THERE is an obsession in the world for all things...


June 30, 1993

THERE is an obsession in the world for all things American. Walking down European streets one can see fashion trend-setters with American flags on their clothes and teeny-boppers toting notebooks plastered with the cast from "Beverly Hills 90210." Old, worn-down Levis are chic and people of all ages stare in awe at Michael Jordan's gracefulness on the court.

This trend is not limited to fashion and television; now miniature golf seems to have jumped on the bandwagon.

"We are receiving international faxes or inquiries on almost a daily basis," said Ralph J. Lomma, president of Lomma Miniature Golf Courses.

He said this pastime has expanded across the globe.

"So far we have courses in China, Japan, Italy, Guatemala, Israel, Chile, Pacific Rim and Eastern European countries."

Here in Maryland, miniature golf is everywhere. There are 23 courses just in Ocean City, including an indoor one with an underwater theme.

Lomma's executive vice president, Gary Knight, used to have a map on his office wall of the United States filled with pins marking sales of hundreds of Lomma miniature golf courses. Now he has added a map of the world.

Lomma said he is not sure why miniature golf has become so widespread but he speculates it could be anything from the fall of communism to plain, old-fashioned greed.

Perhaps it is symptomatic of the end of the Cold War. Maybe it is just an admiration for anything American. It could simply reflect the interest of international entrepreneurs in making a good investment.

Maybe miniature golf's world-wide popularity has something to do with everyone wanting to "Be Like Mike." Perhaps they will be better than he is at holding on to their money.

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