About Lomma Championship Miniature Golf Courses
From its beginning, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and during the entire depression, miniature golf spread like wild fire all over the country. Corner lots in most cities were covered with sawdust and "poor folks" had their own country clubs.
For the next decade and a half the sport grew into an estimated 40,000 courses. Even while other businesses were crumbling, miniature golf exploded with popularity. It wasn't until the second world war that lack of personal leisure time caused the industry's first downswing.
It took two entrepreneurs from Scranton, Pennsylvania to breathe fresh life into this once dynamic industry. Ralph and Al Lomma, brothers, opened their first miniature golf course in Scranton in the early 1950's. The immense popularity of their local course caused them to open several others.
By 1955 Lomma Miniature Golf was in the business of selling miniature golf courses to the general public. One of the brothers, Al, toyed with the motors, gears, belts, and moving parts which could block the path of a well-struck putt. These obstacles proved to be the secret of the immense success attained by the Lommas.
As the oldest and largest manufacturer of miniature golf courses in the world, with over 5,000 courses sold worldwide, Ralph Lomma , and his brother Al, are credited as being the "fathers of modern-day miniature golf". Just one of the Lomma's inventions was the placing of a clown's face at the end of the game... Where the lucky customer could win a free game by hitting the clowns nose. This last shot also served as the owners' control, as the balls were locked inside the obstacle and the balls played were electronically counted.
Since many of Lomma's customers are absentee owners, this crowd pleasing chance to win a free game, also gave the owner the best control over cash revenue.
Because miniature golf is a non-inventory, non-commodity business, the cash revenues stay with the owner. Operators of courses are basically renting "air", and don't have inventory to replace. In most cities, the cost of one movie ticket would allow a family of four to play miniature golf. It is also one of the few events the entire family can participate in together.
The game is good exercise for senior citizens, helps establish motor skills for young children, and is tons of fun for everyone in between.
Almost five decades ago, Ralph Lomma, founder and President of the company bearing his name, started another new industry ... indoor miniature golf. In 1989, a third of Lomma's business, was indoor courses. This does not include a large number of Lomma operators who have outdoor locations, but move their courses indoors for the winter. Having an indoor location assures the owner of a 12 month income. While most of Lomma's indoor operators are in the north, in the southwest many operators insist on inside locations because it is too hot outside for their customers. Lomma has placed courses in every conceivable type of indoor location... from shopping malls, to federal penitentiaries.
Lomma's professional design department is especially helpful for those customers with unusual indoor locations. As an example, they have covered steel support posts with burlap and placed artificial palm tree leaves at the top giving the appearance of a row of tropical palm trees in the golf course area, instead of bland, obtrusive support columns. Lomma has also had many indoor operators contact the arts departments of local high schools and colleges, and held contests for wall mural designs they like best, pay for the paint, and have the students cover the walls of the miniature golf course with scenic outdoor designs.
This kind of after market support is one of the reasons behind Lomma's phenomenal success... and the reason that almost a third of Lomma's large annual business comes from referrals from happy operators. Lomma has always felt that success does not mean selling a golf course to an individual. Success in having that individual be happy enough with your product that for years after they have purchased it, are willing to recommend your product and company to other people.
What others are saying about Lomma
- Golf Range Times Magazine - Interesting article about Lomma Golf in other countries.
- Happy Birthday Lomma Championship Miniature Golf Courses
- What is Miniature Golf?
- a short history on Ralph Lomma
- Miniature Golf History