Steamboat Springs golfers play through as autumn lingers
Steamboat Springs — Dec. 8, 1998, was mayhem, Haymaker Golf Course superintendent Bill Whelihan said, remembering back to the latest date Haymaker Golf Course has ever played host to golf.
Autumn that year was warm and dry and even though the course’s bar and grill was shut down, even though the pro shop wasn’t open, golfers came.
“It was craziness,” he said. “There were rollerbladers and people with dogs. They had strollers, bicycles. They were just showing up, heading out and playing.”
After Steamboat Golf Club closed on Sunday, Haymaker is the last of the city’s golf courses to remain open.
The course won’t reach Dec. 8 this year no matter what the weather does, but the staff was a little amazed Wednesday that it was still chugging along about a third of the way through November.
Haymaker closed early in November last season and didn’t make it out of October two years ago. Wednesday, however, golfers were still showing up, some local, some visitors.
There’s not actually a lot that goes into keeping the course open at this point, at least not compared to the maintenance of a mid-summer week.
That’s good because there’s not a lot of staff left to help — most of the season crew having come and gone.
Mowing is done for the season, and the bar and grill is closed, though bottled water and sodas are available for players in a cooler outside the shop.
The course was aerated in mid-October, so long ago the telltale holes have already filled in. The course is primed and ready for the winter, when it will become a cross-country ski center and will play host to sleigh ride dinners. The pro shop flips it Nordic switch Nov. 20.
Still, the golfers keep coming. The course was up 1.1 percent in rounds this year as of Oct. 25 and given the steady rate of players squeezing into the current 10 a.m. to dusk operating hours, that number’s going up.
“We were so busy last weekend we decided to bring the golf carts back out,” said Katie O’Hara, chairman of the Haymaker Golf Management Committee. “We have them out for this week and weekend, and we’ll see what happens next week. Snow’s not in the forecast until Thursday.”
A month ago a snowstorm may not have closed the course permanently, especially if the prospect of drier days lay ahead. Now, however, one flurry may be enough.
“Any snow will shut us down,” O’Hara said. “We’re getting down to the wire.”
The staff is already looking ahead to next year.
A new fleet of golf carts — loaded with USB phone chargers — will arrive. Crews also plan to attack and re-build the par-three tee boxes and, using Haymaker’s reserve funds, there are plans to build new restrooms on the course.
For now, though, they’re waiting out 2016.
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