The length of the Utah golf season is largely predicated on the weather, which is as unpredictable as Greg Norman's golf game of late. Those nice days in February only serve to break your heart when the snow hits in April.

The local golf season has gotten off to somewhat of a shaky start due to the Mother Nature's inconsistent spring weather. The faithful golfers who have braved the unsettled weather have often had to play in sweatshirts and windbreakers, with umbrellas and snowshoes handy.Bonneville assistant pro Greg Cayais says business has been "a little down, because of the late snowstorms." However, that hasn't kept people off his course. "When it's open, we're busy," he said.

"Business has been good," says Mike Borich, the assistant pro at Rose Park. But then he adds, "The weather has hurt us some."

Usually it takes until almost June to be absolutely sure of ideal conditions that last into early October at most Utah courses.

Golf courses are continuing to proliferate in the state, although not fast enough for those folks who claim they can never find a tee time.

Last fall, the new Sunbrook course in St. George opened to rave reviews. The Wingpointe course near the airport, which opened nine holes last year, finally opened its second nine a month ago. Later this week, nine holes at Westridge in West Valley City will open with nine more to open within a month. Mountain Dell plans to have its new 18 open in time for the City Parks Open in late July. And several golf courses are on the drawing board.

One is planned for North Salt Lake, another for Riverton and a couple of intriguing possibilities in prime locations have recently surfaced. One is a site of the old Vitro tailings in South Salt Lake. The other is land at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery, southwest of the University of Utah.

As for the local tournament scene, four tourneys dominate - the State Amateur, the Showdown Classic, the University Hospital-Utah Open and the Ben Hogan Utah Classic.

This year, the State Am will be played at Jeremy Ranch, the site of the 1986 and '87 tourneys, July 10-14. The Showdown is also at Jeremy Ranch Aug 5-11, while the Utah Open has one of its latest dates ever, Aug 19-25 at Willow Creek. The Ben Hogan event, which brings in the PGA stars of tomorrow, will be played at Riverside Country Club in Provo Sept. 20-22.

Among the 200-plus amateur tournaments, the trend seems to be toward more scrambles and mixed (men and women) events. Several tournaments that used to be best ball tourneys have been changed to scrambles, either 2-person or 4-person. And this year's schedule shows at least 15 mixed or couples events.

Besides the State Amateur, the top men's amateur tourney is the Salt Lake City Amateur (June 1-2 at Bonneville). A brand new tournament that could attract interest is the Autumn Aloft Match Play Tournament at Park City Sept. 10-12. The Mid-Amateur Championship will be Aug. 16-18 at Hobble Creek.

Highlighting the ladies' amateur schedule is the Women's State Amateur, which will be Aug. 14-16 at Eagle Mountain in Brigham City. Another biggie is the UGA Women's Match Play tournament July 25-27 at The Homestead.

Junior golf, which gets bigger every year, has a full summer slate, including the UGA State Jr. Amateur in late June, the Junior Open in mid-July and the PGA Junior in August.