TGIJ – Thank God it’s June.
Golf course owners can see some solace in temperatures that finally seem “normal” and has brought golfers out of hibernation from their man-caves the past few weeks.
“It was a rough winter indeed,” said Tom Schwark. “In fact we ended last year the earliest we ever have and we began the season this year the latest we’ve ever started. Golf course owners like to see average weather, and we haven’t seen too much of that so far. We just want normal weather and that’s a challenge.”
Schwark is the owner and president of Sycamore Hills in Macomb, named Golf Course of the Year in 2013. He also sits on the board of the Michigan Golf Course Owners Association, so he knows his course is going through the same issues facing so many others in Michigan.
The snowiest winter in Southeast Michigan history this year has been well documented. Schwark said recently that he feels some sympathy from the golfing public who know golf courses cannot control weather conditions, but he also felt compelled to give them a price break due to ice-damaged greens that may not be fully healed for another couple weeks. He said new grass seed didn’t even germinate until mid-May.
Schwark decided to cut league pricing for 9 holes and a cart from $25 to $21, “until the greens are where they should be.” He is also is charging less for outings. The end result of still using spring rates this late on the calendar Schwark says is an almost 20 percent dip in revenue compared to the same time frame in an average season.
This Memorial Day weekend was about the most perfect weather any golfer could beg for, and they responded. Courses across the region were buzzing with activity and at Sycamore Hills it was one of the course’s best holidays for rounds played in years. Schwark added that registrations for league play and outings are up from last year, “So there are things to be encouraged about.”
Tom Lang is a freelance writer who has written for the Detroit Free Press, Lansing State Journal, and GolfWeek. He is also a regular blogger for DBusiness.com.