A: While you're no doubt familiar with today's freeway-adjacent, miniature-golf monstrosities, you should know they're nothing like their early predecessors. In the early 20th century, "garden golf" was introduced by professional golfers looking for a way to replicate the sport on a smaller scale. In other words, they played on real grass with real putters.
Later, the game added artificial turf, a few bumpers here and there, and voila! Suddenly, putter-wielding Americans everywhere had mini-golf fever. In the 1920s, roughly 30,000 miniature courses opened, with 150 rooftop courses cropping up in New York City alone. But when the Depression hit, the courses' expensive upkeep spelled trouble for the sport.
To survive, entrepreneurs resorted to building what were known as "Rinkiedink" courses. Far from its swank beginnings, these "greens" were populated with ingeniously inexpensive obstacles such as old tires, wagon wheels, rusty stove-pipes, and rain gutters. Amazingly, the cheap-skate decision paid off. Today, some 50,000 mini-golf courses later, children continue to relish in the only birthday-party locale alternative to McDonald's, bowling alleys, and skating rinks.