It’s easy to take the evolution of mini golf for granted when it’s always been a fun activity for as long as our generation can remember. But like all great things, mini golf has a rich and fascinating history that spans over a century. 

The entrance to a glow-in-the-dark indoor mini golf course at Monster Mini Golf.

Let Monster Mini Golf take you on a trip down memory lane and explore the origins of this beloved pastime.

The Evolution of Mini Golf: A Journey Through Time

Here’s a walk through history, starting from the inception of mini golf to its rise in popularity:

The Humble Origins: Scotland Steps Up

Bearing the trophy of inventors, the Scotts conceived the idea of putting as early as the late 1800s. Though it might not match the intricate designs of today’s mini golf, it was undoubtedly a pioneering venture. Played on a mere few meters of yard, this miniature game of golf is a worthy contender for being the inaugural version of mini golf.

As the game gained popularity, players with limited space took an innovative path. They built courses on their rooftops, and by the early 1920s, this trend had spread across America’s skyline. By 1926, hundreds of rooftop golf courses peppered U.S. cities, marking the game’s ascendancy.

The Game Adapts: The Depression Era

The aftermath of World War 1 and the ensuing Great Depression affected humanity, and mini golf wasn’t immune. The economic constraint made it impossible to build premium courses. 

However, the enthusiasm for the game remained undeterred. Instead of surrendering, players tapped into their creativity, using raw materials on the streets to construct their unique courses.

This era saw the birth of ingenious designs, filled with unconventional obstacles that added a unique character to the game. The novel approach caught on quickly, and soon, a staggering 4 million people were wielding mini golf clubs across America.

A Paradigm Shift: New Twists Arise

In 1953, Don Clayton breathed fresh life into mini golf courses by introducing shorter holes, which rewarded skillful players with holes-in-one. He achieved this by incorporating metal rails to facilitate precision bounces and promote unique gameplay.

This concept resonated well with the market, gaining international popularity. Various organizations added their spin to the game, introducing animated hazards, rotating ramps, windmills, and flashing lights.

Modern Mini Golf: Immersive Experiences and Cultural Relevance

With advancements in technology and course design, mini golf transitioned into a more immersive and high-tech affair. Indoor courses emerged, often within family entertainment centers, and became the latest rage.

Incorporating themes from pop culture, like movies, sports, and video games, allowed mini golf courses to reach a broader audience and stay relevant to the times. 

Today, this miniature version of golf is cherished by people of all ages worldwide, even spawning into a competitive sport, complete with professional players, organized tournaments, and creative course designs.

Mini golf has come a long way since its rudimentary days in the Scottish backyards. It continues to flourish, innovate, and engage players in its unique, fun-filled way.

Try Your Hand at Mini Golf With Monster Mini Golf

A neon decoration at a Monster Mini Golf location.

Now that you’ve learned the captivating history of mini golf, why not experience it for yourself at Monster Mini Golf? Visit us today and discover the magic of indoor mini golf, a bowling alley, arcade games, and so much more!


The invention of mini golf is not attributed to a single person. However, the first known U.S. course was constructed by James Barber in North Carolina in 1916. With mini golf vs. putt putt often used interchangeably, it is believed that the term “putt putt” was coined by Don Clayton.

The roots of mini golf are in Scotland. The Ladies Putting Club of St. Andrews, established in 1827, is one of the earliest known mini golf courses. However, there are suggestions of similar games dating back even earlier, found in China between 937 and 975 A.D.

Miniature golf gained massive popularity in America during the early 20th century. 

But more recently, with newer advancements such as indoor glow-in-the-dark mini golf courses, it’s been established that Monster Mini Golf is one of the best birthday party places and fun gathering options for family fun. 

As such, miniature golf continues to be one of the most popular activities.