WJTV News Channel 12 - Golf courses try to recover financially from the harsh winter

Golf courses try to recover financially from the harsh winter

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Oxbow Creek Golf Course Oxbow Creek Golf Course
Oxbow Creek Golf Course Oxbow Creek Golf Course
Bull Creek Golf Course Bull Creek Golf Course
Superintendent Steve Brown shows teebox that needs sunlight Superintendent Steve Brown shows teebox that needs sunlight
Oxbow Creek green with minor damage Oxbow Creek green with minor damage
This year's rain and severe winter weather has been hard on Columbus's two city-owned golf courses, and months after the winter season, they are still trying to recover financially.

Bull Creek and Oxbow Creek are in great shape for summer, but a lot of money was sacrificed to keep it that way. During the winter, the 9-hole Oxbow Creek was closed for 53 days, costing $38,700. 36-hole Bull Creek suffered 39 days of closure, costing $150,000.

Director of Golf John Milam says, "The thing about golfers is they don't double up. When they lose a day, it's gone, so it's just $150,000 down the drain."

Paul Leonard frequently plays at Oxbow Creek, and says, "It wasn't good because we couldn't play. Golf is like dope, you get addicted to it, so that's the bad thing about it. You couldn't play."

Superintendent Steve Brown says that is why they have worked so hard on the courses to attract the golfers when it warmed up. He says despite the harsh weather, a vigorous maintenance schedule keeps the course in good condition.

"This year we had two days about two weeks apart where it got down to 10 degrees," says Brown, "and that's the coldest we've had in 30 years here."

The USGA evaluated the courses in May, and made recommendations like buying a few blankets for the greens when it gets cold, change pesticides for the resistant winter weeds and improve sunlight on two teeboxes at Bull Creek.

USGA Greens Inspector Pat O'Brien says, "Columbus is located in an area where, for the most part, we generally don't get that extreme amount of cold weather, and the courses down in that area typically don't have the blankets."

"You've got a product to sell and if it's not in good shape, people aren't going to come, so you've got to spend the money," says Milam. "It's hard when the revenue stream starts dropping to keep pouring money into the golf course, but if you don't keep it up, you get in a cycle where it's just going to cost twice as much to get it back in shape."

Brown says, "You just need money to do a lot of these, and that's what's really tight right now, especially after you come through a bad winter like we just had."

Bull Creek is also trying to earn enough money to build a new clubhouse. The USGA report and the financial report will be presented to city council on Tuesday.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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