Mini golf memories at Wee St. Andrew

A modern course — one of the then new-fangled Putt-Putt variety — might have been classier, but we all loved the aging old entertainment destination.

Wee St. Andrews was Disneyland for Cliffites

One of the most popular teen hangouts in the 1950s and ’60s was Wee St. Andrews Miniature Golf Course.

The top-40 hit songs resonated throughout the course, while at the same time an aura of quiet permeated the old place. Replica bridges, castles and doghouses were sprinkled about, and colored lights bedazzled the foliage and trees. A modern course — one of the then new-fangled Putt-Putt variety — might have been classier, but we all loved the aging old entertainment destination.

Wee St. Andrews Miniature Golf Course rested on the acreage now anchoring the Grand Estates apartment complex, at the intersection of Tilden and North Beckley. In its heyday, it was one of the most enchanting places around. Players challenged each other fiercely, scaling all the ups and downs of the course and pushing hard to get those treasured holes-in-one — or the lowest score, which awarded the winner a “free admission” ticket.

Jerome K. Dealey opened the mini-course in the 1930s, building it on what Dealey’s son, Dallas attorney Sam Dealey, describes as “a gigantic city block that was owned by my grandmother, Vergie Dealey” — where she also lived.

With the exception of Jerome Dealey’s World War II service period, when his sister managed the place in his absence (and brought in the SMU crowd), he continued running the business until the 1950s. After that, he leased the course to another operator.

There were actually two courses at Wee St. Andrews. One featured green-carpeted fairways. The other offered “dyed sawdust over a clay base, which was the preferred medium,” Sam Dealey says. “Dad used large rollers filled with water to pack it down smooth.”
Like other mini-courses, clubs and balls were furnished free with admission. Small tables and chairs were nestled into the terrain, allowing patrons to enjoy the concession items offered for sale at the snack bar, or to just rest for a while.

The layout of the course wound over the acreage’s hilly terrain, and scaling all of the uneven topography could be considered at least a soft workout. With its heavily treed landscape along with the colored lights and gentle breezes, it was sort of like being in another world. At least, it seemed that way at the time. If sweethearts could manage to show up at night, when most of the kiddies weren’t there, it was a fairly romantic destination.

“To those of us that can remember,” says Mike Atwood (Kimball ’65), “it was more like a Disneyland, not unlike the real Disneyland is to our grandkids today, of lights and magic and quiet … peacefulness … and a time to enjoy being with your date.”

Julia Jones Laxson (Sunset ’65) remembers Wee St. Andrews as “the main place to play miniature golf in our neighborhood until Putt-Putt opened on Ft. Worth Avenue.” But Wee St. Andrews was better, she says, “because it was built on hills and was tree-shaded. The other courses were flat. I remember the colored lights and that last two-tiered hole with the windmill with the turning blades. What a rush!”

Julia’s husband, Tom Laxson (Adamson ’59), remembers “the concrete animals they had all over the hills and behind the holes — lots of giraffes and elephants — big enough for teenagers to climb on and sit.”

Jerome’s father, Samuel David Dealey Sr. (born in Liverpool in 1869), opened a local lumber business in Oak Cliff in 1888 before establishing Dealey Realty Company in 1908. While he served on the Dallas school board, his older brother, George Bannerman Dealey, was the publisher of the Dallas Morning News and functioned as a prominent civic leader. Dealey Plaza on the west edge of downtown Dallas, named for George, opened in 1933, with the bronze statue of the honoree added in 1949.

Samuel David Dealey Jr., third son of Samuel Sr. and Vergie Dealey (and brother of Wee St. Andrews’ owner, Jerome), was born in 1906. He graduated from Oak Cliff High School (now Adamson) and two years later entered the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1930. In 1942 Dealey was the first and only commander of the new submarine USS Harder, leading in six highly successful South Pacific patrols — but with a fatal last mission. His WWII service earned him two presidential unit citations, a Purple Heart, four Navy Crosses and the Medal of Honor.

In 1953 the U.S. Navy named a destroyer escort in Dealey’s honor, and in 1994, a neglected Dealey-honoring plaque was moved from Galveston to the Science Place in Fair Park. Sam Dealey Drive, in Kessler-Stevens, is also named for the Oak Cliff naval hero.

For the generations of Cliffites that putted away many seasons at Wee St. Andrews, myself included, few of us were aware of the rich heritage surrounding those rolling mounds of carpet and sawdust fairways, crazy obstacle configurations and lighted foliage. It was history in our midst, but we never knew.

COMMENT: Share your memories about Wee St. Andrews in the comments section below.


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  • Rinda Thomas

    I suggested that my fiance and I build a course like that…. I’m going to look into it…. already have scoped out the potential property. …

  • Rinda Thomas

    Got any pictures?

