Cold March Freezes Out Local Golfers
Rounds are way down this month at Heritage Bluffs and Wedgewood—but the anticipation of a new season dawning is building at both golf courses.
So, if you’ve been wondering just how much colder it’s been this March vs. last March, then consider this bit of startling news from a couple of local golf course pros.
From March 1 to March 19 last year, 1,300 rounds of golf already had been played at Wedgewood, one of the Joliet Park District’s three golf courses. This year, 16 rounds were played during that same time period, Wedgewood golf pro Jason Shook said.
And Brian Smith, the golf pro/manager at Heritage Bluffs Golf Club in Channahon, had much of the same kind of news to report. Smith said it’s been so wet and so cold in recent days members of his grounds crew were working Tuesday afternoon to chip ice out of the cups on many of the holes at Heritage Bluffs.
“The flags are frozen in the holes or the ice has pushed the flags out so they won’t go back in,” Smith said. “They’re out there with screwdrivers chipping away. We’re just trying to get them thawed out in case the weather breaks a little this weekend and guys want to get out on the course.”
Smith said 1,115 rounds of golf were played between March 1-19 last year at Heritage Bluffs. The number this year? Eight.
“March and February have not been very playable months,” he said. “We did well in December and January. But lately we’ve been shut out. You can’t control the weather.”
Last year, the temperature reached 80 degrees in March—more than once.
“Last March was one that we’ve never seen before and might never see again,” Shook said. “It was just unbelievably warm. But, in a lot of years, March isn’t much of a factor for us as far as rounds played goes.
“That one last year—1,300 rounds—that’s probably equal to the amount of rounds for the 5-6 years previous all together. April 1 is more traditionally the opening of the golf season in our area.”
If you been outside lately, you’ll understand why. Temperatures consistently have been running 15-25 degrees below normal—readings in the 30’s this week leading many to long for a repeat of last March’s record run, say nothing of an excuse to break out the shorts.
“Take today—it looks nice,” Shook said of the bright sunshine on Tuesday. “But it’s chilly and that wind is really blowing.”
Wind chill levels dipped into the single-digits on Tuesday morning.
Shook said some avid golfers still have stopped by Wedgewood to use the range (they’re hitting golf balls off mats) or to have a drink in the clubhouse. He said all four clubhouse TVs will be tuned to NCAA tournament basketball action this weekend.
“Some guys just want to come out and be with their friends and be at the golf course,” Shook said. “If it’s over 40, I’ll be out here or one of the members of my staff will be here to let carts out.”
While rounds are down at Heritage Bluffs, Smith said gift certificate sales are running at a brisk clip and interest in golf is approaching the heyday of Tiger Woods—in part because of TV golf coverage and Woods’ recent charge back to the Tour spotlight.
“We have good golf on TV,” Smith said. “Tiger’s playing well again. There have been some really good finishes. Anticipation is building. We have some great new equipment. Everybody’s itching to come out of the box.”
Now, if only the weather man would cooperate.