Par for the course: a quick nine

Pitch-and-putt courses are gaining wider acceptance ingolf, no longer thought of as strictly for the bell curve of a golfer's life, the beginner and the senior citizen. Some top golf destinations, including the Prairie Club near Valentine, include a par-3 course. And the Omaha area has par-3 and executive courses — par-3 and par-4 holes only — that offer a variety of challenges.

Nebraska-born Ron Whitten, the longtime architecture editor for Golf Digest magazine, has said these courses play an important role.

"They are the sandlots of golf, where people can go to build a passion for the game," said Whitten, who grew up playing Omaha's Spring Lake nine-hole course.

So why not check out the area's "sandlots" for a quick nine, a tune up on the short game or a fun outing with your children, your parents or a group of friends who don't need to hike back to the "Tiger tees" of a championship-length course?

In alphabetical order, here are the short courses in the Omaha area.

EAGLE RUN

Par-3 and executive courses; 132nd Street south of West Maple The Meadows' par-3 course is easy to walk. It's 1,186 yards from the back tees, the longest hole 179 (including the only tee shot over a water hazard); 891 yards from forward tees, 127 longest. The Links' executive nine plays through a neighborhood and is undulating, with four par-3s and five par-4s.

ELKHORN RIDGE

Par-3; Veterans Drive east of 204th Street (next to Elkhorn High School) No bunkers, no water hazards. Holes range from 95 to 173 yards and add up to 1,203 yards in rolling hills that face toward the east.

ELMWOOD PARK

Executive course; 6222 Pacific St. Omaha's second-oldest public golf course (1916) plays to par 68 from 5,000 yards, making it the longest test in the area without a par-5 hole. Good views of the western skyline are possible from the first tee and along the 11th hole.

GRANDPA'S WOODS

Mixed, par-3 and par-4; 5505 310th St. near Murdock, Nebraska A mix of six par-3s and three par-4s add up to par 30 in this rural setting. Holes 6 and 7 play across a winding creek.

MILT'S

Par-3; 6402 Q St.

This family-owned course (with a driving range) is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2019. The 1,170-yard layout, which is easy to walk, has small greens. A pond comes into play on the fifth and sixth holes. Holes range from 80 to 195 yards.

SPRING LAKE PARK

Executive course; 4020 Hoctor Blvd., near 16th and F Streets Built in the 1930s southwest of Omaha's zoo, this is a mix of six par-4s and three par-3s. The ninth hole is a conversation piece — a 100-yarder to a green across 16th Street.

STEVE HOGAN

Par-3; 30th Street and Kansas Avenue The home of the First Tee of Omaha/Hogan's Junior Golf Heroes was reconfigured in the 1980s — golf has been played here since 1906 — and still has water come into play on the second and ninth holes. Holes range from 100 to 187 yards.

WARREN SWIGART

Par-3; 3865 Terrace Drive in the Maple Village neighborhood (north of 97th and Maple Streets) Home of the longest par-3 of the courses mentioned — the sixth hole is 228 yards. It follows a 102-yarder. The third hole plays uphill, followed by the downhill fourth.

WESTWOOD

Par-3; 129th Street and West Center Road Hell Creek cuts through it, with holes ranging from 90 to 175 yards. Except for a trek up to the third green, this course is mostly easy walking.

All courses have beer or alcohol sales except for city-owned Hogan, Swigart and Westwood. All have riding carts for rent.

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