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Robert Taylor Sr., at 89; a pioneer of miniature golf

JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. -- Robert R. Taylor Sr., who with his brother Joseph helped revolutionize miniature golf by creating elaborate obstacles and custom courses, died Tuesday. He was 89.

Mr. Taylor, who worked as a leather sorter for Endicott Johnson Shoe Corp., was persuaded by a friend to invest in miniature golf. He built his first course in Williamsport, Pa. in the 1940s, and then capitalized on the game's increasing popularity.

The Taylors also built courses in Vestal, Endwell, Elmira, Camillus and Manlius, and their layouts featured pinball machines, lighthouses, wishing wells, and the ever-popular windmill. Their designs were so popular that the US military requested some courses be sent to units in Asia and Africa.

According to family members, the brothers rented a garage where they crafted courses, then took them to their destinations and constructed them on site.

Robert Taylor's son said the mini-golf business supplemented his father's income from Endicott Johnson and kept the family afloat.

''All the family used [the business] to better themselves," said Robert Taylor Jr., who said he remembers a Sunday when his father made $100 selling 10-cent games at Williamsport. ''Oh, he was a tickled man."

Friends and family said Robert Taylor enjoyed mini-golf because it brought families -- including his own -- together.

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