lambasted as an unprofitable sport, restrictions on playing the game were removed with the Treaty of Glasgow that came into effect in 1502.
Today, the Scots are extremely proud of their golfing heritage and their “ancient” courses that continue to pull in thousands of visitors each year as they continue to play their part in the history of golf.
Miniature golf was a modification of the Scottish game that required whacking a little ball with a big club in a seemingly flamboyant fashion. Such a display was considered unladylike, whereas merely putting the ball was more decorous. In 1867, St. Andrew's Ladies Putting Club created the world's first putting-only course, allowing a more demure version of the sport.
Golf-related documents show up in the United States in 1739, and the South Carolina Golf Club opened in 1787. The rest is — well — history.
The history of miniature golf in the United States begins in the Roaring Twenties, when the elite of society, mostly wealthy industrialists, discovered mini golf courses at posh resorts around the country. They were considered "executive courses."
Courses as we know them today began in 1916 with the opening of a putting-only course in North Carolina: the Thistle Dhu ("This'll do"). New York City soon sprouted rooftop courses in the dozens. Good thing they were for putting only!
The depression of the Great Depression took its toll on most courses, but the post-WWII fun revival brought back the miniature golf courses with gusto.
Why would I play miniature golf?
Although you're not walking miles around a golf course and whacking a ball with all your strength, mini golf offers many health benefits.
Miniature golf provides cardiovascular exercise. You can burn around 300 calories during a game of mini golf.
- Adults, seniors, and especially children, benefit from burning off energy to better enjoy times of quiet. Walking off energy, swinging the club, chasing a ball, and chasing friends around the course, deliver relief from stress.
- Swinging works large muscle groups, while bending and squatting works legs.
- Mini golf can improve hand-eye coordination, balance, and motor skills.
- Little kids need to add and subtract to figure out scores and pars.
- Children and adults with physical and mental challenges can have as much fun as anyone.
- Everyone can learn that sportsmanship and silliness can go hand-in-hand.
So, whether you get a hole-in-one or can't get past the windmill, get out and have some serious fun!
Where can I play miniature golf? (Please contact venues for costs and availability.)
George's Oasis Restaurant | 2355 Schoenersville Rd., Allentown | 610-264-1955 | georgesoasis.com | Everyday: 9am - 8pm; Golfers are allowed to start play until 7:15 pm.
King's Family Golf Center | 7200 Airport Rd., Bath | 610-837-9551
Rolling Hills Recreation | 4565 Spring Hill Dr., Schnecksville | 484-646-2200 The former Spring Hills Golf & Batting Cages site has been purchased and refurbished, with upgrades to the 18-hole course, clubhouse, and snack bar. Other attractions include new challenges for golfers, artisan ice cream, and rewired batting cages.