LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Some of the state's small golf courses are in the rough. In fact, Kentucky’s parks department is shutting down most of them.

The 9-hole golf course at General Butler State Park in Carrollton is now little more than a scenic walking trail.

The parks department chose not to reopen the course after it closed for the season last fall. The reasons, the department says, were fewer golfers and rising expenses.

“Regardless of how much play they get, you have to keep the grass watered, use fertilizer. You got to cut the grass, all those things,” said Gil Lawson, spokesman for the Kentucky Parks Department.

It's not just Butler. The state had operated 9-hole courses at four of its state parks.

Butler is already closed, Carter Caves shuts down April 2 and Kincaid Lake on Oct. 31.

Only the course at John James Audubon Park in Henderson will remain.

“We initially had asked for proposals for people to manage the courses," Lawson said. "We did not get any responses."

Lawson says the state parks are reflecting a national decline in golf. The number of rounds played at its 9-hole courses dropped from 11,953 in 2012 to 8,475 last year.

Louisville's Metro Parks Department has seen a similar downward trend at its nice golf courses, from 268,424 rounds played in 2012 to 227,994 in 2015.

Play did spike back up to 242,057 rounds in 2016.

“Golf competes with a lot of things these days ... mainly for people's time,” Lawson said.

Park visitor Claude Bentley says he never played the Butler course but was sad to learn of its closure. 

“There's not very many golf courses around, so it did hurt to lose one,” he said.

Lawson says the state will try to find an alternate use for the golf courses to attract more paying customers.

“We closed a golf course several years ago at Ken Lake in western Kentucky. It was a 9-hole golf course. It is now being used as an archery range,” he said.

Lawson says there are no plans to shut down any of state's dozen 18-hole courses.

“We plan to promote them and use them as much as we can. But generally, golf is down.”

The parks department says the employees who kept the golf greens green will be reassigned to other jobs.

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