Record Early Openings for New England Golf Courses | NECN

Record Early Openings for New England Golf Courses



    The staff at Granite Links in Quincy, Mass. says the early opening is great for business and employees, but it does present its challenges, too (Published Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014)

    (NECN: Eileen Curran, Quincy, Mass.) - The unseasonably warm weather is allowing local golf courses to open early. Granite Links in Quincy, Mass. opened last week and, while this is good news for their business and more income for their employees, the early opening does present a few challenges.

    Gerry Dickhaut of Waltham, Mass. was supposed to be at work on Wednesday, but the lure of the links proved too much.

    “I’m playing hooky today,” he said laughing.  “The boss knows about it; he said it’s ok.”

    The sun hadn’t even completely risen yet and the golfers were already showing up at Granite Links.

    First, they warmed up on the driving range, practicing their swings.

    Then they hit the course.  Steve Whitney of Westwood, Mass. is a stay-at-home dad.

    “I sent them (the kids) to school, hopped in the car and came right here,” he said.

    Thanks to record-breaking warmth, this was the earliest opening ever for the course, March 15, which is certainly good for the bottom line.

    “This year we went from zero to the middle of July in a day or two,” said Chris Sleeper, who is the PGA Director of Golf Operations.

    Sleeper is happy to be back in business, but said the early opening isn’t without its challenges.

    “You just don’t have all your staff back yet; seasonal staff isn’t here. Even merchandise in the pro shop isn’t being delivered yet.”

    Head Superintendent Brad McDonald has nearly twice as many workers grooming the course now than he would normally have at this time of year.

    While he’s excited for the early opening, he does wish we had had more snow this winter for the course’s sake.

    “The snow provides protection from the wind, and as you can kind of see today it’s pretty windy up here a lot. It just protects us a little bit,” he said. “The moisture from the snow helps usually to warm up the ground as the sun comes out it warms up the water, so we are a little dryer than normal.”

    The golfers aren’t complaining.

    “To have conditions like this early in the spring is unbelievable,” said Whitney.

    Mike Regan, of Quincy, Mass. was sporting shorts.  

    “I thought I’d be out in shorts skiing in March so this is a little different.”

    Last year, Granite Links opened on March 29. The weather was cold and in the 40s.

    You can see why more than a few people will be playing hooky in the next few days.