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St Andrews Ladies Putting Club
At the famous St Andrews golf course in Scotland, the caddies laid a small putting area out. During quiet times a few ladies would play.
Evidentally there was some tension between these ladies and the caddies, so much so that a Mr D.L. Burns had a 9 hole course laid out as a 'miniature links' by Old Tom Morris, and so the St Andrews Ladies Golf Club was formed in 1867.
The first competition occured in 1867 with a gold locket as first prize and a silver pebble brooch as second. These are still played for annually.
The club flousrished at one point it claimed over 400 lady members and 200 associate Gentleman members. History records a umber of romantic matches being made at the club, so it might also be considered the precursor to the modern dating agencies as well!
The owner of the Fairyland Inn hotel, already operated a real golf course. In the late 1920's he decided to open a miniature one. His wife Frieda believed it was meant to distract the 'golf widows'.
This course was different however, it had gnomes and hollow tree trunks and other 'obstacles' meant to complement the Never Never Land atmosphere of his hotel.
This brainchild became a fad, by 1930 it was reported that there were 25,000 mini golf courses in the USA.
This initial craze died down, but the baby boomers sparked a resurgance. Nowadays there are around 5000 mini courses in the US.
The Chinese Claim
There is a game in a chinese book dating from around AD945 describing a prominent chinese magistrate instructing his daughter to 'dig holes in the ground so that he might knock a ball into them with a purposely crafted stick'. Obviously this can't have been golf, because the Scots invented that, so obviously this must have been crazy golf.