• Above: Don Cloutman, a Burdett resident helping to organize the town’s first-ever Interplanetary golf tournament, putts through the tire obstacle at Rediscover Pluto on April 11.

    Left: Space facts are noted at every hole at the Rediscover Pluto miniature golf course in Burdett.

  • Monday morning, April 11, 2016. Through crowdfunding and a grant, the community was able to raise about $12,000 to renovate the 1970s-era course with a space theme. Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh grew up in Burdett.

  • This gazing ball is part of a solar system obstacle located at hole one at the Rediscover Pluto miniature golf course in Burdett, Monday morning, April 11, 2016.

  • Don Clautman, a Burdett resident helping to organize the town's first-ever Interplanetary golf tournament April 23, putts on hole 3 - or Earth hole - at the Rediscover Pluto miniature golf course in Burdett, Monday morning, April 11, 2016. In Burdett, folks still call Pluto a planet. Native son Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930.

  • Space facts are at every hole at the Rediscover Pluto miniature golf course in Burdett, Monday morning, April 11, 2016. Through crowdfunding and a grant, the community was able to raise about $12,000 to renovate the 1970s-era course with a space theme. Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh grew up in Burdett. And yes, in Burdett, hole nine is Pluto.

  • Hole 3 is the Earth hole at the Rediscover Pluto miniature golf course in Burdett, Monday morning, April 11, 2016. Burdett Pride members renovated the Pawnee County town's free course over the past year with a space theme - in honor of its native son, Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto.

  • Space facts are part of the redesign of the Rediscover Pluto miniature golf course in Burdett. Pluto was discovered by native Clyde Tombaugh.

  • Leonard Mostrom walks by the new sign at the Rediscover Pluto miniature golf course in Burdett, Monday morning, April 11, 2016. Mostrom works for the city and helped with the renovation of the space-themed course, which included adding the blue rubber clips and painting the course, as well as adding new obsticles and signage.

  • Space facts are part of the redesign of the Rediscover Pluto miniature golf course in Burdett. Pluto was discovered by native Clyde Tombaugh. Through crowdfunding and a grant, Burdett Pride raised $12,000 to complete the renovation of the town's free-to-use miniature golf course.

  • Clyde Tombaugh poses with the telescope through which he discovered the planet Pluto, at the Lowell Observatory on Observatory Hill in Flagstaff, Ariz., 1931. It has been nearly 75 years since Tombaugh first spotted the tiny icy planet on Feb. 18, 1930, and since then Pluto ‘s very classification as a planet has been questioned. Astronomers agree, though, that the discovery at Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory remains a remarkable one. (AP Photo/File)

  • Clyde Tombaugh uses the Zeiss Blink Comparator to search for the ninth planet in the solar system, now named Pluto, at Lowell Observatory near Flagstaff, Ariz., in this file photo circa 1930. Every schoolchild in Streator, Ill., is well-versed about the day in February 1930 when native son Tombaugh peered through his telescope at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., and noticed the tiny point of light that would later be called Pluto. But with an astronomy group now pushing to demote Pluto to a "minor planet" or even a "Trans-Neptunian" ice ball, outraged residents fear they're losing their claim to fame. (AP Photo/Lowell Observatory, HO)

  • Space facts are part of the redesign of the Rediscover Pluto miniature golf course in Burdett. Pluto was discovered by native Clyde Tombaugh.

  • Don Clautman, a Burdett resident helping to organize the town’s first-ever Interplanetary golf tournament April 23, talks about the course’s space-themed renovation. They call it the the Rediscover Pluto miniature golf course. Native son Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930.

  • A lighthouse provides an obstacle on one of the holes at the putt putt golf course located at the city park in Burdett.

  • Any golfer who successfully navigates past the lighthouse obstacle on one of the holes at the Burdett putt putt golf course will find the cup placed in the center of the "putting green" on the opposite side.

  • Leonard Mostrom, street and utilities superintendent, is visible through a tire obstacle at one of the holes on the small putt-putt course located at the city park in Burdett.

  • The city park in Burdett features a small putt putt golf course in addition to its playground equipment, a sand volleyball court, and shuffleboard. April 2014 file photo.

Putting for Pluto: It's still a planet at Burdett's newly renovated mini golf course

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

BURDETT - According to astronomers, Pluto is not a planet.

But at the solar-themed miniature golf course in Burdett, Pluto still gets the ninth hole.

