Most of you have probably putted at Panama City’s Goofy Golf, one of the nation’s oldest and most recognizable mini golf courses.
Like most kids, my brother Doofus (not his real name but it should be) and I played the course as children and had our pictures made with some of the iconic attractions, such as the giant monkey. I’m not sure if we went more than once because our family typically vacationed at Jekyll Island, Ga., but we do have photos from 1969, when Doofus was 6 and I was 4.
In 1996, I took my 3-year-old Baby Girl and took her photo in the same monkey’s hand.
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History of Goofy Golf
In my book “Forgotten Tales of Tennessee,” I wrote about the first mass-produced golf courses that were developed by Garnet Carter, the creator of Rock City near Chattanooga, TN. He was the first to build courses that could be packaged and sold to owners across the country. Garnet had opened first course called Thistle Dhu, or “This’ll Do,” in Pinehurst, N.C. in 1917 before patenting his Tom Thumb courses, the first of which opened on Lookout Mountain in 1927.
The oldest surviving course from these early days is Parkside Whispering Pines in Irondequoit, N.Y.
Panama City’s Goofy Golf opened in 1959 on the Miracle Strip and has been in continual operation. It was built by Lee Koplin and is now run by his daughter, Michelle.
It’s website says “It’s mini golf with a bonus play-land!”
“The evening lighting includes the glowing eyes of giant monkeys and dinosaurs! There are giant statues that can be climbed for a view and others you can go inside.”
The course includes a Sphinx, an Easter Island Head, a Buddha, a volcano, various monsters, a monkey, a dinosaur, a castle, a rocket ship, and more. Although the attractions are refurbished regularly, the original figures have a quaint appeal. ResortCollections.com called it a “wacky retro course.”
Goofy Golf is open seven days a week on Front Beach Road. For info, call 850-234-6403. Share your Goofy Golf photos and memories.