The history of mini golf and the story of Paradise Island

What do Paradise Island Adventure Golf and the sport of miniature golf have in common? They both began in Scotland!

To celebrate National Miniature Golf Day this Saturday 11th May 2024, we’re exploring the Scottish origins of both Paradise Island and of the game itself.

Three people watch as a fourth prepares to hit a shot through a loop at Paradise Island Adventure Golf Plymouth.

Putting & pipes

The putting game – widely said to be the earliest form of mini golf and still played as a practice game today – was first played in Scotland back in the 1800s, and the Ladies Putting Club in St. Andrews is said to be home to the world’s oldest mini golf course. Early courses relied on scrap items such as old pipes, barrels, and tires to act as obstacles.

Teeing off stateside

The United States’ first mini golf course was developed by James Barber in 1916, cleverly named Thistle Dhu (a play on words, as in ‘this’ll do’).

By the end of the 1920s, mini golf had experienced a boom in popularity across the pond. New York City alone had 150 courses, many of which were situated on the rooftops of the city’s iconic skyscrapers. Unfortunately, most of these closed when the Great Depression hit.

Swinging into the 21st century…

In 2006, the first of eight Paradise Island Adventure Golf sites would open its doors at XSite (then known as XScape) at Braehead Shopping Centre, Glasgow.

One of the Tiki huts within Paradise Island Glasgow.

The vision for Paradise Island was to bring a premier indoor mini golf spot to Scotland. At the time of its opening, mini golf was still very much an outdoor activity – which doesn’t always make for a pleasant experience with the UK’s unpredictable weather! Paradise Island promised to invite the golfer indoors for an immersive adventure amidst a tropical oasis.

In 2008, Paradise Island Adventure Golf Manchester opened its doors in the Trafford Centre, becoming the first of six English venues. A second Scottish site within Livingston Designer Outlet opened in 2012, the same year in which our Sheffield site launched. Cheshire Oaks opened in 2015 and Derby in 2017, with both Plymouth and Rushden Lakes following in 2019. Eighteen years on from the birth of Paradise Island, we now have visitors up and down the UK enjoying our tropical brand of indoor adventure golf!

A tee-riffic evolution

From moving indoors to the introduction of ornate obstacles, mini golf has come a long way from the days of unpredictable weather and scrap metal. Today, you’ll find everything from courses with various theming to glow in the dark decor, such as our Cheshire Oaks octopus pictured below (fun fact – glow in the dark mini golf originated in Scandinavia as a result of their short, dark days).

A picture of the octopus at Paradise Island Adventure Golf Cheshire Oaks, painted with glow in the dark paint.

You can even make a day of your mini golf adventure as many facilities now have options for food and drink. We’re not biased, but we think our Bunker bar in Plymouth is pretty neat!

Fancy celebrating National Miniature Golf Day with us? Visit our website to find your nearest Paradise Island and book your tee time.






Five challenging mini golf holes at Paradise Island Adventure Golf

Mini golf is a fun activity which can make for a great day out. Part of that fun, however, is the challenging nature of the game. Whether you’re playing with friends, family, or your significant other, you’ll be surprised at how competitive even the quietest player can become on the course!

At Paradise Island Adventure Golf, we have our fair share of challenging holes. Keep reading to learn more about some of them – and use your newfound knowledge to beat your friends on your next visit!

Five challenging mini golf holes at Paradise Island Adventure Golf:

Hole number: 5

Course: Maggie McCaw’s Challenge 

Location: Glasgow

What makes it tricky: This is notoriously one of the most difficult holes across all eight Paradise Island sites. Hit it too softly and the ball will run back to your feet. Hit it too hard and you’ll be at the other side facing another tricky shot!

How can it be conquered? Speed and line have to be near perfect to get a par on this hole. A hole in one is possible, but focus on the speed to avoid a high score. You could also urge whoever you’re playing with to go first in order to watch and assess how hard to hit the ball(!). 

Hole number:

Course: Tiki Hut Trail

Location: Glasgow

What makes it tricky: This is a traditional adventure golf ‘risk/reward’ hole. Hitting the ball into the small entrance and subsequently sending it down the correct pipe may just result in a hole in one, however this is made difficult by the slope and narrow entrance. If you hit too hard or too soft, you’ll have to negotiate a putt among the rocks on the lower level.

How can it be conquered?

No laying up… go for it! Make sure you hit the ball hard enough to get up the slope – even if it goes down the wrong pipe, you still have the chance for a two or three. You might just get a hole in one if you’re accurate!

Hole number: 5

Course: Tiki Hut Trail

Location: Plymouth

What makes it tricky: Don’t be fooled by this short hole – it can be a real scorecard wrecker! It’s easy to underestimate the slope of the log ramp, or hit it too hard. 

How can it be conquered? If you don’t make it up the ramp first time, it’s best to take the safer route to avoid running up a higher number. Dare your playing partners to take on the difficult route and watch them crumble! Remember – eighteen holes is a marathon, not a sprint. This is a good chance to get a few shots up on your playing partners.

Hole number: 19

Location: Glasgow

What makes it tricky: Each Paradise Island Adventure Golf site has a nineteenth hole, giving players the chance to win a free game at the end of their round. Glasgow’s is arguably the most challenging due to the angle of the ramp, and the fact that the ball needs to be hit about twenty feet before it can reach the hole. 

How can it be conquered? Winning depends on accuracy – and just a little bit of luck – but it can be done! Don’t overthink it and give it a good whack. 

Hole number: 11

Course: Shark Bay

Location: Derby

What makes it tricky: Don’t be fooled by the lack of obstacles on this hole – the sheer length of it (over thirty feet!) makes it play consistently over its par. It can be difficult to get the correct momentum on the ball required for it to reach the hole without being repelled to the sides. Even if you get your first shot in or around the hole, a two or three is not guaranteed.

How can it be conquered? It’s all about speed on this one. Don’t be afraid to hit it past the hole as the kerb behind will act as a back stop, giving you a second chance of the ball entering the target.

These are only some of the challenging holes on offer at Paradise Island Adventure Golf. Keen to try them out for yourself? Visit our website to find your nearest site and book a visit!