Lilliputian Golf Rooted in Pinehurst

Mini Golf in North Carolina

Photographs of holes number 10 and 12 on “Thistle Dhu” course
that appeared in the August 1919 edition of Popular Science.

On January 26, 1918, James Barber and his wife gave a garden tea and held a miniature golf tournament for the local ladies of the Advertising Golf League.

According to the following week’s edition of the Pinehurst Outlook, which termed the game “Miniature Golf” in its headline, the course could be “negotiated with a well pitched mashie shot, and bends and curves calling for nice and discriminating slices and pulls.”

Like standard golf, the date and location of the invention of miniature golf remains the subject of debate. The Sandhills golf mecca, Pinehurst, is widely believed by many to be the ancestral home of miniature golf in the United States, and the January 1918 game may be one of the first mini golf games played in the country.

North Carolina Mini Golf Course Map

A map of “Thistle Dhe” course that appeared in the August 1919 edition of Popular Science.

Barber, a wealthy New Jersey shipping magnate, built one of the country’s first, if not the earliest, “Lilliputian” golf courses at his Pinehurst home. Called “Thistle Dhu,” by its owner, the course was constructed sometime between 1916 and 1918. It was designed by amateur architect Edward H. Wiswell and was located on the west side of the Barber’s stately mansion amidst its formal gardens.

Visit: The putting course at Pinehurst Resort in Moore County is named in honor of Thistle Dhu.

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