Golf course opens early

Spring at the Yampa Valley Golf Course is a scintillating for the senses.

The smell of carpet cleaner floats through the pro shop. The sound of a mower echoes near the bank of the Yampa River. The warmth of the early spring sun melts the last clumps of snow hidden in shadows. Soon the tastes of the restaurant cuisine will be available.

"As soon as the snow starts to melt I get asked about three or four times a week when we're going to open," course professional Tom Dockstader said. "This is one of the two earliest dates we've opened on since my eight years here."

The golf course opened in 1967. It's an attraction important enough to Craig that the city council dedicated one of four signs coming into the city with a picture of a golfer.

The course is officially opening today.

Green fees for today and Friday are $10 for nine holes and $20 for all day. Saturday the fees will return to what they were last summer; $13 for nine holes and $21 for 18 holes for Craig residents.

"The course survived the Winter well," Dockstader said. "There is very little winter kill on the greens and the elk didn't do too much damage either."

Chuck Cobb, the other pro at the course was out mowing and Dockstader was busy getting the pro shop in order Wednesday. There were a handful of cars in the parking lot that brought golfers to the course for a free round the day before fees start.

"Inside we're working on getting the computer up so we can take membership fees," Dockstader said. "Until the grass comes out of its dormancy Chuck will do a lot of the mowing."

Even with an early melt the course could still be open to flooding.

"If it gets hot quick in the mountains we could get some water on the course," Dockstader said. "I've only really seen it bad once. Most of the time we'll have a little bit of water from ground swell but the banks are high enough to keep the course dry."

Flooding can be a problem at the beginning of the season just as a drought can be toward the end. The talk of a low snow pack in The Rocky Mountains has caused drought concern. The water rights obtained by the golf course help keep the pros at ease about water shortage.

"We have some pretty good senior water rights," Dockstader said. "In 2001 we had to stop watering but it was in September and we got a big rain two days later."

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com

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