Much-loved American putting game Putt-Putt turned 64 last week and is still going strong, which shows that the U.S. putting population’s answer to the question “Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four?” is a resounding “Yes!”
Some British readers might not be familiar with Putt-Putt, but rest assured it’s miniature golf, just a specific version of it that was commercialised and popularised in the USA in the 1950s. Here’s a bit of its history and one notable occurrence.
When the first Putt-Putt® course opened in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1954, the Putt-Putt mission statement was simple and honest: “To provide families with a safe, clean, wholesome entertainment venue where they can have an enjoyable experience for a reasonable cost in their own community.” A game cost 25 cents and the courses were standardised to give as equal a challenge as possible from one course to another. Doing away with windmills, fountains and other paraphernalia, they consisted of simple geometric shapes and standardised carpet and rails to give even roll and predictable bounce. The holes are designed so that a hole in one is always possible. So it’s a game of pure putting skill and judgement.
A franchise business right from the start, Putt-Putt courses spread quickly and became a household name in family entertainment. It is still possible to apply to become a Putt-Putt franchisee! Soon the brand had its own league, the Professional Putters Association (PPA) which still exists today and offers relatively substantial prize money.
Here’s a video we’ve shared before which not only shows what Putt-Putt holes look like, but also one of the very few occasions on which a player has hit 18 consecutive aces – the perfect game (see original post here). It’s a superbly made animated video that documents the most exciting moment in the putting career of an IT manager called Rick Baird.
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