The Vinland Natural Nine is not a run-of-the-mill golf course. There is no perfectly manicured bright green grass, sprinklers, or golf carts, and that is how owner Richard Morantz likes it.
Morantz, an acupuncture specialist with an office in Lawrence, got the idea to create a golf course after using the controlled-burn method to maintain the prairie on his property near Vinland, between Lawrence and Baldwin City.
"After I did that I would stand back and look and it would just look like a golf course rolling off across the hills," he said. "So I decided to try to make a golf course."
Morantz created the course by simply discovering the holes, not by bulldozing or carving up the land - practices used to construct most golf courses.
"What I'm really doing is trying to demonstrate that it's possible to create this sort of recreational place without using chemicals, without using toxic chemicals, pesticides and herbicides," he said.
Morantz is also trying to use less energy. He mows the greens and fairways with a tractor once a month. The course has no irrigation system because there is a source of underground water.
Upon entering the property, visitors can see signs instructing them to wear protective clothing and stay on the paths to avoid poison ivy, insects and sink holes.
Danny Rogovein plays at the course once a week on average and said it improves his overall game.
"The course requires accuracy, which is the hardest thing to do in golf," he said. "It's easy to hit the ball as hard as you can with each club and hit it a specific distance, but to hit it right on line of where you want it to go and to get it to stop when it hits the ground is very hard to do."
Richard Morantz hopes the Vinland Natural Nine can serve as a model for small towns to create sustainable golf courses. He wants the golf industry to take notice and use his methods to maintenance of golf courses across the county.
Playing on the course is free. The Vinland Natural Nine is hosting a single club golf tournament on Sunday. For more information, visit vinlandnaturalnine.com.