Apartment hunters also trying to improve their golf handicap may want to look into Summit Fair Lakes, a 530-unit garden-style apartment complex in Fairfax that has just added an unusual amenity: a 10-hole putting green.

"How many places can you go and practice your putting? Not that many," said Bill Spencer, a self-described average golfer who has lived at Summit Fair Lakes for a year.

But not only golfers will be attracted to Summit Fair Lakes, which accepted its first tenants in May 1998. The rental property also features other amenities, including those easily found elsewhere, such as a 24-hour fitness center, as well as more unusual ones, such as a dry cleaners, a screening room and an indoor basketball court.

It was the abundance of amenities that first caught the attention of Sam and Laura Blackburn, a computer programmer and an Air Force major, respectively, who moved to the complex about a year ago. "There is so much we like" that it's difficult to choose the best thing about the complex, Laura Blackburn said.

For one thing, the location meant convenience for the Blackburns. The free shuttle to the Vienna station on Metro's Orange Line fits Laura Blackburn's needs: She takes Metro to her work at the Pentagon. The couple also enjoy bike riding, taking advantage of the paved trails that surround the property. "We can go anywhere by bike or on foot and not have to worry about traffic," she said.

The Blackburns live in a two-bedroom town house-style apartment, one of the 10 floor plans Summit Fair Lakes offers. The town house-style units have private garages and lofts. All of the apartments have a full-size washer and dryer, an oversize "garden" bath, nine-foot ceilings and either a balcony or a patio. Some units feature bay windows, skylights and gas fireplaces.

The complex had some fans even before it opened. Sue and Hal Stine, a homemaker and a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, waited for nine months to lease an apartment there. Their verdict now? "It was very worthwhile to wait for," Sue Stine said.

The couple had spent about a year looking for the ideal three-bedroom unit in the area. They checked out a lot of places, Stine said, but none had rooms of the size they wanted or the garage they sought. "When we saw this place, we knew this would be it," she said.

Summit Fair Lakes is a "piece of cake" to rent out, said Kimberly Mitchell, a regional property manager with Summit Properties Inc., the real estate investment trust that owns and manages the Fairfax complex. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company manages about 2,700 units in the Washington area.

It was Summit Properties' reputation that brought Dan Ickes to Summit Fair Lakes in the first place, he said. Ickes relocated with his wife, Judy, and their 5-year-old daughter, Rachel, to the Washington area from North Carolina and already knew the company and some of its complexes. Summit Fair Lakes looked to be a "very appealing community," he said. The complex is also very convenient to Ickes's work as a group vice president for the Northern Virginia YMCA.

Brian Dugan, an electrical contractor who moved to the community 10 months ago, also liked Summit Fair Lakes for its location. The complex is not only very close to his work but also near plenty of stores and major highways, such as the Fairfax County Parkway and Interstate 66, he said.

But if location first attracted Dugan, he has found other reasons to be pleased with his choice, and he already has attended several community get-togethers. "Things like that add a little extra to the place," he said.

For property manager Mitchell, who lives at the complex, resident interaction is very important in building a sense of community. She and a 10-person staff plan parties that have included happy hours, a luau by the pool, and a recent Halloween costume contest for the children and horror-movie night for the grown-ups.

Residents were able to enjoy "The Blair Witch Project" at the property's 25-seat screening room, available for tenants and also for business presentations and classes. Residents can bring their own video or choose one from the video library, which offers about 150 titles free and is constantly updated, Mitchell said.

But the big hit at Summit Fair Lakes is the putting green. According to Mitchell, some new residents cannot wait to use it--their golf equipment is the first thing they unpack.

Well, his golf clubs weren't among the first things resident Bill Spencer unpacked when he arrived a year ago, but they sure don't lie around unused in his two-bedroom apartment. How many times a month does he practice out on the putting green? "A month?" he responded. "How about a week--at least two or three times." After all, he said, he has a not-so-hot 13 handicap to overcome. "That's why I have to go there."

SUMMIT FAIR LAKES

12565 Summit Manor Dr.

Fairfax, Va. 22033

703-222-3086

* Application fee: $50

* Security deposit: None; $300 nonrefundable reservation fee

* Lease term: Six months to one year

* Utilities: Not included

* Amenities: Putting green; swimming pool; indoor basketball court; fitness room; video library; 25-seat movie screening room; conference room; business center; valet dry cleaner; car wash; tot lot; picnic and grill areas; walking and biking paths; storage; 24-hour maintenance service

* Parking: Free outdoor lot; garages, $150 to $175 a month

* Pet policy: Pets allowed; $400 nonrefundable fee; $20 monthly pet rent

APARTMENT SIZE QUANTITY SQUARE FEET MONTHLY RENTAL

1BR/1BA 122 780 $1,160 to $1,250

1BR/LOFT/1BA 4 974 $1,470

1BR/DEN/1BA 48 871 $1,265 to $1,330

2BR/2BA 170 1,024 $1,370 to $1,460

2 BR/2BA TH 36 1,455 to 1,476 $1,790 to $1,830

2BR/LOFT/2BA 50 1,239 to 1,255 $1,670 to $1,735

3BR/2BA 100 1,301 $1,590 to $1,680