In a year of historically low snow totals, add Breckenridge Golf Club opening 10 days earlier than ever before to the list of indicators that spring has sprung in the High Country.
Breck is set to open nine of its 27 holes - the Elk Nine - at the discounted rate of $21 walking ($42 for 18) on Saturday.
"The Elk offers us the best conditions at the moment," said head golf professional Erroll Miller. "It's early May. The conditions are early season conditions. Normally, we open in later May when conditions are a little bit further along."
The staff anticipates opening the Beaver Nine on May 11 and the Bear Nine, which typically opens first, will follow a week or so later.
"With the lack of snow coverage this winter and all the wind that we had, we didn't have coverage in some spots," Miller said. "Those areas got a little colder, a little dryer, and they're taking more time to recover. So the Bear will be our last this year."
Miller said the fairways throughout the courses have wintered very well; the biggest difference between the three tracks is noticed on the greens.
"There are still some spots. The golfer can expect that not every putt is going to roll perfectly true," Miller said. "The fairways are still thin. They're just now starting to grow, as nighttime temperatures have still been pretty cold - down in the 20s. ... With the grass not being as thick, the golfer is definitely going to see some extra roll."
The yellowish-brownish color that is present on the course is typical for the time of year and is similarly prevalent on other area courses, but the staff notices improvements on a daily basis. The greens, Miller said, are in solid early condition. The staff punched the greens in the fall, so most of the holes have healed nicely already.
"As people come out on Saturday, the fairways will probably only have been mowed once and the greens (on the Elk) will probably have been mowed three or four times," Miller said. "It's exciting. We don't expect lots and lots of golfers (in these early weeks), but for people in the community, the locals, to get out and enjoy some early-season golf, it's a great opportunity."
Breckenridge offers local residents the ability to purchase discount punch cards for play during the summer. Breckenridge residents may purchase a five-play card for $265 or a 10-play card for $420. Residents of the Upper Blue River Basin, Farmers Korner to Hoosier Pass may purchase the five-play card for $265. Summit County and Park County residents can purchase a discount card valid for five rounds for $275.