Ron Walker would probably feel better about the slow start to the golf season, if it weren’t for the lackluster winter.
As co-owner of Green Mansions Golf Club on Darrowville Road in Chester, Walker opened the course Friday. But Green Mansions, located near a Northern Warren Trailblazers Snowmobile Club trail, is open all winter long, too, to accommodate snowmobile traffic, Walker explained.
“We’re one of the only stops with a bar and restaurant when you’re heading south on the trail,” Walker said. “If there are snowmobilers, it’s good for business. Unfortunately, the last two winters have not been kind.”
Last year, the impact of a record-warm winter was softened a bit by an early spring that allowed the course to open March 16. In 16 years of business, the course has opened just one other time before April 1, and it has never opened earlier than it did last year, he said.
This year, cool, wet weather has hindered the season’s kick-off for Green Mansions and several other area courses.
“We’re in great shape, actually,” Walker said Wednesday. “The greens came through the winter good. We just need a bit of warm weather to green them up.”
Richie Wagner, golf course manager at Thousand Acres Golf Club on Warrensburg Road in Stony Creek, is also hoping the weather takes a turn for the better. The ranch and golf course are located right on the Hudson River, which last year overflowed and inundated one of the resort’s hotel buildings, setting the business back about $1 million, Wagner said.
“We’ve got a lot against us this year,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like it’s going to be spring. It looks deserted and dead out there, and we hope the river doesn’t overflow again.”
Wagner officially opened the course Sunday, about two weeks later than last year, and he said the course is in great shape. The ranch has also added new ATV trails this year in an effort to attract more visitors, Wagner said.
Kingswood Golf Club in Kingsbury was set to open for the season in March, right before a storm dropped 10 inches of snow on the course, said General Manager Meg Woodbury.
“That’s the most (snow) we got all winter, and that probably set us back about two weeks,” she said.
Still, golfers have been enjoying the course already, and the Kingswood staff has taken extra steps to keep patrons from damaging areas still vulnerable because of the wet spring weather, Woodbury said.
Those efforts have included signs and ropes to cordon off certain parts of the course, as well as asking cart users to stick to paths and only cross fairways at a 90-degree angle.
As dismal as the season may seem so far, it has actually been pretty typical, according to North Country Weather Meteorologist Jeremy Davis.
“It’s only been below normal by seven-tenths of a degree for the month of April,” Davis said last week.
Precipitation was also tracking at normal levels, he said.
“The daytime highs have been a little bit on the cool side, but the nighttime low is 31.5 degrees, and that’s a little bit higher than where we should be.”
Average temperatures in March were also slightly above normal, and precipitation was just slightly above normal, Davis said.
“It’s just that we were spoiled in previous years, but there’s nothing terribly unusual about this at all,” he said.
At Country Meadows Golf Course on Route 149 in Fort Ann, Manager Susan Shovah is taking the dreary spring in stride. Catered parties and banquets have helped offset a slow start to the golf season, she said.
“People come out when they’re ready,” Shovah said. “They’re not going to come out in the cold and the wet, and we really don’t want them to come out and have a bad experience, so we want them to wait until the weather is good.”
Like others interviewed for this article, Sunnyside Par 3 Golf Course Manager Miles Nolan is offering discounts to get people into the swing of spring. But his course, which opened Easter weekend, benefits from a lot of league play.
“Five nights a week, we have golf leagues, and they’re almost all started now,” Nolan said. “People want to come out and play, but it seems like we get half a day of good weather and three days of bad weather.”