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Ben Hollerbach

  • Karma: +0/-0
In the world of limited time, limited space, and novel socialization it would seem that a Pitch and Putt course would be a perfect option. Great for beginners and families, still challenging for the established player, doesn't take too long to play, and doesn't require much equipment. For as much land as a TopGolf occupies you could build something like a Butler Pitch and Putt.

So, this begs the questions; why is there not a, let alone many, Pitch and Putt courses in every major city? Why would a course of this type succeed in your town and why would it fail?



Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +0/-1
In the world of limited time, limited space, and novel socialization it would seem that a Pitch and Putt course would be a perfect option. Great for beginners and families, still challenging for the established player, doesn't take too long to play, and doesn't require much equipment. For as much land as a TopGolf occupies you could build something like a Butler Pitch and Putt.

So, this begs the questions; why is there not a, let alone many, Pitch and Putt courses in every major city? Why would a course of this type succeed in your town and why would it fail?


Ben:


It would probably be better to start with some examples of where they were thriving and profitable.

Ben Hollerbach

  • Karma: +0/-0
Tom,


Thatís kind of my point.


They are so much more common in the UK and nearly nonexistent in the States. Beyond Butler in Austin and Flushing Meadow in NYC there seems to be so very, very few.


The stark absence of Pitch and Putt courses in the states seems significant, Iím just trying to learn why.

Jason Topp

  • Karma: +0/-0
Our local university course had one but then converted it into a driving range.  The range has a line of around 200 yards and is packed over the noon hour and in the evenings during the week and packed all day on the weekend. 


It is not a nice range but the money it brings in must be orders of magnitude larger than it was when it was a par three course. 

Jason Topp

  • Karma: +0/-0
This project looks very interesting.  A par three course with a focus on accessibility for disabled people.  I spoke with one of the people behind the project and hope it is successful.


https://www.barrierfreegolf.com/theloop


Ira Fishman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Ben,


When I was a kid (many, many years ago), there was a lighted Pitch and Putt close to OíHare Airport. It was our version of Top Golf. But you can imagine with land values being what they are, having a limit on the number of players given the sequential nature of such a course does not work from an economics perspective. Top Golf (actually never been) probably can have at least 5x the customers at any one point plus the food and beverage is right at hand. Areas where land is less costly might work, but then the population density limits the client base. I have not played the Schoolhouse Nine which seems closer to an Executive Course than Pitch and Putt, but even though it is in a sparsely populated area seems to thrive more as a community initiative than a business enterprise.


Ira

Ira Fishman

  • Karma: +0/-0
This project looks very interesting.  A par three course with a focus on accessibility for disabled people.  I spoke with one of the people behind the project and hope it is successful.


https://www.barrierfreegolf.com/theloop


A great idea.


Ira

Kalen Braley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Interesting topic.

Here in Salt Lake County there are several 9 hole, par 33 to 36, courses and 3 of them have an additional pitch and putt 9.

But there is only pitch and putt 9 and its part of a private club that includes a grill, tennis courts, pool, and social gathering areas...and currently has a waiting list to boot. 

P.S. In all my travels around the Western US, I only recall two stand-alone pitch and putt courses and one is NLE for quite awhile now.

Pete_Pittock

  • Karma: +0/-0
Portland, OR has Colwood Golf Center. Part of Portland Parks Bureau and operated by Kemper sports. It has a 9 hole par 3 course, a six hole practice course and a lighted range. https://colwoodgolf.com/


Constructed on five holes of the NLE Vern Macan Colwood National course. Had an affinity for the old course as that was the scene of my first hole-in-one, and later my only (non-calloway scored) tournament victory.


