Mild winter into early tee timesPut on the shoes, the gloves and bring the sticks out of the closet. It’s time to go golfing.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Put on the shoes, the gloves and bring the sticks out of the closet. It’s time to go golfing.
Heart River Golf Course and Pheasant Country Golf Course have opened almost a month earlier than expected due to the mild end-of-winter weather.
“It’s definitely uncommon,” said Jeremy Davis, Heart River club professional. “It caught us off guard a little bit, but it’s welcome. I’ve got a lot of excited golfers that have been playing already.”
Heart River opened last Saturday and Pheasant Country has seen people flock to the course since it opened Tuesday.
“They are coming,” Pheasant Country head professional Kirby Robb said.
Heart River’s numbers have been steadily increasing throughout the week. It had 90 golfers Wednesday, 120 Thursday and 186 teed off Friday.
“We did kind of a soft opening,” Davis said. “We didn’t really advertise for (last) weekend. We started advertising this week.”
The one course that isn’t open and has set to tentatively open on March 30 is Bully Pulpit Golf Course in Medora. The ground hasn’t completely thawed out and club professional Dave Solga said, right now, it’s not worth the risk.
“Golf courses are really venerable to rutting, foot printing, cart traffic marks, when the frost is actually coming out of the ground, because the ground is so soft,” he said. “You can cause more damage than it is actually worth opening up before that process is completely out of the ground.”
Robb and Davis were also waiting for the ground to thaw out before golfers took to the links.
“It’s warm outside, but the ground is still cold,” Robb said. “Greens are the No. 1 priority at your golf course. You don’t want traffic on the green that are still frozen. It’s not good for them.”
With the ground unthawed, Heart River and Pheasant Country opened their doors in hopes of alleviating revenue lost from the past three years.
“We’ve lost revenue the last three years, because of late openings and long winters,” Davis said. “It’s kind helping to make up for that. Hopefully we won’t get a blizzard here late spring, but we’re almost expecting that.”
Though spring officially beings Wednesday, Robb shares the same thought with Davis that winter isn’t over yet.
“There’s a lot of winter left,” Robb said. “March and April and I’ve seen it snow here in June before.”
Despite winter not being over, the mild winter has led to much-needed moisture on the golf courses. Solga hopes the slightest bit of rain is in the forecast soon.
“With as much moisture as we need, any rain would be welcome,” Solga said with a laugh. “It’s not like it’s going to tear us up. It’s going to be beneficial. We need the moisture so darn bad.”
Both Heart River and Pheasant Country have all 18 holes open to the public. Bully Pulpit, which saw extensive flood damage last year, won’t have all 18 holes open to start the season.
However, Solga said the entire 18 holes should be open shortly after March 30.
Though there has been much excitement about golf so early in the season, Robb said he wants the feeling to last the entire year.
“We are just excited and hoping for a long season for once,” Robb said. “The last three years have been pretty short.”