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Putt Putt Minature Golf, Percival Road at Forest Drive: 1970s   13 comments

Posted at 1:04 am in historic,stores

I'm afraid I went to take this set of pictures about 15 years too late. I think if I had taken them in 1993, you would be able to look at them and say "yep, I can see that was a Putt-Putt course". It not having occurred to me to do that then, you're just going to have to take my word for it now.

In the 1970s, the corner of Percival Road & Forest Drive was, if not a thriving retail hub, at least a viable one. The lot had a strip mall of sorts with a number of businesses. I think the largest was some sort of mini-grocery which was a size up from the 7-11 model, but not quite big enough to be the "country store" type. There was also a barber shop (which survived the longest, I believe). I'm not sure if the Carraige House strip-club had started then, or if that building (now Liquids) was some other retail.

Across the parking lot from the grocery, a few feet further down Percival, was the Putt-Putt course. "Minature golf" is the generic name for the sport while "Putt-Putt" is a specific brand. At the time, it was a fairly famous name (always struggling to make sure it wasn't used generically like Xerox and Kleenex) and its orange bordered courses tried to put some seriousness into the sport. Putt-Putt branded courses tended to eschew most of the whimsy of minature golf. They concentrated on making holes tricky through banks, caroms, dips, plateaus and hills rather than shooting through windmills or around dinosaurs. In retrospect, that may have been a mistake. I think people like whimsy on a minature golf course, and since it costs nothing to come up with your own ideas for holes, it's unclear what benefit paying Putt-Putt for a franchise gets you and in recent years, Putt-Putt has seemed to struggle, with parks closing on Clemson Road and in Augusta.

I don't recall that this particular course was ever really popular, but it was close enough that I could ride my bike there, which I remember doing the only time I ever played the course. It was, I believe the longest bike ride I ever took in Columbia (not that it was far in absolute terms, but my parents were very against our riding on main streets, and this was the first time they had let me cross Trenholm). At any rate, I rode up with a school friend, and we played a few rounds, and I think had a coke at the store. No big story there, I'm afraid. This would have been around 1974, and the course folded a few years after that. At first, they left the greens pretty much alone, but at some point they came in and ripped up all the carpet and frames, just leaving the concrete beds. I'm not sure why, unless they thought the lot would be easier to sell that way. If so, it was unsuccessful. The strip mall was torn down several years after Putt Putt closed, and I'm sure the owners thought that with the Interstate coming through, they could get a good price for the lot, but nothing seems to have happened so far.

I think they would get more interest if it had had dinosaurs and windmills.

Here's standing in the mall parking lot looking over at the Putt-Putt parking lot:

Here's standing in the Putt-Putt parking lot looking at the back of Liquids (towards Forest Drive):

Looking from the Putt-Putt parking lot towards the old "greens":

Standing on one of the old greens (concrete base):

Another old green:

Standing on an old green, looking at what appears to be a wild pyracantha:

Standing on a green looking towards Percival Road:

Standing on the shoulder of Percival Road, looking back into the course:

Looking down into the course from just past Liquids:

UPDATE 15 Aug 2009: Added scans of Putt Putt matchbook provided by commenter Melanie.

Written by ted on May 26th, 2008

13 Responses to 'Putt Putt Minature Golf, Percival Road at Forest Drive: 1970s'

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  1. This is awesome. I grew up close to the their and remember it well. It was popular with my older siblings. It closed in the early 80s so I didn't get to go there. I did play at the Putt Putt on Devine (where the bi-lo is now) and the one on St andrews(close to the goodwill).

    Mr Bill

    26 Jun 08 at 4:31 pm

  2. oops meant to say close to there.

    Mr Bill

    26 Jun 08 at 4:31 pm

  3. Mr. Bill - I remember the Putt Putt on Devine. Played there till they closed around 1990. There was also one on Knox Abbott Drive.

    FirstDennis

    21 Aug 08 at 11:03 am

  4. Wow, this was another landmark I was going to ask about, and you've already got it listed. We lived just down the street from here on Arbor Drive from about 66 to 72. I was 6 when we moved, but I remember going there. Who didn't love making a hole-in-one, and then turning toward the office to see if your colored ball was lighted up for a free pass.
    As you can tell, anything around Forrest Acres brings back memories. Anyone remember the Dairy Queen that was located around there? I think it was on Forrest Drive about where Hardee's is now. How about the Yogi Bear place on Two Notch, or Drakes Duck In, or the Hungy Bull that was located at the old corner of Decker and Trehnolm. Lord, I could go on-and-on.

