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Atop Lookout Mountain

Beyond Augusta, Rock City adds to Georgia’s golf legacy

April 15, 2024

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If you’ve ever impressed a date with a mini golf hole-in-one, you have Rock City founder Garnet Carter to thank for it. 

In Lookout Mountain’s early days, years before Rock City, Garnet Carter’s first claim to fame was a putting game craze that swept the nation. 

The story goes that in 1926, Garnet, developer of the 700-acre Fairyland community atop Lookout Mountain, was growing anxious over construction delays. The neighborhood was coming along nicely, and the newly constructed Fairyland Inn hotel was ready for business. But the Fairyland Golf Course was facing delays, and Lookout Mountain’s residents and increasing number of visitors were growing impatient. 

Thinking quickly, Garnet made do with what he had, developing the world’s first miniature golf course, calling it Tom Thumb Golf. 

Outfitted with challenges and hazards, and of course, gnomes and elves, sticking with Fairyland’s magical theme, Tom Thumb golf stood out from other putting games of the day, which were merely practice greens. 

The game was an instant success, so much so that Garnet patented and franchised the game nationwide. 

Though the course is no longer around, it’s fun to remember a small slice of golfing history that created a fad enjoyed to this day. With the eyes of the golfing world on Georgia this month for the Masters Tournament, remember that Georgia’s golfing legacy extends beyond Augusta!