This is a piece originally posted on Sioux Falls Business with Jodi Schwan.

It’s the question of the moment: When will golf season finally arrive?

Jason Sudenga, GreatLIFE director of golf, is used to hearing it and has some answers.

“That’s the million-dollar question, and the short answer is ‘soon.’ But Mother Nature ultimately will tell us when it will be.”

The biggest factor is the condition of each course, he said.

“Some of our courses had flooding – actually, they all had at least some somewhere on the course – so now it’s a matter of making sure everything dries out,” Sudenga said. “All the snow first has to be off the greens and tee boxes and fairways, and then it’s a matter of making sure everything dries up.”

Courses likely will open for walking first and then open for carts once more drying occurs.

Who’s first

Fox Run Golf Course in Yankton became the first GreatLIFE course to open, when it welcomed the first players of the season last week.

“They’ve had some flooding, but we were able to get the back nine and the driving range open and are hopeful we can open the entire course soon,” Sudenga said.

The course is a new addition this year, as GreatLIFE begins a four-year lease with the city of Yankton.

“So that’s great for our members because they can go down there and still get on a GreatLIFE course and enjoy using their membership,” Sudenga said.

Who’s next

Either Bakker Crossing or Willow Run likely will open next in Sioux Falls, Sudenga said. Willow Run’s driving range opened last week.

“Everything should start to firm up, and then hopefully we can get the carts out,” he said.

There have been only three years since he helped open Bakker Crossing in 2002 that golf has not been available in March, he added. So the odds are in golfers’ favor.

“There have been times we’ve opened and then received snow in April and had to shut down again, but usually we’re open that last part of March, and I would say if the weather stays like this we should be in open in March this year for sure,” Sudenga said.

Rocky Run in Dell Rapids might take a bit longer than the Sioux Falls courses because it’s still about half-covered in snow, he added.

What’s new

When golfers do arrive on the courses this season, they will find improvements.

“All the courses have new maintenance equipment, so greens mowers, fairway mowers, and hopefully the golfers will notice that once the grass starts growing to create even better conditions,” Sudenga said.

Willow Run is adding a restroom on hole No. 13, which will be a welcome addition to the back nine, he added, and there’s a new net on the driving range to prevent golf balls from ending up on the course.

New carts will arrive at Bakker Crossing in early May, and the course has finished its new short-game area along with planting new fescue grass.

“They’re all new additions we think members will really enjoy,” Sudenga said. “We know it’s seemed like a cold, snowy winter, and people are definitely itching to get out there. We’re looking forward to it as well.”

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