  • Rinda Thomas

    Ray, I’m not sure if my previous comment went thru… so trying again. … did you ever get any pictures? I’d love to see them…. i loved that place. … only went once as a teen. … wanted to go with my fiance, if it were still there. … but, would love to at least show him pictures. …

  • Ray Petty

    I’ve been looking for a write-up and hopefully a map of the course layout!! My parents, Carl and Gerry Petty (now deceased) met for their first date at Wee St. Andrews and they took our family there on more than one occasion. In high school I took Lynette Farr — now my lovely wife of 41 years — there, not on our first date — but on several memorable ones. We both graduated from TJ in 1968. If anyone knows more or has photos or news articles, I’d love to see those. Email raypetty@aol.com
    Thanks for the memories!! BTW, I believe the 18th hole on the sawdust side (by far the best IMHO) was 3-tiered, not 2. I made several holes in one there!

    rp

  • Rogergibson

    For the record, the team that played at Burnett Field was the Dallas Eagles.   Went to many games and for a long time, could name all the players.  Players weren’t traded as often.  Still remember some, Joe Macko on first, Dave Hoskins in Left, and Tommy Bowers pitching.  Joe Macko was later a coach for the Texas Rangers.  Seems as if his son was also a coach with the Rangers.  And Miss Inez on Organ who would play 3 blind mice  when an umpire would make a bad call and folks were shouting at the ump.  Recently an organist was evicted from a major league game for playing 3 blind mice.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Glad you have such great memories of Wee Saint. It WAS a great place with a lot of charm. Wasn’t it wonderful to be able to safely roam the Cliff back in those days. Nothing to worry about. Fun! Lots of friends! Good times!  Thanks for posting.

  • Rbarrwest

    I remember Wee St. Andrews fondly.  Before I could drive and was interested in girls my mother would drop my friends and I off  at Wee St. Andrews.  We would play each course once and then walk over to Burnett Field to watch the Rangers.  She would pick us up after the game.  For a 12 to 15 year old there just wasn’t a better way to spend a summer afternoon and evening.

  • Zcaschumannb

    i worked at Wee St. Andrews

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Thanks for your comments, Mike, and I’m glad to hear about all the “free passes” you managed to win! Free stuff is ALWAYS good. The OJ stand was actually on Zang Blvd., right next to the Polar Bear.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Amy! It’s great to hear from you. And, I’m sorry you’ve not been able to visit Big D for so long. We’d love to see you. My mother also graduated from AHS, in Jan. of 1936. We have that in common, among other things. Glad you get a slight respite from life by reading the columns. Post anytime. Gayla

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Preston, I think John (above) has all the info on the swimming pool. The Polar Bear ice cream store was right across the street, and, well, fairly close to WSA mini golf. Today, I’d probably think the walk was too far. But, back in the day…..no so. We were all younger then! Thanks for posting.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Yes, Raenell…those were the days to remember! There are probably a slew of Oak Cliff folks who would LOVE to again have a big glass of OJ from that o.j. stand.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Charlotte, I think everyone who played there feels the same way. It’s a shame that some things just aren’t here any longer.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    The name of the place on West Jefferson was Shady Brook, I think. Someone put a photo of what’s left of it on the Boomers page today. I think the “new” Putt-Putt was on Ft. Worth Avenue. Thanks for posting, Mary. 

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    John, Thanks for posting. I would be interested in knowing more about your gg grandfather. Email me at gkokel@advocatemag.com. Thanks!
    @advocatemag:disqus 

  • John_binford

    the pool was a public pool at Lake Cliff Park there at Zang and Colorado.    Polar Bear was across the street.   Zang was named after my great great grandfather.   I loved playing golf at Wee St. Andrews, although it closed when I was a teen.  What great memories of Oak Cliff!
    – John Binford, Sunset ’82 

  • Preston Johnson

    Yes! Polar Bear ice cream brings brings back delicious memories; however, I don’t recall it being in close proximity to Wee St. Andrews. We would go swimming at a public pool that was probably as large as a football field and then walk over to Polar Bear ice cream. What was the name of that huge swimming pool? I have “fond” memories of diving off the high dive and belly-busting! Preston Johnson

  • Raenell Horn Davis

    Great Story –  It brings back many memories as Wee St. Andrews was the place I learned to play minature golf in the 60’s.  After the golf it was to Polar Bear or Orange Julius for a snack. Those were the days to remember.

  • Charlotte Whitney

    Oh, how I do remember Wee St Andrews – spent many enjoyable evenings there in the 60’s.  I believe it was the best miniature golf course that I ever played.

  • Mary Newton Maxwell

    Great article and history of old Oak Cliff days.  I played at Wee St. Andrews twice and thought it was far superior to the shady little putt putt on Jefferson Ave.  As always, my friend, you have taken us back down memory lane.

