While winter returned to Summit County Thursday, golf course maintenance crews were busy putting the finishing touches on the front nine holes at the Raven Golf Club in Silverthorne. With the driving range already open, the club plans to open for the season Friday, May 9, assuming there’s no significant snowfall overnight Thursday.
“It’s kind of play it by ear,” Raven course director Mark Nickel said Thursday afternoon. “I’d expect it to melt pretty fast. I hope the weather holds for us. Not because of the course, but encouraging people to play.”
If the club can open the front nine on Friday, it would once again be the first course to open in Summit. The back nine are expected to follow suit next Friday, May 16.
“We’re the first ones to open and the last ones to close,” Nickel said, crediting the course’s sun exposure and hillside drainage.
The River Course at Keystone is expected to be next on the list to open, joining a number of courses at lower elevations in Vail and Eagle Valley. Keystone course pro Philip Tobias said they anticipate opening the full 18-hole River Course on Friday, May 16.
“It truly depends on what this next system does,” he said, explaining that course officials will decide Monday if they will open all 18 holes or start with the front nine.
Breckenridge Golf Club officials anticipate opening the driving range Friday, May 16, and the full 27-hole Jack Nicklaus course on Friday, May 23.
“The snow has melted quicker than anyone would have imagined,” Breckenridge course pro Erroll Miller said. “It’s allowed an opportunity for the grounds crews to get out and start prepping the course.”
Despite the large snowfall in March, Miller said, the Breck course is on schedule to open on time. He credited the dust storm layer from earlier this season as a possible reason for the fast snowmelt.
The Keystone Ranch golf course has targeted a May 30 opening, which Tobias said should also proceed as scheduled. Copper Creek Golf Club listed June 13 as its opening day.
All three course pros said this winter’s consistent snowfall kept their courses in good condition through the winter and should have the course greens in great shape early in the season.
“Snow cover really helps the golf course,” Nickel said. “Having earlier snow is an ideal situation. It insulates the ground so it doesn’t freeze quite as deep.”
The result, he said, is the courses get greener faster.
Tobias and Miller agreed.
“Our golf courses came out of the winter looking great,” Tobias said, “the best they’ve looked since 2011,” which was also a big snow year.
Miller echoed the sentiment. “Our greens certainly look really, really good. They look better than they have the last few years.”
Even with this year’s substantial snowfall, all Summit County courses are on track to open on schedule.