DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – At the most famous golf tournament in the world, Thursday’s high temperatures reached 74 degrees on a sun-soaked Day 1 of the Masters.
More than a thousand miles northwest of Augusta, Georgia, northeast Wisconsin residents dealt with yet another wet day in 30-40 degree temperatures – and another week of struggling to get on the golf course.
2022 brought the wettest month of March northeast Wisconsin has ever seen, and because of that, most area golf courses remain closed.
Still-frozen soil has made life difficult for groundskeepers, and with rain littering the forecast on a near-daily basis, standing water is a common sight at Green Bay area courses.
“We are at the mercy of the weather,” said Steve Payant, Director of Golf at Ledgeview Golf Course in De Pere. “We’re the only place open for a while here and people usually know that, however this year, we’re having some tough times getting open and staying open.
“You have frost still on the ground, the golf course is still holding a lot of water, the maintenance crew can’t get out and cut or remove sticks from the winter wear and tear on the golf course, so this year it’s been a little slow go to get started.”
Despite the conditions, public interest remains strong and the flood of calls to golf shops and driving ranges is reflecting that.
Still, clubhouses are preaching patience. If the grounds superintendents say the course is ready to play, directors will give the green light.
“The phone’s ringing, the tee times are being made or are trying to be made,” Payant said. “I’m answering every question and every call I can so you know that everyone else, just like us, is itching to get out here or get out on a golf course.
“You know that people want to play. I mean we all want to play. We all want to be out here, we all want to be outside, but you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature.”
Through the long winter and spring months, golfers have found other ways to satisfy their itch. More and more indoor simulators are popping up around northeast Wisconsin, and places like Mr. Golf have gotten high demand as the bad weather continues.
“We do have a lot of people coming in the door every day based on, ‘Can we rent your simulators?'” said Rob Robinson, Mr. Golf’s head club fitter. “We’re so busy selling clubs right now that we’re having a hard time just renting out, so we do have some after hours.
“We’re full after hours, we do have some people come in before hours just to get that fix that they’re looking for since we can’t go outside.”
As the weather turns, Mr. Golf will look to reopen its year-round driving range and, hopefully, capitalize on the heightened golf interest surrounding the professional major championships.
“When we do see major events going on, it draws more (of the) general public’s attention,” Robinson said. “Now the last couple [of] years, the golf industry has gone up incredibly. It’s been great for our business.”
“We’re building a new store that will be in by Christmas, with six simulators to hopefully help our customers get that fix covered a little bit better.”
Until then, however, Mr. Golf and the rest of the golf industry will hope for a warm, dry season sooner than later.