Local golf enthusiasts could forgo their trips to Myrtle Beach and still place their putts in a warmer climate this winter.
'Course, they'll have to be content with birdies and bogeys on a miniature scale.
Danner Farms, a Westminster retail nursery, has installed an indoor miniature golf course with a tropical theme in its main greenhouse on Route 140.
"We felt there is such a need for something like this in the community," said Rhonda Danner, co-owner of Danner Farms. "The tropical theme was so natural with all the plant material we have around here."
The 18-hole course, purchased from a friend in Bel Air, wasn't something the owners intended adding to their nursery, Ms. Danner said. But, when this one was offered, it made sense.
"There's nothing for families to do together in the winter, except going to the movies or the arcade," Ms. Danner said. "This is just good, clean, family fun where they can get in out of the cold.
"Also, during the winter months, the greenhouse business is real slow. It fills that time of year when our sales are down."
Few customers feel like shopping for plants and trees when the weather is cold and rainy, Ms. Danner said. However, those same people seem to flock to the warm greenhouses for a few rounds of golf, she said.
"One day last weekend, when the weather was miserable outside, the nursery business was slow," she said. "But there were a lot of people in here golfing. It's something to do to get in out of the weather."
Another advantage was that the course could be added with few operational changes, Ms. Danner said.
Because Danner Farms already is a retail outlet, state and county officials said the owners would need only to purchase additional insurance.
"Golf is classified differently than landscaping and nurseries, but there is very little insurance risk," she said.
Carroll County has one other miniature golf course, at the Liberty Golf Park in Eldersburg. County residents also play at the Putt 'N Fun, an indoor course on the Frederick County side of Mount Airy, and Tom Mitchell's in Reisterstown.
"The nice thing about this one is, with a greenhouse situation, there's lots of open glass, lots of light and you can see out," Ms. Danner said. "It's unusual, rather than being in a building where you can't see anything."
Danner's golf holes range from a simple, straight shot to more difficult putts through moving parts, she said. A windmill, a railroad crossing sign, a birdhouse and a "his" and "hers" tee are among the obstacles.
The final hole is a par one shot through a clown's nose. Successful players win a free game, Ms. Danner said.
Although the course has been open for only a week, Ms. Danner said her weekend schedule is filling up with birthday parties and other outings.
"We've got our first birthday party scheduled for this weekend," she said. "We've had quite a few calls already."
Adults play for $4.50 each and children for $3.50 each, Ms. Danner said.
Regular group rates are 50 cents off per player, although day care centers can bring players for $2.50 a person.
"We're hoping to offer various packages for events," she said, adding that those were still in the planning stages.
"We'd also like to add some of those amusement machines where the kids earn tickets and then can buy a prize at the end."
The course will not affect the nursery business and will close in mid-March, Ms. Danner said.
"This will be a five-month, winter course," she said. "We'll be putting the [plant] tables back in the spring and then bring the course out again in mid-October."