Ever since Billy Bomar purchased the Prairie Falls Golf Club in 2014, he’s made it a habit to rib his former colleagues in Alaska about how early in the year he gets to open his golf course in Post Falls.
Not this year.
The freakishly cold and snow-laden February has kept golfers away from most area golf courses as drifts slowly melted. As a result, the local golf venues are just now letting hackers swing away.
“The latest we ever got started was March 16,” Bomar said. “Normally, I call (Alaska friends) all winter long and brag how it’s warm and we are playing. But they got their earliest start ever. In Anchorage, they got to golf in March.”
Despite the cold and deep snow, most golf officials say their courses came out relatively unscathed. It just took a long time for the snow to melt, and it’s hurt the bottom line of courses that rely on golfers seeking an early start to the season.
“Four or five years ago, all the (Spokane) city courses opened around Valentine’s Day,” said Chad Gunn, the assistant pro at Downriver Golf Course in Spokane. “But this is by far the latest we’ve opened in the 22 years I’ve been” in Spokane. “We’ve never opened as late as the last weekend in March.”
But once Downriver opened the fairways, golfers flooded in.
“We had roughly 200 players every day,” Gunn said. “We’d get more if daylight was longer.”
Nick McCaslin, the head pro at Kalispel Golf and Country Club in north Spokane, said the cold weather kept course officials from leveling several par-three tee boxes.
“We are still on target for our opening day tournament on April 13,” he said. “The main thing was (February snow) kind of slowed us down on projects we were hoping to get done on the golf course.”
As snow drifts piled up, members flocked to the courses three golf simulators, which have 97 championship courses loaded into the software.
“It helped, definitely, having those to ease some of the pain,” McCaslin said. “Obviously, we had a lot of members who were excited and itching to get outside.”
Avondale Golf Club in Hayden still has nine holes covered with snow, general manager Jason Jerman said.
“It’s really frustrating. In early February, it looked like we were opening early,” he said. “Then the snow came … and we’ve been under snow all spring.”
The course partially opened on Thursday.
“Every day, (golfers) call looking for an update,” Jerman said.
Gunn, at Downriver, said the late start will make it difficult for several courses to make expected revenue.
“It does hurt,” Gunn said. “The calendar is only so long. In the first part of November, you shut down. When you open that much later, you never get that back.”
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