Winter has finally relented, and many folks who were cooped up for months are ready to get outside.
Several are ready to play golf.
How did area courses fare during the harsh winter?
Cold and wet conditions kept facilities closed a few weeks longer than usual, but most places are in pretty fair shape and open for business.
Black Squirrel Golf Club, a public layout in Goshen, has been open for two weeks and play has been steady.
"We're in really good shape, believe it or not," said second assistant pro Cameron Zentz on Monday, April 7. "We're getting back into the swing of things."
Old Orchard Golf Course, a public track in Elkhart, opened its back nine a week ago and its front nine Sunday, April 6.
Area Golf Courses
- Black Squirrel Golf Club, 1017 Larimer Drive, Goshen. Phone: 574-533-1828.
- Four Lakes Country Club, 22786 U.S. 12, Adamsville, Mich. Phone: 269-699-5701.
- Garver Lake Golf Course, 25320 May St., Edwardsburg, Mich. Phone: 269-663-6463.
- Juday Creek Golf Course, 14770 Lindy Drive, Granger. Phone: 574-277-4653.
- McCormick Creek Golf Course, 1300 N. Oakland Ave., Nappanee. Phone: 574-773-2725.
- Meadow Valley Golf Club, 57600 S.R. 13, Middlebury. Phone: 574-825-3422.
- Old Orchard Golf Course, 24682 C.R. 16, Elkhart. Phone: 574-293-1121.
- Parmore Golf Course, 68279 S.R. 15, New Paris. Phone: 574-831-4434.
- Raber Golf Course, 1417 W. Vistula St., Bristol. Phone: 574-848-4020.
- Timber Ridge Golf Club, 12507 C.R. 44, Millersburg. Phone: 574-642-3252.
- Bent Oak Golf Club, 3610 Bent Oak Trail, Elkhart. Phone: 574-295-1602.
- Christiana Creek Country Club, 116 W. Bristol St., Elkhart. Phone: 574-264-3025.
- Elcona Country Club, 56784 C.R. 21, Elkhart. Phone: 574-295-4210.
- Knollwood Country Club, 16633 Baywood Lane, Granger. Phone: 574-277-1541.
- Maplecrest Country Club, 611 Hackett Road, Goshen. Phone: 574-533-3079.
Long-time Old Orchard superintendent Steve Gruza was bracing for the worst.
"I was concerned," Gruza said. "The length of snow cover is one of the things that encourage snow mold. I was pleasantly surprised when everything melted."
Snow mold is a fungus that turns the grass on greens and fairways slimy. It is usually temporary and can be removed with raking and sunshine.
"We are tired of winter," Gruza said. "It's very rare we do not open the third week of March."
Christiana Creek Country Club, a private course in Elkhart, has been busy since Sunday, March 30, and has already witnessed its first hole-in-one.
Busy enough that he was asked to start on No. 12, CCCC member Greg West turned his first swing of the season into his fourth lifetime hole-in-one.
"(The course) came through the winter fantastic," said Christiana Creek head pro John Fischer. "There's not too much ice damage or snow mold."
Fischer said things could have been worse.
"With the bad winter, we thought there might be some problems on the greens," Fischer said. "We sprayed a preventative (chemical) on there.
Bent Oak Golf Club, a private course in Elkhart, opened April 1 and has been asking players to stay on the cart paths after all the rain of last week.
"In general, we came through the winter OK," said Bent Oak part-timer Terry Clerc. "I don't think there were any surprises. We've mowed the greens twice and they're greened up pretty good."
The first day of play at Raber Golf Course in Bristol was March 30. Course operator Jeff Carmien reports a typical spring start-up at the 27-hole public course.
"There was minimal damage to the greens and maybe a little extra debris," Carmien said. "I know people are ready to get outside and do things."
Maplecrest Country Club, a private facility in Goshen, had not yet opened for play early Monday, but head pro Jared Frederick said the course came through the winter as well as usual.
"We haven't found anything surprising yet," Frederick said. "We applied chemical treatments before winter that makes grass strong enough to get through winter."
While it may be too early to tell, Frederick said it may be hard to make up the potential rounds already lost.
"Northern Indiana people tend to be ready to put their clubs away around Labor Day," said Frederick. "But once this weather breaks, we should be very busy."
Four Lakes Country Club, a public course in Adamsville, Mich., opened Monday, March 31.
PGA general manager Gary Koenes said that is a couple of weeks behind what is typical at Four Lakes.
"In the golf business, any golf you get in March is a bonus," Koenes said. "Really, your season begins April 1. You always open as soon as you can."
Koenes said Four Lakes handled the winter rather well and was bypassed by winter kill, a condition that kills grass after prolonged ice coverage, especially on greens, and seen as prevalent in certain parts of the state by the Michigan Golf Course Superintendents Association.
Business at Four Lakes was booming all day on Sunday.
"There is a real need to get outside," Koenes said.