Sunday, August 07, 2005

Safari Joe's Miniature Golf

Miniature golf started out as literally that, a complete scaled down version of actual existing links of the late 1800s. It wasn't until 1927 when Garnet Carter built a course on Lookout Mtn in Tennessee that the game came into its own. Unlike previous courses, this one included the obstacles, barriers and challenges we relate to miniature golf even today. One of the best miniature golf sites I've seen yet is Simply Putt: Mini-golf is an Art Form. Researched and written by college student Jonathan Haeber, this site is a very interesting read. Along with some fantastic photos and scans, he has broken down the history of mini-golf into 5 distinct era's. Regarding the era that this featured mini-golf course fits into he says:

"Cultural Rennaisance (1950~1990): Creative cultural icons, courses reflected iconographic symbols of imagination, became more difficult and complicated. Multi-leveled, complex, unique, synthetic, family-oriented, mom-and-pop/individual ventures. The apogee of mini-golf as an art."

I grew up playing the courses of this era, where the mini-golf was a standalone facility. Some of my fondest summer vacation memories are of my family playing Goofy Golf on Santa Rosa Island, over the bridge from Pensacola, FL. You know, the one next to the water slide...another once independant attraction, now only financially viable when surrounded by 6 other massive slides, wave pools, curl riding and tanning beaches. But I digress. The mini-golf era of my youth has been completely overtaken by the next and current era, "Corporate Mini-Golf (1990-Present)". This includes all these mass-marketed family-targeted type facilities where the mini-golf is no longer an experience in itself, but rather simply a game amongst many. There are only 3 or 4 miniature golf courses remaining in business in Tulsa. Most of those are part of family entertainment centers.

I never played at Safari Joe's, or whatever it was called during it's heyday...but I'm sure that once upon a time, families like mine once played, laughed and made memories here.

Since the days when I first saw Logan's Run, I have always been fascinated with the idea of nature taking over urban ruins. One of the most striking set of pics I've ever seen was a abandoned rural Japanese amusement park nestled in the foggy mountains. The steel backbone of the rollercoaster still standing, rusting, decaying....the grass and trees overtaking everything. Enjoy the modern ruins.