Tee times flying as courses open
Mild winter means golf season starts early for most area links
The lack of snow and a sunny weekend in the forecast have several golf courses preparing to open even with four weeks left of winter.
The city of Spokane’s Creek at Qualchan opened Wednesday, and most tee times were taken from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tee times were quickly filling up for the next few days, said Randy Buckenburger, assistant pro at Qualchan.
Golfers who completed the course Wednesday afternoon praised conditions.
“It’s in great shape for February,” said Spokane resident Al Hogan.
John Rotell, who golfed with Hogan, added: “Isn’t it great? You can golf in the morning and ski in the afternoon.”
For the past two years many area courses didn’t open until late March.
“We would certainly hope that it would help with our operational costs because the last two years have been more challenging with the never-ending winters,” said Doug Chase, Spokane County’s park director.
Last year, Spokane County’s MeadowWood course in Liberty Lake opened March 20, said Bob Scott, MeadowWood’s head pro. The course usually opens closer to March 10. This year, it will open Friday – the earliest opening in the 14 years Scott has worked there, he said.
Course officials say they’ll watch the weather and will consider closing if snow or cold temperatures reappear. But for now, the National Weather Service is predicting sunny conditions with highs in the mid- to upper-40s through Monday.
“As long as it stays above freezing and stays reasonably dry, it should be good,” Buckenburger said.
Steve Conner, the golf professional at Downriver Golf Course, said today’s opening at the city course will be only the second time Downriver has opened in February in the past two decades.
“If we have a good spring, we tend to have a good year,” Conner said. “Time is our commodity. Once it’s gone, we can’t make it up.”