Yep, it's time to dust off the old clubs (Pings if you're well-off, K-28s if you're not), sharpen up the spikes and pull your favorite polyester slacks out of the closet.
It's golf season in Utah.Of course, the real golf fanatics have been golfing for a few weeks now, slipping in a round here and there between the rainstorms and snowstorms that plague the state in the spring. To those people, it matters little that there may have been no flagsticks in the greens and an abundance of snow mold on the fairways. Others have faithfully been doing their winter golf exercises, laying on the floor making strange contortions in an effort to stretch their golf muscles (whatever they are), or at the very least practicing the art of ducking and covering their heads (for those times when they hear the dreaded yell of "Fore").
Since last season, there are three new courses in the state: Ferron Millsite in Emery County; the new 18-hole Brigham City layout; and the par-3, 10-hole Mulligans in Ogden. There are expanded courses at Moab and Pebblebrook, and at least four courses have changed their names since last year. Spring Meadows is now West Bountiful, Sweetwater is Bear Lake, Nordic Valley is Ogden Valley, and White Barn is the The Barn.
The tournament schedule is packed solid from now until October, with the UGA Mid-Amateur Championship kicking off the schedule this weekend at Hill Air Force Base. The Mid-Amateur, for golfers 25 and older, gives the older guys who have to work for a living a chance to play without the college and high school hot shots, who may get to play more often.
By the time April is over, there will have been amateur tournaments in Roosevelt, Richfield, Price, Kanab, Orem, Manti, Magna, Sandy, Provo, Brigham City, Moab and Cedar City, not to mention the annual scramble at Forest Dale and best ball at Nibley Park.
In May, the area professionals start their weekly opens, with tournaments at Spanish Oaks, Tri-City, East Bay and Wasatch Mountain State Park.
The amateurs have the Salt Lake City Amateur in early June before the qualifyings begin for the state amateur with five this year, up from four of a year ago (the central area has been split in two). The five-day State Amateur will be played July 5-9 at the Riverside Country Club in Provo.
The big event for local pros is always the University Hospital-Utah Open, which as usual will be at Willow Creek, Aug. 18-20. Earlier in the month, the biggest golf event in the state, the Senior PGA Showdown Classic, will be played Aug. 4-6 at Jeremy Ranch, assuming there are no more legal and financial problems with the course.
For the non-tournament-oriented golfer, there's just golf for the fun of it (or exasperation of it) at one of the state's 84 golf courses. That is, if you can get on your favorite course. The courses are bulging at the seams particularly along the Wasatch Front, which makes it difficult at times to find a tee time. The good news is, there are some 25-30 projects in the works, many of which will be completed in the next five years.
"We feel good about the development of golf in the state," said Mark Passey, the executive director of the Utah Golf Association. "I think golf is healthy in the state. The interest in the game is at an all-time high."