Lingering snow and frigid temperatures are keeping golf properties in Ohio, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Iowa closed into spring. Last year, Bunker Hills GC in Coon Rapids, Minn., had its earliest opening in 50 years on March 3, but has not hosted a single round yet this year.
Despite a bump in public interest thanks to the Masters, some golf courses across the country have to turn away prospective golfers due to inclement weather conditions.
—In the Mahoning Valley in Ohio, courses are in a slump, the Youngstown, Ohio Vindicator reported. “We’re behind where we were at this point last year. We’re behind by about 15-20 golf days,” said Ben Broderick, owner of Salem Hills Golf & Country Club in Salem, Ohio. “One thing that helps is that we have monthly fees from our members, which helps for the winter and the rough times.”
However, the real hazard is opening too soon. A damp course, plus golfers and carts can mean damage that can last well into the summer. At the county-owned Mill Creek Golf Course in Boardman, Ohio, there haven’t been any golfers though February and nearly all of March. That’s by choice as Mill Creek’s PGA Director of Golf, Brian Tolnar, decided to mostly sidestep a battle with Mother Nature by having the course’s opening day on March 30, the Vindicator reported.
“Two years ago, we would be open in the last week of February and the entire month of March. We didn’t get a chance to do that last year as well, so you kind of anticipate being open in mid-March,” Tolnar said. “With what’s happening now, we’re being pushed into the first week of April. You hope everybody still has the same [motivation] of coming out, hitting range balls, practicing and getting on the golf course.”
—Golf courses in Minnesota were still covered in white by the beginning of April, the Rochester, Minn.-based KIMT 3 reported.
“The last three years we’ve been open March 21, March 9, and March 12, and here it is today, April 8, and we’re not open yet,” said Scott Rindahl, Manager of Willow Creek Golf Course in Rochester. “Usually by this time we’ve been open a few weeks, with no revenue coming in, it hurts. Golf is so weather related, it’s a fact of life.”
Farther north in the state, Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids had its earliest opening day in its 50-year history last year when golfers hit the links on March 3. They had already logged thousands of rounds before the calendar turned to April. So far, the number of rounds played this year is zero, the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune reported.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” said Director of Golf Operations Tim Anderson. The course normally is open by April 1, but it might be another 10 days before that happens this year. But they won’t be booking many tee times until the weather improves, Anderson said.
—Allegheny County, Pa., has again postponed the opening date of its golf courses to April 13, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
“More than 10 feet of snow and nearly four inches of rain have fallen since the courses closed for annual maintenance on March 19,” a county news release said.
The rain and snowfall have hampered maintenance of the North Park and South Park golf courses, the release said. “Under these conditions, attempting any kind of work, such as mowing, aerating or rolling, could severely damage the courses,” Parks Director Andy Baechle said in the release. “We’re hoping that drier weather and warmer temperatures in the coming week will result in better conditions.”
—Golf properties in Des Moines, Iowa are experiencing similar conditions, the Des Moines Register reported.
“It is arguably one of the top three worst Marches I have ever experienced in approximately 25 years,” said Jason Marvelli, PGA Head Golf Pro of Indianola (Iowa) Country Club. “I’ll bet we didn’t do 300 rounds of golf in March.”
Employees at other courses in the area offered similar assessments of this year’s weather and the impact on course maintenance. “Right now, we’re kind of at a standstill until we know when we’re going to open for sure,” said Pat Piotrowski, General Manager and Superintendent of Deer Run Golf Club in Indianola last week. “It’s kind of all sensitive on the weather.”
Deer Run remained closed last week as did several other courses in the area. In Norwalk, Echo Valley Country Club opened its course in late March, and expects the tennis court to be open soon while the pool at the club typically opens around Memorial Day. Warrior Run Golf Course in Norwalk opened in March, the Register reported.
The Legacy Golf Club in Norwalk, Iowa opened in late February of this year but has been closed most of the weekends since then due to frigid temperatures. Likewise, Toad Valley Golf Course in Pleasant Hill, Iowa opened in early February but rounds of golf have been sparse, the Register reported.