To hear the golf pros and developers talk, struggling foursomes are wandering all over Anne Arundel County looking for a place to play, stuck on waiting lists at private clubs that cannot keep up with the demand.
There is a golfing boom going on at the moment, they say, and developers -- more interested in building homes than fairways on the coveted land between Baltimore and Washington -- are slow to catch on.
But at least two developers are offering a solution, building championship-style courses. One, at Walden, a community planned for the Crofton-Gambrills area, is nearly complete; golfers are expected to start swinging away by Memorial Day. The other, five miles southwest of Annapolis, has started clearing the way for fairways and greens. It should be completed by fall 1993.
FOR THE RECORD - In the Nov. 8 Anne Arundel County Sun it was incorrectly reported that the Dwight D. Eisenhower Golf Course on GeneralsHighway in Crownsville is the only public course in the county.
The Bay Hills Golf Club in Arnold allows the public to play, and the Annapolis Golf Club, a nine-hole course located in Eastport,is also public.
"The number of golf courses built just hasn't kept up," said Randy L. Raudabaugh, Maryland manager for Friendswood Development Co., which is building the course and 1,000 homes in South County. "What we are seeing now is a reactionto that."
Joseph J. McCann, director of the county recreation andparks department, couldn't agree more. He commissioned a study two years ago that found "ample statistics to justify another golf course."
Under former County Executive O. James Lighthizer, the county bought 100 acres off Fort Smallwood Road in Pasadena and is looking to buy another 50. That would give officials enough land to build a second public course for Anne Arundel.
"We have a lot of unmet demand in the Baltimore and Washington area," McCann said. "There is no question we are in a major golf boom."
The county has six private golfcourses, including Bay Hills, Chartwell and the Crofton Country Club. Fort Meade and the Naval Academy have their own courses.
The only public facility is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Golf Course, on Generals Highway in Crownsville. That course, McCann said, usually has a long wait list to play.
"It's a tough course to get on," he said.
McCann sited the need for more private courses that will serve the "upper-income belt" of county residents. Even people earning a lot of money, it seems, are running out of places to play.
The Walden GolfClub, located in the Walden residential community off Johns Hopkins Road near Crofton, already has 86 members signed up -- and the club hasn't even started advertising yet.
Those people paid initiation fees up to $5,000. They will continue to pay between $130 and $170 a month for the privilege of playing the 18-hole course that features 10lakes, an island green and a course that circles the historic Johns Hopkins mansion, built in 1795.
The 1,030 single-family homes, town houses and condominiums on the 410-acre site will sell for around $160,000; 200 have been built so far. George Jakovics, general managerand director of golf for Walden, said membership will be limited to 500 golfers.
Most potential members, he said, seem to be coming from the Shipley's Choice area of Severna Park. They are mostly people who can't afford higher-priced clubs that charge up to $15,000 to join.
"We're the only private golf course in the area that can acceptmembers immediately," Jakovics said. "People should sign up early because we've got a hell of a deal. We will raise our initiation fees eventually."
The other course, which has just began construction, is at South River Colony and will be located amid a mini-city off Solomons Island Road near Route 214. The developers are still waiting forfinal county approval on some of the 900 homes.
Some of the homescould sell for $1 million. While monthly dues for the golf course haven't been set yet, Raudabaugh said the initiation fee will be $10,000. "South River Colony is for the upper end of the market," he said.
Even so, there is no shortage of people wanting to sign up. "We'vehad a lot of people inquiring about it," Raudabaugh said. "We've gotten a lot of phone calls from people wanting to find out how to buy ahouse or join the country club."
The developers agree that South River Colony and Walden are designed to fill different golfing needs.Walden will offer different types of memberships, complete with senior and junior discounts and weekday deals.
That, says Jakovics, will attract a diverse membership from Anne Arundel's middle class. "Weare going for pleasure," he said. "We want to do things of the modern era. That's why I think we're getting so many responses."
Said Raudabaugh: "Walden is the kind of place that I could afford to join."
But whether or not more developers will start building private golf courses is questionable. "Developers usually go over the edge a little bit," McCann said. "Rightnow, there is sufficient demand (to) where I'm not concerned."
But one developer building the 3,000-home Piney Orchard development in Odenton has put plans for a golf course on hold. "No decision has been made on whether there will be one or not," said Larry Lichtenauer, director of corporate communications forthe KMS Group Inc.
He said the company has laid out the course, but has not submitted anything to the county. "To be honest, I don't think it will happen," he said.
Lichtenauer said Piney Orchard is attracting many first-time home buyers who have invested their savingsin homes and don't have any left over to join a private golf course."I don't think it's an important issue (for them)," he said.