- Ladies' Putting Green, aka The Himalayas
- 1867 first
- United Kingdom (St Andrews)
The first documented miniature golf course was the nine-hole (nowadays 18-hole) Ladies' Putting Green, aka The Himalayas, at the world-famous St Andrews Links in Fife, Scotland, UK, which was established in 1867 and remains open to this day.
The Ladies' Putting Green was created by golfer and golf course designer Thomas Mitchell Morris (aka Old Tom Morris) after calls for a dedicated area for female golfers to play. It was established at a strict time in Victorian Britain when it was frowned upon for a woman to swing a club above her shoulders or neck in public. A scaled-down version that required less extreme putting shots was therefore deemed socially acceptable and allowed female golfing fans some access to the sport. The first women-only competition was held in 1867 with first prize a gold locket and second prize a silver brooch; these original prizes are still competed for to this day. By 1900, St Andrew's Links Club had 400 female members.
The development from a putting green to a more challenging game with obstacles (i.e., what we generally associate with "mini golf" or "crazy golf" today) arose in the early 20th century. A boxed game called "Golfstacle", a cross between golf and croquet that included obstacles such as tunnels and bridges, was patented by British Army colonel William Senhouse Clarke in 1907. Mini golf was born in the USA with the creation of a private course in Pinehurst, North Carolina, by shipping magnate James Barber in 1916; the course was called "Thistle Dhu" (pronounced "This'll do"). The 1920s saw an explosion of mini/crazy golf courses; in 1926, public courses were established in the seaside town of Skegness, Lincolnshire, UK, and in Hamburg, Germany, by Fr. Schröder (the latter thought to be the first such course in mainland Europe).
St Andrews is also home to the oldest golf course overall, first established in 1552. Although this is the oldest site associated with the modern-day sport of golf, there are earlier claims to similar golf-like games including "colf" played in the streets and fields of Belgium and the Netherlands in the 13th century, and before that a game referred to as "chuiwan" ("chui" meaning "to hit" and "wan" meaning "ball) in the Dongxuan Records when a Chinese magistrate of the Nantang Dynasty (937–975 CE) asked his daughter "to dig holes in the ground so that he might knock a ball into them with a purposely crafted stick" c. 945 CE.