Golfers get green light at courses

Published 2:48 pm Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lyle/Pacelli's Abby Leif chips a shot last May at the subsection golf meet in Hayfield. With recent warm weather, many area golf courses are opening soon. -- Eric Johnson/

Countless southern Minnesota golfers have been itching to hit the links. If they were lucky, they may have gotten a round in Wednesday.

Willow Creek of Rochester was one of the first area courses to open this year when it opened up the front nine holes and driving range Wednesday.

Although no courses around Austin have opened, Austinites may get a crack at the ball as soon as Friday, when Meadow Greens opens its fairways. Mike Grinstead, owner of Meadow Greens, has been preparing for this day for about a week.

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“As far as the outside goes, we’ve been waiting for Mother Nature to come around a bit,” he said. “This week, we just opened the clubhouse and got some new products in.”

Grinstead added he and his crew have been doing minor setup to get the facilities ready for a few days. By Friday, Grinstead’s crew will have all the signage, tee boxes and other necessities ready to go before afternoon.

“Nobody wants to open more than I do; believe me,” he said. Bad weather or not, Grinstead is set on Friday. “Nah, that’s not going to affect us — we’re going to be open,” he said.

However, if things are too wet, carts may not be available.

Several course representatives said it’s too early for them to open because snow is still on some of their greens. But mostly, they said overall course conditions look good. With grounds fairly wet and soft, there’s not a lot greens keepers can do to speed the process.

The Oaks in Hayfield is not far behind schedule and plans to open next week, according to the golf pro, Tom Bizina.

“It’s been a busy day answering the phone,” Bizina said Wednesday afternoon.

The Oaks’ staff is waiting a few more days for the course to dry and for snow to clear from a couple of the greens.

The Austin Country Club looks to open around April 12, give or take, according to General Manager Bill Budion.

The Country Club also has a few snow piles on greens, and staff wants to get some fertilizer down and get things in top shape before opening day.

“It’s just trying to make sure it’s a decent product specifically for our members,” Budion said.

Oak Summit of Rochester opens Thursday, March 31. Although weather may get nasty on Thursday, the course is in the clear from there on out with grounds that are already fairly dry.

Although Minnesota may still have some more wintry days ahead, course reps said weather won’t have any adverse affects on courses at this point. The golf season is here to stay.