The weekenders are flocking back to the golf courses. Familiar faces are beginning to appear at Twin Shields and Northwest Park and Algonkian. They'll soon be waiting in line at Greendale, Needwood, Twin Lakes and Falls Road.

The addicts, too, have had a tough winter, but somehow they managed to find a few places to play, even in the worst kind of weather. Now, with the smell of springtime in the air, their monopoly of frozen turf is coming to an end. They must again compete with the weekenders for starting times.

Washington is far from the nation's golf capital - not a mecca for golfing tourists, like Pinehurst; no big annual event, like Augusta; no holy land, where golfers and golf clubs are pictured on gravestones, like St. Andrews.

But area weekenders appear unconcerned. At the first sign of spring they're our hacking away, and for many of them "nearby" means any course within easy driving distance of the Beltway. This includes more than a hundred courses, without counting Annapolis or Baltimore. Needless to say, it also includes a few litle well-worn beginners' courses along with the many first-class and champooonship layouts. There's enough variety to please the duffers, the hackers, the high handicappers and those incredible characters who shoot from scratach.

To play every course in the metropolitan area - good and bad, public and private, 18 holes a day, rain or shine - would require more than three months and a walk (or cart ride) of well over 300 miles. The number of public courses has shot up in the past few years, and more than a third of all area courses are now open to the public. That means things are liiking up if you're continually searching for greener pastures - and, perhaps, for that one course you can really tear apart.

Here's a sampling. If you know of a course not listed here, please share it.