Donovan Hornstein, of Craig, finishes his round on the 18th green at Yampa Valley Golf Course Friday. The course in Craig had a strong opening week, with golfers from all over the Yampa Valley coming out to play.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Donovan Hornstein, of Craig, finishes his round on the 18th green at Yampa Valley Golf Course Friday. The course in Craig had a strong opening week, with golfers from all over the Yampa Valley coming out to play.

Yampa Valley Golf Course attracts early season players from across the region

— The Yampa Valley Golf Course has enjoyed a strong opening week thanks to some good weather and great early spring course conditions.

Many players have made it out to YVGC to satisfy their itch to play after a long winter. But not all those players are from Craig. The course has many rounds played by out-of-town golfers whose hometown courses haven’t opened.

The largest contingent comes from Steamboat Springs, where the snow sticks around awhile longer and courses aren’t expected to open until closer to the beginning of May. A short trip west on U.S. Highway 40 gives golfers the chance to hit the links earlier in the year.

Head golf pro David Hardison said players have been coming from Steamboat. He estimated that about 75 percent of rounds played in the past week were by Steamboat golfers.

On Thursday alone, the golf course had 120 rounds played, and 80 or so were from out-of-towners.

“This time of year, the Steamboat folks are coming down,” said Hardison, in his first season at YVGC. “That’s what I had heard and it’s proven true. They’re chomping at the bit; they’ve got spring fever and want to come play. I think they’re all happy to be walking on grass rather than snow.”

For many Steamboat players, the draw to YVGC in early April is simple.

“It’s open,” Steamboat resident Gene Davis said Friday. “We look forward every spring to Craig opening, and in the fall when Steamboat (courses) close earlier.”

Davis said the one-hour or so drive each way is not a deterrent to getting in the first rounds of the season, especially when skiing conditions at home are deteriorating.

But golfers from out of town are far from the only ones playing. Many members and Craig residents have played the course as well, and in some cases multiple rounds.

Rick Rayl, a YVGC member for nearly 20 years, was playing his second round of the week Friday. He said the course looks as good as it ever has for opening week.

“The course is in great shape,” Rayle said. “It’s the best I’ve ever seen it for this time of year. Being out here beats the office.”

With a strong start under its belt, the spring is setting up nicely at the course. Hardison said Friday that he hoped to open the driving range over the weekend, and the men’s club will start playing next Thursday.

“Our members are excited,” he said. “We’re doing our best to be a part of that spring fun and making this a pleasant experience for everybody.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or nwaggenspack.com

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