Aficionados of mini golf generally fall into two camps: those who prefer towering windmills and fiberglass pyramids nestled among 18 holes or those who prefer fake sand traps and natural landscaping reminiscent of the U.S Open.
Martin Schaefermeyer, manager of Burke Lake Park and a supervisor of the new mini golf facility at Burke Lake, is part of the latter group.
"We didn't want to make it gaudy," he said of the new course. "We didn't want a giant dinosaur in the middle of the golf course like in a resort. We wanted natural features that would attract people. We didn't want anything that would take away from the beauty of the landscape."
Thanks to the efforts of contractors at Atlantic Minigolf, Schaefermeyer got his wish. The course almost blends into the green hills behind it. A pile of gray rocks rises from the center of the golf course, spraying water which runs to the two ponds below. Wooden bridges connect the lengthy 18 holes and natural grasses dot the landscape. Several large trees shade patrons from the mid-afternoon sun.
Schaefermeyer hopes that mini golf will be a draw to families who already come to Burke Lake Park for its carousel, ice cream parlor and train ride.
"We felt that a minigolf course here would be a perfect fit for all the young children who come here," he said. "It will provide an additional recreation activity for patrons that come out to Burke Lake. It fits in with everything we do here. We're for entertainment and recreation. ... The more we can offer to fill that need the better it will be here for us." Schaefermeyer also hopes that mini golf will create a profit for the park, which was hit earlier this year with budget cuts.
Work began on the project in March 2003 and was supposed to be finished within 90 days. This spring's wet weather slowed construction considerably.
"We only had four weekends since Jan. 1 with no rain," Schaefermeyer said. "The workers couldn't even pour concrete." The golf course is now scheduled to open in August 2003.
MINIGOLF will cost $6 for adults and $5 for kids. Course hours will be from 11 a.m. to dusk, and the season will last from April to October. In spring and fall, the course will only be open on weekends, although hours may change depending on demand. In 2004, Burke Lake Park may offer a tournament for those interested in showing off their putting skills.
Most minigolf courses are generally a par-2, but the course at Burke Lake will have par-3 and par-4 holes.
"I haven't played it yet myself," said Schaefermeyer, "but it will have a little bit of a challenge."
Now with the addition of this new course, Burke Lake Park will be more of a draw to families throughout Fairfax County.
"I'm delighted," said Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield). "We don't have many things for young children in this district. We waited a long time for it."