Golf sea­son had its chal­lenges this year

Rainy spring, fall drive down num­bers at area golf cour­ses

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Front Page - By David Glasier dglasier@news-her­ald.com @nh­glasier on Twit­ter

It has been a chal­leng­ing year for golf cour­ses across North­east Ohio.

The 2018 golf sea­son here be­gan fit­fully with cold, wet con­di­tions in April and May.

Mo­men­tum was es­tab­lished through the prime times of June, July, Au­gust and early Septem­ber.

Then, just as golf course own­ers and op­er­a­tors thought a good run of fall weather might al­low them to make up some of the ground lost in the spring, un­wel­come rain through­out Oc­to­ber again put a damper on their bot­tom lines.

“I don’t want to sound too neg­a­tive, but let’s just put this year be­hind us and start the new one right now,” Wil­loughby Lost Na­tion Mu­nic­i­pal Golf Course man­ager and su­per­in­ten­dent Mitch Allen said, shak­ing his head.

Allen said Lost Na­tion gen­er­ally comes in at 37,000 rounds per year. This year, it will be more like 33,000 rounds.

It wasn’t just the rain that put a dent in busi­ness at the city-owned, 18-hole course that has been a fix­ture in Wil­loughby’s north end for 90 years.

Allen said a sum­mer heat wave that pro­duced 20 days with tem­per­a­tures in the high 80s and low 90s also kept away some cus­tomers.

“Ex­ces­sive heat is just as bad as rain. It hurt us the most with our core group of se­nior golfers,” Allen said.

Tom Porter is the PGA pro­fes­sional and man­ager of For­est Hills Golf Course, an 18-hole lay­out in Elyria owned and op­er­ated by Lo­rain County Metro Parks.

Porter said the num­ber of rounds played at For­est Hills this year will be down slightly from its over­all an­nual aver­age of 19,500 in years that fea­tured more golf-friendly weather. How­ever, he is greatly en­cour­aged that more golfers from out­side Lo­rain County are pa­tron­iz­ing the course.

Cleve­land Metroparks has eight cour­ses in its port­fo­lio, mak­ing the parks board based in Cleve­land the largest owner and op­er­a­tor of golf cour­ses in the area.

Its golf course hold­ings in­clude Manakiki in Wil­loughby Hills, Big Met in Fairview Park, Sleepy Hol­low in Brecksville and Shawnee Hills in Bed­ford.

Sean McHugh, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of golf op­er­a­tions for Cleve­land Metroparks, said the to­tal of rounds played at those cour­ses this year will be down slightly from the typ­i­cal an­nual to­tal of 345,000 rounds.

“The good news is, de­spite the is­sues with weather this year, we’re still on track to make a profit,” McHugh said.

Lake Metroparks owns and op­er­ates Pine Ridge Golf Course in Wick­liffe and Erie Shores Golf Course in Madi­son Town­ship.

Vince Ur­ban­ski, deputy di­rec­tor of Lake Metroparks, said to­tal rounds at both cour­ses will be down this year from the 2017 to­tals.

At Pine Ridge, it will be 29,000 in­stead of the typ­i­cal 31,000. Erie Shores is track­ing for 21,000 in­stead of 23,000.

Black Brook Golf Course and Prac­tice Range in Men­tor typ­i­cally does 34,000 to 35,000 rounds per year. Long­time pro and man­ager Tim Aus­perk said the tally in 2018 will be closer to 32,000 at the city-owned course.

“With the weather we’ve been hav­ing, it’s a tough way to end what’s been a tough sea­son,” Aus­perk said.

CLE Golf Prop­er­ties of Ch­ester Town­ship owns and op­er­ates one pri­vate course, Leg­end Lake in Chardon, and three pub­lic cour­ses — Fowler’s Mill in Ch­ester Town­ship, St. De­nis in Chardon and Pow­der­horn in Madi­son Town­ship.

Busi­ness at the four cour­ses will be down about 10 per­cent from last year when the books are closed on the 2018 sea­son, said Mike Muc­cia­rone, gen­eral man­ager of CLE Golf Prop­er­ties.

“If we had those (bad weather) days back, we’d be right where we want to be,” Muc­cia­rone said.

“But you can’t get them back, so it’s just an OK year.”

DAVID S. GLASIER — THE NEWS-HER­ALD

The leaves be­gin to show fall colors be­hind the green on the 9th hole at Black Brook Golf Course in Men­tor on Nov. 2.

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