The little courses are gaining popularity both for a quick game and to attract new players to the sport.
It's the golf industry's answer to Little League.
Played on a diminutive course with a handful of clubs, pitch and putt golf has been gaining popularity with golfers because it's a quick, inexpensive way to squeeze in a few holes on a lunch hour or after work.
But it's also drawing the support of equipment manufacturers and professionals as a means to attract and train new golfers.
And that's one reason Jeff Burey is excited about Wakarusa Pitch and Putt Course near Eudora. When it opens April 1, the nine-hole layout will be Douglas County's first pure pitch and putt course.
``This is the trend,'' said Burey, a PGA golf professional and one of six shareholders in Twin Oaks Golf Complex Inc. ``Many of the pro tours and manufacturers are looking at this as the vehicle to introduce people to the game.''
Pitch and putt, which has been popular in Ireland for many years, differs from regulation golf in that the course is much shorter. While regulation holes can run 500 yards or more, the longest pitch and putt hole is about 90 yards. The entire length of the Wakarusa course is 615 yards. It should take about an hour to play.
There's another difference: There are about 15,000 full-size, regulation golf courses in the nation. But there are only about 100 pitch and putt courses. And that means opportunity.
Burey said his course's budget calls for 13,000 rounds of golf to be played each year. ``But realistically, I think we can double that,'' he said.
At $6 for children, $7 for seniors and $8 for adults, that could add up to as much as $200,000 in annual sales.
Because bits and pieces of the course have been added over the five years that Twin Oaks' driving range has been open, Burey said, it's difficult to say what the pitch and putt cost to build.
The clubhouse was built during that period; so was the parking lot. Irrigation systems had already been beefed up to handle the increased demand.
``But I'd say the basic construction cost of the golf course was about $200,000,'' he said.
Besides its lighted driving range, Twin Oaks also has a miniature golf course at its site east of Lawrence along Kansas Highway 10.
The city of Lawrence has spent $3.7 million building a new 18-hole regulation course southwest of the city. It's also set to open this year.
Wakarusa Pitch and Putt was built by H&H Golf of Olathe, ``just like they were building an Alvamar,'' he said.
The little course even has a golf pro. Gary Winters is moving to Wakarusa from a course in Blue Springs, Mo., Burey said.
``We're going to do an awful lot of instruction,'' Burey said.
-- Richard Brack's phone message number is 832-7194. His e-mail address is email@example.com.