Area golf courses set to open

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Eric Schmoldt
Thursday, February 16, 2017

JANESVILLE--Some years, area golfers’ clubs are still collecting dust well past Easter Sunday.

In others, players can tee it up with their valentine.

“That’s golf in Wisconsin,” said Lance Marting, PGA professional and general manager at the Janesville Country Club. “You take it when you can get it.”

This year, area courses are ready to take advantage of an opportunity to open for play in February.

Marting said he’s already had players out on his course in 2017, though golf carts have yet to be put in play.

Janesville’s Riverside and Blackhawk public courses will open Friday for walkers only. Riverside will allow 30 carts onto the course beginning Saturday.

Glen Erin Golf Club has similar plans. The course will open to walkers at 1 p.m. Friday, with carts allowed on the weekend. Rob Vega, general manager and managing partner, said Wednesday at 5 p.m. the course’s tee times before 1 p.m. were completely booked for both Saturday and Sunday. The course had put out an email blast and posted the news of its opening on Facebook just eight hours earlier.

“We know we’ve got another lump coming, probably another snowstorm at some point, but we’re ahead of the game,” Vega said. “And this is going to be a lot of fun for everybody.”

A staff member at Prairie Woods said Wednesday that officials there would assess the course today before determining when or whether to open for play.

Friday’s forecast calls for a high temperature of 57 degrees, and the area could top out in the 60s Sunday and Monday.

“We’re trying to do a lot of things that weren’t on the normal to-do list … but that’s good,” said Steve Loomis, general manager and head PGA pro for Riverside and Blackhawk. “I know that we haven’t been open in February since I’ve been here, so six years.

“Some of the players were saying in 2004 or 2005 that they played a round here in every month for a year. And in 2012 we were open for like six days in January, but not in February since I’ve been here.”

Vega has been at Glen Erin for 13 years and said the course has never taken in revenue from greens fees in the month of February.

Marting recalled the El Nino year of 2000, when the country club was completely open for play by the end of February and never closed back down.

“It happens, but not very often,” he said. “Us golfers, the whole bunch of us are pretty crazy, so we’ll take every opportunity we can.”

Course conditions certainly won’t be summerlike, with frost still in the ground and ice coating parts of courses. But greens are expected to be open; sometimes courses create temporary greens when their permanent greens are damaged or in a condition that could leave them damaged if put in play.

“You always worry about greens first,” Loomis said. “But the weather forecast is great. I’d think we’ll do more than 100 golfers per day when we can do carts. We’ll do 30 carts to start and then see from there.”

A wait-and-see approach will likely be necessary at all courses, depending on how long-range forecasts develop and change in the coming days and weeks.

“Once you open the course, there’s this mentality that you don’t close,” Vega said. “But now we’ve got to kind of think outside the box.”


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