Unusual Mini Golf Courses With Blacklights, Dinosaurs, Funeral Homes, Pirates and Castles
A Short History of Miniature Golf
A new game called "Tom Thumb Golf" became popular when it was patented in 1927 by hotel owner Garnet Carter. The game 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.
A generic name for the activity became "miniature golf" or "mini golf" and it reached a peak of popularity in the 1960s when motorcar vacations along the National Road (Route 40) and The Mother Highway (Route 66) increased. Many motels (moot hotels) had the tiny golf courses beside them.
Mr. Carter did not retain exclusive mini golf rights, so he missed the chance to gain licensing fees on franchises globally from 1926 forward. Today, A Tom Thumb course still operates in Waupaca, Wisconsin.
In 1927, Carter built his course next to his hotel on Tennessee's famous Lookout Mountain, an active tourist spot that brought substantial traffic. This patented course featured a large storybook and fairy tale themes.
The game 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.
Mr. Carter founded Fairyland Manufacturing Corporation, eventually responsible for 3,000 Tom Thumb Golf franchises. However, he used the same course materials that a 1922 inventor had patented and was required to pay royalties to inventor Thomas Fairborn.
In the 2000s it is some critics' thought that online miniature golf has passed online bowling in popularity among wireless game players, but a resurgence in actual courses occurred in the 2010s. Courses added arcades, restaurants, pinball machines, paintball courses, and laser tag.
Prehistoric Tiny Golf 1867
Before all of this, un-patented games of mini golf did exist.
In 1867 Scotland, the Ladies Putting Club at Saint Andrews opened as a series of putting greens for women that were not seen on full scale golf courses of the era. Then somewhere in London, a "Golfstacle" course opened for a time, but was un-patented.
Back in 1916, in Pinehurst NC, James Barber built such a course on his family estate. He named it "Thistle Du" and patented some of the processes of his game.
In 1922, Thomas Fairborn operated a successful miniature golf game in Mexico. He founded Miniature Golf Courses of America Inc. and patented a process of making the playing surfaces from cottonseed hulls, oil, and green dye all laid over sand.
Next came a skyscraper rooftop mini golf course in 1926, built by Ledbetter and Delanoy. However, they illegally used Mr. Fairborn's patented process without permission. Legal action ensued and a mutual agreement, likely with royalties paid to Fairborn, was struck whereby the Fairborn method was permitted on 150 rooftop mini courses. Fairborn also collected royalties from Garnet Carter, mentioned above.
Miniature, mini, crazy, or wacky golf picked up popularity after the Depression and several umbrella associations or federations arose. Putt-Putt Golf company franchises became the most recognized franchise in the US after its 1954 opening in North Carolina. Today, miniature golf is international, the subject of several tournaments and some large cash prizes.
Aside from the usual miniature golf courses, there are a variety of very strange and bizarre alternatives.
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 torch light 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! You can preview each course online at the link below, with daylight photos that are quite attractive; and a video of nighttime play.
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.
See slides of 12 dinosaurs located on the courses at the website. After you see all the features of this mini golf park, you will want to go:
7560 International Drive; Orlando Florida 32819
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 Mini Golf Indoor Course
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 into 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 a life-size statues, high quality video presentations, live music, and special items on displayed that were owned by the band members.
Glowing Greens 3D Pirate Golf, Oregon
Named Best Mini Golf by the Best Businesses of Portland Program for 2016 - 2017.
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.
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 9 holes and a back 9 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.
Ahlgrim Acres Mortuary Golf, Illinois
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.
Ahlgrim Acres Golf of the Dead
Ahlgrim Funeral Parlor of Palatine, Illinois houses a Horror themed 9-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.
Basement Mini GolfClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
Unusual Chicago Mini Golf
Haunted Trails to You in Illinois
Haunted Trails is a group and enchanted castle and horror themed miniature golf parks located in Bridgeview, Burbank, Joiliet, 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 Alternatives.
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 Linconshire. 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.
Today, vacationers can see some of the same things that Golgotha featured, depicted at the Noah's Ark recreation in Williamstown, Kentucky.
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, and 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
Lilliput Mini Golf attracted players in Grand Lake, Colorado until 2013 with a full 36 holes at the end of Golf Course Road (see map below).
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.
© 2008 Patty Inglish