    Hal

    4 Sep 08 at 6:43 pm

  5. Was the Hungry Bull that big steakhouse? I think it was built as some steakhouse chain then went independent. They had a piano and a lady who played one night a week for the senior crowd.

    FirstDennis

    4 Sep 08 at 8:10 pm

  6. It was very much like a Sizzler Steak House. You went down the line with your tray, grabed your silverware, grabed your drink, picked out your jello, and ordered your steak. This was before salad bars where everywhere, and way before food bars, (a.k.a. human troughs).
    Trehnolm Rd. use to be just a two lane rd, and there was a whole lot at the corner next to Dent middle school. It was located there between Dent and Trehnolm. When they widened Trehnolm they torn down the building and the lot was used up by the new large intersection. There was a McDonald's directly across the street from the Trehnolm and Decker intersection, but when they built the Trehnolm extinsion the McDonald's was torn down and moved up to where it is now, by Columbia Mall. Which is next to the Sub Station that used to be Shakey's Pizza way back when.

    Hal

    4 Sep 08 at 9:08 pm

  7. I do remember the Dairy Queen, and it was near the Hardees (as was the Pizza Hut that burned down). We never ate at the DQ, but I was very aware of it because DQ was running a national ad campaign featuring Dennis The Menace and his little pal Joey, and Joey had a tag line that always caught my ear for some reason:

    Yeah, Dennis -- Like a Super-brazier chilli-dog!

    ted

    4 Sep 08 at 10:48 pm

  8. anyone know anything about that water park with the big slide that used to be on Two Notch Rd near Columbia Mall until it closed in the 80s? Until about 1995 I believe the slide could still be seen from the street on the side of the hill

    Joe

    23 Nov 08 at 2:58 pm

  9. A lot of people ask about that. I went looking one day arounde where I thought it was, and didn't find anything.

    ted

    23 Nov 08 at 5:56 pm

  10. I remember going to the one by St. Andrews in the mid-to-late 70s as a kid in grade school. It seems like there was a Thursday night special along the lines of "All the Putt Putt you wanted for a buck", and when we got bored we would start throwing crickets at the bug zapper. (Forgive me, that's as far as my torture small animals streak went; and I am not a serial murderer or arsonist.)We were 10 year old boys for crying out loud. Great memories of the outings in any event.

    David

    6 Jan 09 at 9:26 am

  11. Joe- The place you are talking about was originally called "SuperSlide", I think. I went there as a kid, and the last thing I heard was that someone had gotten severely injured (or killed) when they fell off of one of the slides. Needless to say, it closed down right after that. That was probably in the mid- 80s, but you could see the remnants of the slides for many years after.

    Cameron

    10 Mar 10 at 3:17 pm

  12. Putt-Putt used to have a national tour and televised pro tournaments broadcast on maybe ABCs Wide World of Sports ("the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat" ski jumper crashing)

    JBL

    1 Jul 10 at 2:26 am

  13. The Putt - Putt course at Percival Rd was a very thriving and successful miniature golf course. Angelo Staikos and his great wife Gladys managed the three Putt - Putts in the Columbia. They were located at Knox Abbot Dr, Percival Rd and St Andrews Rd. Opened in the 60s and closed in the early 80s if I remember right. Almost every Monday during the summers of my high school years, my best friend Larry and I would ride from South Beltline, through Fort Jackson to the Putt - Putt. There were numerous tournaments and fun activities. The highlight for Putt - Putt in Columbia was hosting the Professional Putters Southern Open in 1973. Over a hundred putters from throughout the nation converged on the St Andrews Putt - Putt in Columbia to attempt to qualify for the World Putting Championship and the $50,000 first prize. I was a pro at that time and unfortunately did not qualify. There were tournaments held at the various courses throughout the summer.

    The peculiar thing about the course at Percival Rd was that it built on top of a creek. A culvert ran under the course and when it rained hard, the course would flood and we would help clean it up.

    Gary

    17 Aug 12 at 7:30 pm

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