Golf season still snowed underConditions have been perfect at the Cloquet Country Club this spring … for cross country skiing.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Conditions have been perfect at the Cloquet Country Club this spring … for cross country skiing.
“It’s above my kneecap,” said 5-foot-1 Rachel Morrison of the several feet of snow covering the Cloquet Country Club. “I’m sick and tired of seeing white. I just want to get out and get on the driving range.”
Morrison and her older brother, Brett, have had to forego their normal routine of golfing outside at their favorite course, instead practicing indoors with their Cloquet-Esko golf teammates throughout a prolonged winter.
Living less than a mile from the 18-hole private course, both Morrison siblings began their golf careers at age 10, learning from their father, Shane. While sophomore Rachel is in her third varsity season, Brett enters his fourth as a senior on the team. Each said Tuesday’s snow total was the most they’ve ever seen.
“It’s tough, but the snow will melt,” Brett said, confidently. “I’m looking forward to our first meet, whenever that happens.”
That could still be a while — if at all — according to CCC Assistant General Manager Matt Carlson, who recently measured 31 inches of snow on the course’s opening hole.
In the month of April alone, Carlson said, the course received more than 50 inches of snow, burying any chance of opening the season on time and infecting most area golfers with cabin fever.
“Typically, we’re opening this time of year,” Carlson said. “April was the snowiest month ever, in history. We definitely have over two feet — close to three feet — still out there.”
“It’s been winter, and then a second winter,” said first-year Cloquet-Esko boys golf Coach Jonathan Horbacz. “Hopefully we just skip spring and go right into summer. That’d be nice.”
Until now, Horbacz has had his team in the Esko gymnasium most mornings working on hitting drills, chipping and putting, participating in rules meetings led by Carlson and even doing yoga to stay busy indoors.
“If it gets nice, we might have the guys throw the bags on their backs and go outside for a walk,” Horbacz said of the weekend’s more spring like weather forecast. “Hopefully this weekend we can get close to getting that grass to grow.”
CCC General Manager and PGA golf professional Bill Manahan, involved with golf for 34 years, said the heavy, wet snow can melt and grass can grow quickly if the right weather hits. Though growth damage across the course is likely this spring, he said he is hoping the course can open by Mother’s Day.
“It’s easy to get down about the weather,” said Carlson, 27, who has worked at the course for 14 years. “But I’ve seen it all. Sometimes you open early and then you don’t get any good weather. This time of year the sun is up until seven or eight o’clock, so hopefully we can start making some dents in this.”
The Morrisons agreed, noting golf in the basement at home is getting old.
“It’s a bummer that we can’t get outside,” Rachel said of the lingering snow. “But we’ve had plenty of lessons downstairs.”
“I can take a full swing with my pitching wedge without hitting the ceiling, and I haven’t broken anything yet,” added Brett, noting his mother often warns him to be careful. “Yeah, I wanted to have a full senior season, but that’s how it is up here.”
Longtime Moose Lake-Willow River Coach Steve Mokros said the season could dwindle down to one week. With his team practicing in Riverside Arena all season thus far, Mokros said the second week in May is likely the opening date for the 9-hole, sand-based Moose Lake Golf Club.
“We melt two or three inches of snow and then get six more,” Mokros said. “That’s not good math for playing golf.”
Golf is also on hold at 9-hole Pine Hill in Carlton, according to first-year Wrenshall Coach James Johnson. He said his team has been practicing in the school commons area on carpet.
Barnum Coach Cullen Franek, in his second season, said the Bombers are practicing indoors every other day, as 29 Pines in nearby Mahtowa is still buried in snow on the flat course’s nine holes.
Franek and Mokros have actually scheduled their pair of Polar League schools to have a team putting challenge this week in Moose Lake High School’s library on new carpet.
“We always putt against each other,” Mokros said, “so our guys put together an 18-hole course and I called up Barnum.”