"We consider Pluto a planet here in Burdett," says local resident Don Cloutman with a laugh, referencing the town's most famous son - Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto.

Pluto
Pluto

He stood amid the new Rediscover Pluto Miniature Golf Course, with its bright blue landscaping and planetary facts at each hole. The hard work and fundraising of the past two years are nearly complete - just in time for the course's first-ever interplanetary golf tournament on April 23.

Burdett's 40-year-old free miniature golf course finally got its face-lift. 

For the 1976 U.S. bicentennial, Burdett residents built a little park. About a year later, the local Lions Club constructed the free miniature golf course as another community betterment project.

Yet, over the years, the course fell into disrepair. It needed more than its normal sprucing, which involved city man Leonard Mostrom taking the hose off the fire truck and giving the course a good cleaning.

Pluto miniature golf course in Burdett

Space facts are at every hole at the Rediscover Pluto miniature golf course in Burdett, Monday morning, April 11, 2016. Through crowdfunding and a grant, the community was able to raise about $12,000 to renovate the 1970s-era course with a space theme. Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh grew up in Burdett. And yes, in Burdett, hole nine is Pluto.

Mostrom said the effort seemed to grow after rural Kansas promoters Marci Penner and WenDee LaPlant stopped by the course. The two got excited, realizing that, in an era where there aren't many miniature golf courses in Kansas, this was a gem amid the western Kansas landscape.

Moreover, it is free, said Penner, executive director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.

"We are so proud of them," said Penner of what has been accomplished in a short amount of time. "It has become a rural destination spot."

For more than two years, community leaders in the town of 250 people have been working to raise funds to renovate the course.

It was about that same time, in 2014, that Penner's Inman-based foundation launched a crowdfunding website, which is now called WeCanSupport. The site's aim is to help raise funds for rural Kansas projects.

The miniature golf course was among the pilot projects, which also included Garden City's Windsor Hotel cupola and Assaria's park project, Penner said.

Through crowdfunding, Burdett raised more than $7,000, said Katie Hammeke, who works at the area grain cooperative and is president of the Burdett Pride Committee.

Hammeke said they also received around $4,500 from the Golden Belt Community Foundation - raising $12,000 for the golf course project.

She said renovations began a year ago in the spring, with painting and other cleanup. A Larned furniture company donated the new carpet. A local businessman made the metal signs, which give a "cool space fact" at every hole.

For instance, Saturn has 57 moons. Mars has two polar ice caps. Jupiter has storms that could swallow the Earth twice.

Pluto miniature golf course in Burdett

Space facts are part of the redesign of the Rediscover Pluto miniature golf course in Burdett. Pluto was discovered by native Clyde Tombaugh.

By last fall, the new planetary course was taking shape, said Hammeke. There are still a few things to do, including some more hole obstacles to add, as well as signage. Moreover, a lighthouse that was incorporated into the originally designed course will be turned into a rocket, complete with "USA" on the side.

Also, Hammeke said, a "gazing globe" will be put at each hole - representing that hole's planet.

"It's been exciting," she said, adding it is already a popular spot. "I drive by and see lots of people using it."

Cloutman is among them, adding he spent the weekend putting around the course. He and Tony Schadel set par at 23, although Cloutman admitted that number "is arguable."

He'll find out how well folks do at the April 23 tournament, which will raise funds for the Burdett Senior Center. 

The overall winner will receive the "Kuiper Belt" buckle, named for the area of the solar system Pluto is now considered to be a part of.

There also will be a prize for the person in the best space costume, added Cloutman.

"We sound like a bunch of space cadets here in Kansas," Cloutman said with a laugh.

But in all seriousness, Burdett is proud of Pluto.

It was Burdett's Tombaugh, a farmer's son, who discovered Pluto in 1930 - five years after he graduated from Burdett High School. And for more than 60 years, it was considered the solar system's ninth planet.

20150125 hns pluto Clyde Tombaugh telescope
20150125 hns pluto Clyde Tombaugh telescope

After 1992, Pluto's status as a planet fell into question following the discovery of several objects of similar size in the Kuiper Belt.

Finally, in 2006, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet.

That doesn't matter in Burdett, said Cloutman. Relics of Tombaugh's past in the Pawnee County town still remain. The farmhouse Tombaugh lived in still stands. A sign on the outskirts of town tells his story.

And at Burdett's nine-hole golf course, Pluto still gets the nine spot.