  • Easrere

    Loved the story, Gayla.  It wasn’t only Cliffies that enjoyed that course.  I grew up in (Highland Park), and Sundays were our days with our Father.  He would take us to Cowboy games at the Cotton Bowl (end zone was only $3), and, more often than not, would take us to Wee St. Andrews for a round of miniature golf.  Holes in one were causes for great celebration, and afterwards, on our way back to the Park Cities, we would stop at the Prince of Hamburgers on Lemmon for a burger and a shake, to Ashburn’s on Knox for a cone, or to Dairy Queen for a dipped cone.
    I’m just wondering when you’re doing your story on Mistletoe Boot Company?  That was the only place to buy Cowboy boots back in the day!

  • acunnin

    Thank you again, Gayla, for a bit of time taken away from my more adult and stressful life to remember who we all used to be.  Wee St. Andrews is another of those places where my mother’s and my teenaged years collided in Oak Cliff.  She graduated from Oak Cliff High (Adamson) in 1933 and the miniature golf course played a big role in her memories.  It was also a place where my father taught me how to play miniature golf (that went much better than my attempts to play baseball) and we always finished the night with black walnut ice cream for him and a chocolate malt for me at Polar Bear.  Then there were the wonderful yet angst filled teenage excursions!  I haven’t lived in Dallas since leaving for college, so it makes me sad to realize Wee St. Andrews is no longer there.  
    Amy (Cloninger) Cunningham

  • Mcdream8

    Oh what memories.  Always there on Friday and Saturday nites with dates. Par on the sawdust course was 59 and I usually managed a 39 which was on the way to free pass. Afterwards a trip to the ‘Orange Julius’ for a great orange juice drink. (On Beckley I believe). Thanks for the memories. Mike Marlar

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Thanks ADVOCATE mag webmaster (Christy) for correcting Tom Laxson’s alma mater–for this online version. Leopards don’t like to be called Bison, or Golden Bears, or Knights, or Cowboys, or anything else. A leopard never looses its spots, right? Thanks!

  • SS

    The article mentions to two Wee St Andrews courses (the old carpet and the newer sawdust courses).  However, there was another course that predated these two on the same acreage but which fronted Beckley. Many of the monuments were still there as late as the mid 1960s. The landscape resembled the overgrown Mayan temple layout.
    I remember exploring the area following a round or two on the newer courses.
     
    Can someone with more gray hair help me out on this one?

  • Casual Observer

    One of my favorite things to do was to play a round at Wee St. Andrews and then hit the Polar Bear on the way home.  I really miss both of them!

  • Preston Johnson

    I am a Sunset grad ( January ’53 ). Had my first date with Bev ( Woodrow Wilson January ’54 ) at Wee St. Andrews 60 years ago! Double-dated with Allen Everts ( Sunset ’53 ). Bev and I have now been married for 56 wonderful years and reside in Dublin, Georgia. Wee St. Andrews holds many good memories…thank you Oak Cliff Advocate for this memory-jogging article! Preston Johnson

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    To let everyone know: Tom Laxson is an Adamson graduate, not a Bison. Please accept my apologies, Tom. I just hate it when these things happen.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Just to let everyone know: Tom Laxson is an Adamson graduate, not a Bison. Please accept my apologies, Tom. I hate it when these things happen.
    Gayla

  • Billmelton37

    Another great story Gayla!   Wee St. Andrews was a real fantasy land and always a date destination in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  It is missed!

  • Bob Hall

    Brings back great memories Gayla. Like most, I preferred the sawdust even after Putt-Putt opened. I played many a round at Wee St. Andrews and have driven by the old site when in Oak Cliff just to recall the good times spent there. Thanks for the article.

  • Bob Johnston

    I was always fascinated with the final hole, where the ball disappeared into the hole and ended up in the office!  That way they didn’t lose golf balls and didn’t have to go pick them up to restock.

  • Grossoneal

    Really enjoyed the story on Wee St. Andrews! During the summers of ’59, ’60 and ’61 David (Bumper) Jones and I (both Sunset ’62,) must have played there 50 times. then we moved on to Stevens Park Municipal. I live in Florida now, but can’t wait to come back to Dallas and see Stevens’ new renovation.

    Perry Gross, ’62

  • LON OAKLEY

    Never forget a first date with my still life long friend Dottie at Wee St.Andrews and “Hey, Hey Paula” playing in the background as we finished the course.  Magical times for sure and thanks so much Gayla for again sharing. You continue to hit HOME RUNS!   Lon Oakley – Big A ’65

  • Gayla, great “telling of the story” that is Wee St. Andrews.

  • John Byers

    Thanks for bringing back fond memories!

  • Charles “Benny” Kirtley KHS’60

    Wee St. Andrews was certainly a true icon of Oak Cliff. Probably if the truth was known it was a popular place for all regions of Dallas. Played there several times and it was a true test of hand eye cordination. Really good article Gala as always. Wee St. Andrews will always be a fond memory in everyones heart.