I started golfing at Hoyt Park Pitch & Putt, deceased because of infrastructure for the Portland Zoo and original OMSI

Erik J. Barzeski

  • Karma: +0/-0
I've always understood them to be a tough deal because the most expensive parts (greens, then tees) are still there, but people expect to pay very little to play. They get beat up, too, because more people hit the greens and hit wedges and shorter irons from the tees. SoÖ they're expensive to maintain for the price you can charge, and thus, they're not super easy to make profitable.
Erik J. Barzeski @iacas
Author, Lowest Score Wins, and Lifetime Student of the Game

David_Tepper

  • Karma: +0/-0
Here in the SF Bay area, the renovation of Corica Park (Alameda muni) included the creation of a 9-hole par 3 course. It gets around the issue of wear & tear on the tee boxes by using mats.

https://www.coricapark.com/mif-par-3/

The Mariners Point Golf Center in Foster City has a 9-hole par-3 course that is lit for night play. It is a large complex with driving range, short-game practice areas, club-fitting service, etc.

https://www.marinerspoint.com

And much worse for wear, the 9-hole par-3 at the west end of Golden Gate Park continues to soldier on, offering an entry point into the game for people learning to play golf.

https://goldengateparkgolf.com/



Peter Sayegh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Arroyo Seco in Pasadena has been around for a long time. Played many nighttime rounds there back in the late 80s while in college. Nothing special about any of the holes but it was always crowded back then.
http://www.arroyosecogc.com/

Phil Carlucci

  • Karma: +0/-0
Nassau County opened up a county park pitch-and-putt in 2015 at Nickerson Beach, nine short holes playing over the dunes not far from Lido.  Unlike the typical P&P, or at least the other local ones, Nickerson has some interesting elements -- a punchbowl-style green, mounding, moat bunker, waste-area carry, etc.  There was some thought put into the design.  I wrote about it in 2018 and the Fried Egg did as well in 2019, expressing a similar sentiment to Ben's original post, about how this type of course with tiny acreage could/should be a part of many towns and cities.

For whatever reason, Nassau chose to do next to nothing to promote it, so to about 98% of county golfers, it simply doesn't exist.  I didn't even know about it until about two years after it opened, when I stumbled across the original county press release.  Fast forward to this past spring, while talking to some local golfers for a piece on Lido, we got to talking about Nickerson, and the vibe I got was that the course had been neglected and in disrepair.  I took a ride out there one day in April (pre-season for the park, so I was told to just go play, as no one is manning the course) and they were right.  Chewed up greens, weedy traps, gnarled wooden boards (walking paths). 


Now, the park/county did just post a few weeks ago that Nickerson is open for the season, with pics of cosmetic and grounds repairs on the course.  I'll have to go see for myself when I have an hour to kill.  That's the good thing about these courses -- you can play in an hour, take your kid (I took my 5-yo daughter there for her first-ever "round," and she's been into golf ever since), and have a great time.  Not sure if this is Nassau's plan -- leave the course neglected for nine months then spruce it up for beach season -- but I sure hope it's not.  Seems like a good amenity wasted.

All in all, I don't know the economics, but it seems to me a 10-acre P&P with some intelligent design and a mildly competent social media poster should work in many places around the country, even if confined to municipal city and county parks.

https://www.golfonlongisland.com/teebox/2018/06/flyover-nickerson-dunes-pitch-putt.html

https://thefriedegg.com/nickerson-dunes-review/
Golf On Long Island: www.GolfOnLongIsland.com
Author, Images of America: Long Island Golf

archie_struthers

  • Karma: +0/-0
 8)


When we were kids we often played pitch and putt at the Golf Farm in Gibbsboro , NJ.  It was simple and fun with the longest hole being about 40 yards. They mandated play off the mat tees so the maintenance issues were minimized to some extent. Great fun and definitely sharpened your short game.


Don't know why it isn't more popular as it used to be busy weeknights and packed on weekends.


Bernie Bell

  • Karma: +0/-0
8)


When we were kids we often played pitch and putt at the Golf Farm in Gibbsboro , NJ.  It was simple and fun with the longest hole being about 40 yards. They mandated play off the mat tees so the maintenance issues were minimized to some extent. Great fun and definitely sharpened your short game.


