Wouldn't that vine heart be a beautiful entrance to a home? Oh yes!
In 1926 one Frieda Carter, co-owner, with husband Garnet, of The Fairyland Inn in the Lookout Mountains, created the first miniature golf course.
Sure a few others had tried their hand at minigolf before Frieda, most notably Drake Delaney and John N. Ledbetter who created minigolf on the rooftops of buildings downtown Manhattan as a lunch diversion for overwrought brokers eager to unwind. But due to Delaney’s “unlawful antics” the course closed quite rapidly.
The 20s were a wild time when Prohibition waged and prosperity was at its highest. Entrepreneurs were looking for any get-rich-quick scheme. Wacky fads were pervasive: flagpole sitting, goldfish eating, dance marathons, Ouija boards, to name a few.
But it is Frieda, an artist who was amazing sharp at mathematics that started the ball rolling. She added her two-by-four course as an amusement for women and children while the husbands on vacation at her Never-Never Land trotted off to the “real” course at the back of the property. Many imitators grew from Frieda’s little idea. Rich folks constructed private backyard courses. Public courses were tucked onto every little open odd lot to be found.
Then the market crashed, 1929.
But minigolf grew. By 1930 there were between 25, 000 and 50,000 putt-putt courses all over the nation, representing an investment over $250,000. There was a trade magazine, “Miniature Golf Management.” And even a song “I Went Goofy Over Miniature Golf.” Maybe people couldn’t do elaborate things but they could spare a quarter for a game of minigolf.
Minigolf survives to this day. The old courses have the best obstacles. Unfortunately the trend in new courses is a simple green with no obstacles. The sculpture motifs sit off the greens. Too bad.
So there you have it. Minigolf helped people keep their heads together when all seemed lost. So go play a game, call it mental refreshment.
Rebecca A. Barrington