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Tom Thumb miniature golf

Here’s an ad from the May 27 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a new miniature golf course near the Old Mill:

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The 1930 Toronto city directory contains no mention of a Tom Thumb golf course, but it does mention the Old Mill Athletic Grounds, which included a miniature golf course, tennis, bowling, and badminton.

When I looked at the 1931 directory, I discovered that Tom Thumb miniature golf courses were something of a fad, to put it mildly. They had sprouted up everywhere, including the Old Mill. Rather than type them all out, I’ll include a screen shot of their listings in the directory (this is under “Tom”, so only “Thumb” is listed):

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By my count, there were 17 Tom Thumb miniature golf courses in operation, under five different proprietors (not counting the nearby Tom Thumb Lunch). The fad proved short-lived: by 1932, there were only four Tom Thumb courses still listed in the directory, at 759 Crawford, 1692 Dufferin, 164 Lake Shore Road, and 563 1/2 Parliament. In 1933, there were no Tom Thumb courses listed.

The 1932 directory no longer lists the Old Mill Athletic Grounds either, though it lists the Old Mill Golf Course. I’m not sure whether it was a miniature golf course or a full course. By 1933, this was gone too.

Searching for “Tom Thumb miniature golf” on the Internet turned up a few sources – apparently, they were a huge fad everywhere.

  • There is a Smithsonian Magazine article on Tom Thumb courses. By the summer of 1930, there were an estimated 25,000 miniature golf courses in the United States, over half of which had been built that year.
  • There is an article on Tom Thumb miniature golf in Ottawa. Twelve courses were opened there in 1930.
  • There is Pathé video footage of a Tom Thumb course in Toronto. The background suggests that this is the 9-15 Adelaide West course.

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