By Joyce Erekson
Golfers in these parts are a hardy lot and that’s a good thing given the fickle weather they battle every spring when they’re itching to break out the clubs.
This spring, like many, has been a tease. Gannon Golf Course opened Tuesday, March 8, and two months later, the weather is jfinally starting to heat up.
“We got off to an early start,” Golf Management Facilities Inc. Secretary/Treasurer Chris Carter said. “That was our earliest opening of all time. Last year, with all the snow on the ground, we didn’t open until April 11. That’s a huge difference.”
Then Mother Nature lowered the boom. There was a late season snow event that closed the course for about a week and a rainy stretch earlier this month that dampened spirits a bit.
“It’s been like a rollercoaster ride,” Carter said, adding, however ,that even with the ups and downs the kinder and gentler winter (compared to 2014-2015) left the course in better shape than the year before.
“The golf course bounced back faster,” Carter said.
It was a busy off-season for GFMI, the copmapny that runs the golf course. The newly drawn up master plan made a number of recommendations including one to improve turf quality. That involved removing a lot of the larger trees around the greens to allow more light to hit the course which in turn helps prevent ice damage.
Carter said a company came in back in January and removed approximately 400 trees. Carter said this is a challenge faced by a lot of courses. GFMI, under the direction of its president, Steve Murphy, is doing the cleanup, which involves grinding down the stumps and seeding. Some of the other off-season work included replacing the heating system in the clubhouse, building a few tee boxes and repairing some car paths. There was also work done in the men’s and women’s lockerrooms.
Carter said the next big thing willl be replacing the irrigation system. Carter said Murphy has done a great job keeping it repaired for years, but the current system dates back to 1963. Most systems are expected to last 20-25 years, he said.
Increasing membership has also been an ongoing project. Carter said the course has been able to maintain its membership, which means bringing in new members to replace the older members who, finding themselves unable to play, give up their memberships.
Increasing the junior membership numbers is also a priority, Carter said, noting that the junior numbers, up around 100 at one team, plummeted and are just starting toe creep back up (to 25). Along those lines, Carter said, a new program is going to launch in mid-June that allows and existing member or someone who just uses teh course for a day, to pay the greens fees and bring a junior golfer for free. That will be offered late on Saturday afternoons.
“We’re trying to rejuvenate the junior pro
gram,” he said, adding that Gannon will host two NEPGA Junior tournaments this summer.
This Monday, Memorial Day, Gannon will hold a service at 11 a.m. to remember members who passed away over the past year. Families of the late members (Carter estimated that about 16 members or people who were members at one time died this past year) will be treated to breakfast courtesy of the Ganno an excellent job organizing tournament and David Sibley, who is in his third year as the Gannon golf pro, has done a great job and is an ambassador of sorts. He also commended Kim Diamond for the excellent job she does with the food service.