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The Dangerous Dance

Every spring, when winter disappears earlier than normal, a double-edged sword also emerges.

The battle to get the golf course open early or wait it out.

It is not an enviable position and one most golfers fail to fully understand.

We are seeing that in Ontario this year as a warm winter and minimal snow cover is putting every golfer in a frenzy at the beginning of March.  The trouble is that the majority of golf courses are just not ready for an influx of customers.

They would love to be, but that is just not realistic.

We will see a few golf courses in Eastern Ontario open their fairways to golfers on St. Patrick’s Day weekend but the majority will wait it out.

“We’re just not ready for the season,” said one golf course manager in the Ottawa area that preferred we not put his name in print.  “It might be warm out but golfers are crazy to think golf courses can just pop open the doors and do business.  Our schedule will get adjusted a bit because of the weather but we pretty much have to plan for our regular opening time.  We still have staff to train and a golf course to prepare properly.  Anybody opening now seems to be just grabbing for cash to beat out the competition.  That might be okay for them but we don’t want to do damage that will have a long term impact on our course during the year.”

Those sentiments seem to be common for many operators I spoke to in the last few days as we prepared our course opening list.  Most clubs in Eastern Ontario and the Outaouais will have earlier opening dates than normal but they are just not ready to be open NOW.  They would love to take advantage of the eager audience and the possibility of income after the annual winter break but unlike a retail store it takes more than an open door and a working cash register to do business.

They need staff and a golf course ready for action.  At least ready enough to be played on without the threat of damage that could affect play for the rest of the year.

So enjoy the courses that are ready to open but save your criticism for those who choose to do what is right for them.

Face it, in this part of the world we’re lucky to be even talking about this issue.

More often than not we’re still thinking about using our snow shovels at this time of year, certainly not our golf clubs.

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