Don't know why it isn't more popular as it used to be busy weeknights and packed on weekends.
It's still there, Archie, though I haven't been in years. 

https://golflandnj.com/


Brian Finn

  • Karma: +0/-0
Nassau County opened up a county park pitch-and-putt in 2015 at Nickerson Beach, nine short holes playing over the dunes not far from Lido.  Unlike the typical P&P, or at least the other local ones, Nickerson has some interesting elements -- a punchbowl-style green, mounding, moat bunker, waste-area carry, etc.  There was some thought put into the design.  I wrote about it in 2018 and the Fried Egg did as well in 2019, expressing a similar sentiment to Ben's original post, about how this type of course with tiny acreage could/should be a part of many towns and cities.

For whatever reason, Nassau chose to do next to nothing to promote it, so to about 98% of county golfers, it simply doesn't exist.  I didn't even know about it until about two years after it opened, when I stumbled across the original county press release.  Fast forward to this past spring, while talking to some local golfers for a piece on Lido, we got to talking about Nickerson, and the vibe I got was that the course had been neglected and in disrepair.  I took a ride out there one day in April (pre-season for the park, so I was told to just go play, as no one is manning the course) and they were right.  Chewed up greens, weedy traps, gnarled wooden boards (walking paths). 


Now, the park/county did just post a few weeks ago that Nickerson is open for the season, with pics of cosmetic and grounds repairs on the course.  I'll have to go see for myself when I have an hour to kill.  That's the good thing about these courses -- you can play in an hour, take your kid (I took my 5-yo daughter there for her first-ever "round," and she's been into golf ever since), and have a great time.  Not sure if this is Nassau's plan -- leave the course neglected for nine months then spruce it up for beach season -- but I sure hope it's not.  Seems like a good amenity wasted.

All in all, I don't know the economics, but it seems to me a 10-acre P&P with some intelligent design and a mildly competent social media poster should work in many places around the country, even if confined to municipal city and county parks.

https://www.golfonlongisland.com/teebox/2018/06/flyover-nickerson-dunes-pitch-putt.html

https://thefriedegg.com/nickerson-dunes-review/
Phil,
If you haven't already, you should check out the Robert Moses P&P on Fire Island.  It is a beautiful little course, and probably the best P&P I have seen.  18 holes, usually in good condition, with holes from roughly 50 to 120 yards.  Nearby Cedar Beach also has a P&P, which is also fun, albeit not as good as Robert Moses. 

Phil Carlucci

  • Karma: +0/-0
Phil,
If you haven't already, you should check out the Robert Moses P&P on Fire Island.  It is a beautiful little course, and probably the best P&P I have seen.  18 holes, usually in good condition, with holes from roughly 50 to 120 yards.  Nearby Cedar Beach also has a P&P, which is also fun, albeit not as good as Robert Moses.
Been to Robert Moses, very nice and scenic.  Like you said, Cedar Beach is a notch below RM, but good for what it is.  There's been chatter that the town wants to reduce it to nine.

Thanks to the location of my daughter's dance school, my go-to is the P&P/par-3 course at Sumpwams Creek in Babylon. Very solid nine short holes that can be played and enjoyed in a pinch.
Golf On Long Island: www.GolfOnLongIsland.com
Author, Images of America: Long Island Golf

Tommy Williamsen

  • Karma: +0/-0
Herbert Strong designed a 2000 yard par 32 course for the private gated community of Sherwood Forest near Annapolis MD. There is no public access. It has been twenty years since I have been there so I don't know how much it is utilized now but it was busy when I played it.
Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

Rick Lane

  • Karma: +0/-0
In Jupiter Fla, there is an 18 hole, 2200 yard par three, with holes ranging from 67 to 170 yards.    Itís quite fun.


https://www.jupiterdunesgolf.net/

Mark Fedeli

  • Karma: +0/-0
8)


When we were kids we often played pitch and putt at the Golf Farm in Gibbsboro , NJ.  It was simple and fun with the longest hole being about 40 yards. They mandated play off the mat tees so the maintenance issues were minimized to some extent. Great fun and definitely sharpened your short game.


Don't know why it isn't more popular as it used to be busy weeknights and packed on weekends.


