MELROSE — If you play at the Barnyard Miniature Golf course, don't let the flowers on the 17th hole fool you.
"This may be the hardest hole," said Candy F. Cole, who will open the course -- the second in the county -- to the public this spring.
Golfers will have to figure out how to get the ball up a ramp without dropping it in a flower box, scotching all chances for a hole-in-one.
They'll also have to watch out for the sand trap on the 11thhole, the mounds on the fifth and the stuffed sheep, cows, ducks andpigs scattered throughout.
The 18-hole, all-grass course on Route30 just north of Manchester will open next month if the weather is warm enough, Cole said.
All-grass miniature golf courses are unusual, said David Lloyd,
chief executive officer for Putt-Putt Golf Courses of America in Fayetteville, N.C., which has more than 1,000 franchises in 32 states and two foreign countries.
Grass doesn't wearwell under heavy traffic, he said. The first miniature golf courses built in the 1920s were grass, but surfaces today are made of durablesynthetic carpets, he said.
In the early 1950s, when Putt-Putt opened its first course, the surface was made of goat hair, dyed green and glued to burlap, Lloyd said.
Cole, who gives parties for children as part of a business she operates with her husband, Timothy W., didn't want to cast the holes in concrete in case the business didn'tdo well. If golfers didn't flock to the course, she and her husband would have to dig up the concrete.
But they also didn't want to pour concrete in case the course does well. If it becomes a popular spot, golfers soon would tire of
playing the same 18 holes, she said.
With a grass base and landscaping ties marking each hole, they can realign the holes every year, said Cole, 31, who designed the course herself after visiting three or four other courses.
Golfers willpay $2 to play the course, which abuts Route 30 just north of Masonry Contractors Inc. The playing area is fenced in.
Cole said she and her husband have invested $7,000 in the course. Clubs in three sizes and white and neon orange, yellow and pink balls are in stock.
The Coles have operated their business, called Funtimes Party Land, for four years, she said. She gives birthday parties for children in a garage-type building at the site at a cost of between $4.50 and $8.50per guest. The golf course, which was finished last October, complements that business, she said.
Last year, she said she gave 150 parties.
She said she saw a need for family entertainment in the area. Her nearest competition is in Hanover, Pa., and Reisterstown, Baltimore County. The only other miniature golf course in Carroll is Liberty Golf Park in Eldersburg, which charges $3.25 per 18 holes.
LisaHD, managing editor of Amusement Business, a weekly newspaper based in Nashville, Tenn., for sports and mass entertainment businesses, said amusement parks, miniature golf courses and similar attractions are maintaining their popularity.
"Family entertainment is really booming right now," she said.
The Coles also have about seven video games in a small room in the party building. They will open it to golfers for $2 for a half-hour of unlimited play, she said.
The Cole family has been in the entertainment business for some time, she said. The family operates Funtime Amusements, which provides rides and games for church and fire company carnivals.