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Study to guide future of Paint Branch Golf Course

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Posted on: April 14, 2022

By James Cirrone

Prince George’s County plans to renovate Paint Branch Golf Course to include a range of features including a new six-hole course, a miniature golf course, more variety in the length of holes and a putting green with at least 18 holes, according to Claire Worshtil, lead strategic park planner with the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation. 

During a public meeting on March 15, Worshtil presented two proposed concept maps of the golf course created by Kington Golf, the Nevada-based group that is consulting with the county on the project. Both designs retain the nine-hole golf course, Worshtil said, and any renovations would be implemented after a countywide golf study that is set to begin in September. In an emailed statement, Worshtil said that the study could take a year or longer. 

“Ideally, the construction of a new course would take three to four months and the course would be shut down for a period of one year for construction,” Worshtil said. 

Worshtil added that construction could be done in phases to avoid closing the whole course, though this would likely mean that the project could take longer. 

Dr. Keith Strong, a golfer and an activist, formed Friends of Paint Branch, a group that fought against the University of Maryland’s plan to build a track and field facility over the course. Strong, who attended the March 15 meeting, said that closing the course for a year would be “the death knell” for Paint Branch. “Do you know what that’s going to do to all the leagues and all the people that play regularly? They’ve got nowhere to go,” he said.

The first concept map Worshtil presented included changes intended to make the course more challenging and improve playability; these changes would include new grass bunkers, rolls and chipping areas.

The second concept map showed the nine-hole course shortened by 200 yards and added a 535-yard, par-3, six-hole course, Worshtil noted. The course would serve as a children’s training course and as an area for players who want to practice their short game. The second concept map also included a new clubhouse and maintenance facility, and an expanded parking lot. 

Strong called both plans “cockamamie ideas.”

“They haven’t asked any of us what we wanted, and we don’t want … mini golf. They had it there about 20 years ago. It was an abject failure,” he said.

Worshtil said miniature golf could attract new customers such as college students and families, though she acknowledged mini golf wasn’t a success last time it was tried at Paint Branch. 

William Martindale, the junior golf programming director with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, said he didn’t have an opinion on which concept should be chosen but called a six-hole course “a great training facility.”

“I think the idea behind this … was to have a separate area for a lot of the junior stuff and a lot of the beginners,” he said. “You would still have a nine-hole golf course over on the other side there with a lot of redesigned holes.”

Strong disagreed with Martindale, calling the six-hole course “a complete red herring” and suggested instead that junior tees could simply be placed halfway to the green on each of the nine holes.

“You don’t need to change the course to do that,” Strong said. “You just need to put in a junior tee on each of the holes, then you have a nine-hole junior course.”

Worshtil stressed that the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Planning wants the golf community to be involved as the study begins. She encouraged interested golfers to  contact her about participating in focus groups.

“We’re going to be reaching out to users of all the different courses to understand pros and cons of the courses, things that they’d like to see.” Worshtil said at the meeting.

Residents have expressed appreciation for the golf course’s affordability, its heated driving range and its flat walking trails. Paint Branch fans can continue to enjoy the course they know and love for the time being; changes to the course would hinge on the countywide study, and that won’t wrap until fall 2023 or later.

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