I was going to mention the Golf Farm. I grew up in Voorhees and went to Eastern HS, and I'm not sure I'd be playing golf if not for the accessibility of Golf Farm and Kresson GC. My parents used to drop me off at both places for hours and hours and it was never uncomfortable in any way.
South Jersey to Brooklyn. @marrrkfedeli

V. Kmetz

  • Karma: +0/-0
I have been remiss not to visit in many trips to LA, but I had always heard the Armand Hammer Pony Course in Holmby Park was entertaining and that UCLA golfers were occasionally seen there in Corey Pavin's era.  It always lists Bell as the architect


https://www.golfnow.com/courses/-3686-armand-hammerholmby-park-pony-golf-course-details

I can't remember whether it was just putting-miniature golf or not, but I enjoyed the mini grass course at WGHoF
"The tee shot must first be hit straight and long between a vast bunker on the left which whispers 'slice' in the player's ear, and a wilderness on the right which induces a hurried hook." -

Steve Lang

  • Karma: +0/-0
 8)  It should work anywhere there's some isolated land that isn't too expensive and can be coupled with some other attractions... and a kid worker corps...


Back in the 60's, we used to get dropped off at the Monroe and Talmadge intersection in Toledo where there was Brown's Par 3 & driving range on NW corner, a Pitch and Putt (& Bat-Bat + arcade) across street on SW corner, and a Putt-Putt on SE corner...  short game heaven and hell, was a great time for many summers of adventure and fun, highly recommend it...


but land became too valuable and fell to "progress" ... easy to see history repeating itself elsewhere, but nice while it lasts


https://www.toledohistorybox.com/2016/07/22/par-3-at-talmadge-and-monroe-photos/




 
Inverness (Toledo, OH) cathedral clock inscription: "God measures men by what they are. Not what they in wealth possess.  That vibrant message chimes afar.
The voice of Inverness"

JLahrman

  • Karma: +0/-0
but land became too valuable and fell to "progress" ... easy to see history repeating itself elsewhere, but nice while it lasts


So would an aversion to progress help?


The Butler Pitch and Putt in Austin, cited in the opening post of this thread, is in an area of Austin that has become extraordinarily expensive even by a city that has seen a lot of growth in home prices. It's adjacent to Zilker Park and just across the river from downtown. Homes in its immediate vicinity are easily 7 figures. A pitch and putt is probably the least profitable use of that land. I hope it stays, it's a super-cool spot and a fun thing to do. Even for non-golfers, it's got to be somewhat reassuring to see that things from a bygone era are still around in a city that has grown as quickly as Austin has. And I've never heard about it being under threat of closure or rezoning. But certainly other cities would have considered other uses for it. To add a pitch and putt in a central area of a large city certainly seems like it would be a tough sell!

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
I understand that pitch-n-putt is very popular in Ireland with inter-club matches, national events etc. Shane Lowry has commented on how it was p-n-p that got him started in the game. Others too I suspect.
Perhaps someone form the Emerald Isle could explain its popularity?
Atb

Adrian_Stiff

  • Karma: +0/-0
From a UK perspective most cities had pitch and putt courses from the 60s and they were municipal type operations very cheap to play and aimed at getting people into the sport (it was how I started) but they started to get closed in the 80s when councils started looking at their budgets and realising how much they were costing/loosing. In Bristol we had 5 in the mid 70s, now we have just 1 but it is 36 holes, its the 9 holers that did the worse.


So like many things it is down to cost. As a bolt on to an existing facility they can work but as a stand alone then NO.


7 days a week equals about 100 hours of being open so at minimum wage that's £1050 per week for the man/lady in the ticket office. You would need 1 Greenkeeper so say £500 per week...add a bit fuel, energy cost, machines another £500 you are looking at a cost to operate of £100,000 per year before any rent/rate. If you charge £6, you need to do a lot of rounds to get back level.  HENCE why they close.


9 hole par 3 courses can work at existing facilities because many of those costs get zeroed out. The secret of financial success/get lots of play for a par 3 course is the holes must be very easy and encouraging so to allow the first timer to play. Island greens and forced carries, bunkers are the NO-NOs.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

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