Local greens look good after long winter ; golfers ready to tee up for another season

Bradley Bouzane
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Since Christmas Day, when many avid golfers wake up to find unusable clubs staring at them, they have waited patiently for the courses to open for another year.

The waiting game is now over, as most golf courses on the province's east coast have the grass trimmed, the flags in and are ready to go for another year.

Photo illustration by Dan Helmbold/The Telegram photos by Photos.com

Since Christmas Day, when many avid golfers wake up to find unusable clubs staring at them, they have waited patiently for the courses to open for another year.

The waiting game is now over, as most golf courses on the province's east coast have the grass trimmed, the flags in and are ready to go for another year.

"Despite the weather, everything looks great," said Trevor Morris, general manager of The Woods at the Southlands at The Willows at Holyrood.

"The winter was fantastic (to our the courses), it was too long, but other than that, it was good. We haven't seen any real sunshine (this spring), but the courses look great. The greens look fantastic - probably the best they've come out in years."

The Woods opens today, while The Willows beat them to the punch when they starting accepting golfers on April 20.

It seems today is the prime time for welcoming over-anxious golfers who are chewing at the bit to get out and scrape off the rust left over from 2006 and first five months of 2007.

Bruce Crichton, general manager of Bally Haly, is also expecting a hectic day today, as that club starts a new golf season.

Crichton said 200 golfers have already signed up to tee off throughout the day and expects more to come out as opening day progresses.

The start of the 2007 season is about a week behind schedule for the oldest course in St. John's and only private club in the city, but Crichton is worried much.

"It really had to do with the winter and early spring and that we've had no (warmer) temperatures," said Crichton, adding 216 people dusted off their clubs and hit the fairways during the first day of the new season in 2006. "It's just a freak year, but it's not a concern.

"The greens are in good shape for this time of year considering the weather we've had."

The course is welcoming tee times starting at 7 a.m.

Along with The Woods and Bally Haly, the two Terra Nova courses - Twin Rivers and Eagle Creek - will also be open for business today.

Pippy Park's Admiral's Green and Captain's Hill courses are set to open May 18.

Clovelly's Osprey and Black Duck courses on the other hand, have been up and running since April 27.

The two courses, located in the Stavanger Drive area, seem to be quite resilient, as golfers avail of an extremely long season, with the courses staying open some years until Dec. 23.

Clovelly general manager Greg Healy credits top-of-line maintenence equipment and bent grass for allowing them open early and extend their season into December.

Since the courses opened, Healy admits poor weather has kept business slow, but even the slightest sign of summer - such as Wednesday's 19C temperatures - are a good indication of things to come.

He said there was more than 400 golfers out Wednesday, despite the strong winds.

For The Woods, this year marks the second season since it remained closed for the entire 2005 season because winter damage to the course was so severe, that months were needed to repair and alter the course design to better accomodate spring thaw.

Since reopeing last year, however, Morris said the 18-hole par-70 course, has seen vast improvement across the board.

"We still have work to do, but we've changed a lot of opinions on where this property is and where it's going," said Morris of The Woods, which added 700 yards to its total once it started up again. "This course is a challenge now for anybody (of any level)."

He said the full season of down time gave course workers and administration an opportunity to educate themselves on what was needed to help them cope with hard Newfoundland winters to make the course better from the time it opened for the first round.

Organizations: The Willows, Southlands, Eagle Creek

Geographic location: St. John's, Terra Nova, Twin Rivers Pippy Park Black Duck Stavanger Drive Newfoundland

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