A miniature golf craze gripped the city of Townsville in 1930, when two indoor facilities opened only a week apart. The first miniature golf links – reportedly the first of its kind in Queensland - opened in the Paramount Theatre in Flinders Street in December 1930 and was expected to “exert a fascination over every man, woman and child”.
1920s Flinders Street, showing Don McInnes’ Tattersalls Building, where the Hollywood Miniature Golf Links opened in 1930.
Photo: Townsville City Libraries.
The second facility, the Hollywood Miniature Golf links in Mr Don McInnes’ Tattersalls Building in Flinders Street, was soon embroiled in controversy.
The Townsville Daily Bulletin reported enthusiastically on the opening of the new attraction:
“This new and charming rendezvous is to be managed by two well known and popular young ladies, the Misses Jean and Doris McInnes, while Miss Edna Linton, herself a golf enthusiast, is to act as instructor.
There is no doubt at all that this course introduces something entirely novel in the way of miniature golf. The floor space in these premises is very large, and no difficulty has been experienced in laying out with the utmost convenience the 18 large holes.
The greens themselves are made of the best felt procurable, and when playing on them, there is nothing of the billiard table feeling - it is like putting on real luxurious turf. The hazards are novel and extraordinarily interesting, and full of surprises.
The 19th hole… takes the shape of a complete cafe and soda fountain, arranged in the middle of the course.”
The writer predicted the new venue would “become the Mecca of pleasure loving Townsville, young and old.”
But the new and charming rendezvous quickly attracted the wrath of Anthony Ogden, an Alderman of the Townsville City Council, who was well known for his passionate religious convictions and his opposition to all forms of gambling.
It is probable that Ogden, who had served as Mayor of Townsville from 1924 to 1927, took exception to the new game because there was prize money being offered for tournaments, which he considered to be a form of gambling. The Hollywood Miniature Golf Links even advertised games called “Putt for Profit” and “Putt-it-Poker”.
|Townsville Daily Bulletin, 4 March 1931.|
In a letter to the Editor of the Bulletin in March 1931, Don McInnes, whose daughters were running the miniature golf links next door to his tobacconist shop, took a swipe at Alderman Ogden and the Mayor, Alderman J.S. Gill, calling them the “guardians of public morality”.
Mr McInnes accused the pair of becoming hysterical over the miniature golf links because it was operating on Sundays.
“Alderman Gill actually came in after church and was horrified to find the place full. Empty churches and full golf links cannot be tolerated in Townsville,” Mr McInnes said.
By May 1931, the Hollywood Miniature Golf links was being sued by the City Council, because they had not applied to the council for a license to operate the premises. The case was thrown out of court, and the Council was ordered to pay costs of £5, 5 shillings.
In November that year, Mr McInnes sued Alderman Ogden for defamation, claiming damages of £1,000. McInnes claimed that at a council meeting in March, Ogden had called him a “systematic law breaker”, and had implied that he had bribed police in order to conduct illegal gambling behind his business premises.