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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Putt-Putt on Perkins

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 10:37 PM

Putt-Putt in 1961
  • Putt-Putt in 1961
Mention Putt-Putt to most Memphians today, and they think of the miniature golf complex way out east, at Summer and Bartlett Road. And a fine place it is, too, with all sorts of entertainment available. I'm especially fond of the go-kart track, where you can find me most Saturday nights.

But back in the 1950s and 1960s, miniature-golf courses were considerably more basic. Just a few twists and turns in the course, maybe a few hoops to get the ball through. And you played golf, and that was it. No driving ranges or arcades or water slides or anything like that. And one of those early Putt-Putts was located on Perkins, close to Southern and the railroad tracks — pretty much where CK's Coffee Shop stands today.

I remember this place, mainly for the bright-orange borders along the astroturf "fairways," but I wasn't able to find a photo of it until now, when I was leafing through a White Station High School yearbook from the early 1960s. Not a very clear picture, but it's all I've got. Notice that the caption says this was "the best course in Memphis" and the Spartans shown here seem to be having one heckuva good time.

Then one day it was gone, replaced over the years with an International House of Pancakes (or some kind of pancake joint), a Johnny Rockets, maybe some other establishments. I wonder what they did with that neat "PUTT PUTT" sign that served as the obstacle on the last hole?

It's certainly a far cry from places like Goofy Golf, which had opened about this time down in Panama City, Florida, where miniature golfers wandered through a jungle maze, their putting skills challenged by giant dinosaurs, apes, whales, and other creatures. But hey, this wasn't the Miracle Strip — this was Memphis, where you played a hot game of golf and then cooled off with a milkshake at Shoney's. Well, I sure did, anyway.

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