Walter Morgan is getting in tee times at Hobbit's Glen Golf Club while he can.
He golfs nearly every day, sinking putts at both of the Columbia Association's golf courses. But once Hobbit's Glen closes this summer for a nearly $900,000 refurbishing project that includes rebuilding 16 damaged greens, his only option will be to play at Fairway Hills Golf Club.
Morgan is a big fan of Fairway Hills, but he is concerned about the influx of golfers who likely will play there while Hobbit's Glen is closed for nine months.
"It will be a zoo," Morgan predicted.
The Columbia Association, however, is trying to prevent that.
While Hobbit's Glen is closed, from Aug. 15 through May next year, the association expects Fairway Hills to field about 30 percent of Hobbit's Glen golfers. That means about 7,500 extra rounds will be played at Fairway Hills during those nine months, said Robert D. Bellamy, the Columbia Association's operations manager for the sport and fitness facilities division.
Fairway Hills' busiest periods likely will be August and September, when, Bellamy estimated, about 7,000 rounds of golf will be played each month. Fairway Hills usually has about 5,500 rounds each of those months.
"There's going to be a short-term period where we're really feeling busy," Bellamy said. "But I think other than that, we'll be fine at Fairway Hills."
Dave Leonard, chairman of the Hobbit's Glen/Fairway Hills Golf Committee, said the primary issue is whether Fairway Hills can accommodate most or all of the weekend golfers.
"That will be a work in progress, although we're set up to take care of everybody," he said. "If we do have problems, I think they'll be small ones and not major ones."
On Aug. 1, the association will terminate all annual memberships at Hobbit's Glen, and members who renew will receive a 25 percent discount, said Rob Goldman, the association's vice president for sport and fitness. Those renewing will be able to play at Fairway Hills while Hobbit's Glen is being refurbished.
The project includes $679,000 for rebuilding 16 greens and replacing the grass on four, as well as $185,000 for renovating the clubhouse.
To prepare for the extra golfers at Fairway Hills, the Columbia Association is adding extra staff members at the course, and it will open a half-hour earlier, allowing for about a dozen more players on the course in the mornings, Goldman said.
The Hobbit's Glen driving range will remain open during the refurbishment, Goldman said.
The association will install temporary greens at Hobbit's Glen after the new ones are constructed by October, Goldman said. The temporary greens will be at all 18 holes, placed in front of the newly constructed greens, he said.
The course's annual members will be able to play those greens at no cost, except for a reduced cart fee. Other Columbia Association package plan members can use the course for a minimal fee, Bellamy said.
Goldman acknowledged that the temporary greens "won't be a great putting surface, but you can practice all your other shots." He anticipates golfers will take advantage of the opportunity, and he said it will also be a chance for them to teach family members the game at a low cost.
"There are a lot of people that really just love Hobbit's Glen and really have no use for Fairway Hills, and this is a way they can keep hitting golf balls at Hobbit's," Goldman said.
But golfer Don Wheeler will not be using the temporary greens.
"When you're playing a golf course with 18 temporary greens, you're not really playing golf," said Wheeler, of Wilde Lake.
Wheeler and Morgan are part of the Ad Hoc Committee from Hobbit's Glen Golf, which blamed the association's management of the course for its damaged greens and did not support the refurbishing project. But they are resigned to supporting the greens reconstruction now that it will happen.
Both plan to retain their memberships at Hobbit's Glen and also laud Fairway Hills.
"I love the course [Fairway Hills], and I love the people who work up there," said Morgan, of Wilde Lake. "They really aim to please."
Morgan said he is now satisfied with how the Columbia Association is handling the Hobbit's Glen greens reconstruction and is looking forward to the repairs. He is especially eager for the project to end, when he will be able to golf regularly at Hobbit's Glen.
"It's just something you have to suffer," he said.