Yampa Valley Golf Course battled turbulent weather in up-and-down season | CraigDailyPress.com

Yampa Valley Golf Course battled turbulent weather in up-and-down season

Joshua Gordon

Players at Yampa Valley Golf Course had to battle weather and flooding during the golf season, but annual tournaments were successful, course officials reported. Club pro Jason Back said he hopes to make the game more cost efficient for families next season.

Jason Back had to overcome several obstacles in his first year as Yampa Valley Golf Course's club professional.

A late end to winter and early spring showers kept the first part of the season in flux while flooding of the Yampa River caused trouble in early June.

The golf course is reporting a total profit down approximately 10 to 12 percent from last season, Back said, but the numbers don't tell the whole story.

"A lot of what we lost was because of the weather," he said. "We had a decent year and survived a lot of issues. Overall, it was a good year and we survived some unexpected things, but we are not financially devastated for next year so we can bounce back."

Back said a lot of golf tournaments across Colorado suffered from low participation numbers, but many of the Yampa Valley Golf Course's main stays, such as the Cottonwood Classic and the Silver Bullet, were up to par this season.

"There were tournaments in areas such as Grand Junction that suffered big time or were cancelled altogether," he said. "I think with tournaments like the Cottonwood, which has been going on for 44 years, a lot of people love the tournament and come from out of town to play in it.

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"We benefit from a beautiful course and a great community that supports it."

The Cottonwood Classic was in question because of the flooding of the Yampa River, Back said.

On June 6, the U.S. Geological Survey's Colorado Water Science Center in Lakewood measured the highest flows in Craig since 1984.

The flooding closed the front nine at the golf course for 18 days.

Back said superintendent Tim Boyle handled the situation perfectly and avoided having to shut the course down like former pro Chuck Cobb had to for 60 days in 1984.

"Unlike other courses I have worked for, this course is built right next to the river and we have some areas on the course that are lower than the river," he said. "We had to wait for the river to go down and then pump the water off and then just deal with water damage.

"Luckily, none of the greens or tees were affected, just the fairways and roughs."

Back said the course lost most of its Steamboat Springs players early in the season, but overall the out-of-town players were a big boost.

"We get most of our Steamboat play in April and May because their course isn't open yet," he said. "Because the weather didn't allow us to be open for many days then, we lost a lot of that play. But, our tournaments always bring in great out-of-town play."

The golf course was officially open from April 1 to Nov. 15 this year.

Back said the official number of rounds played and total income for the season will not be available until January.

In his first season, Back said he didn't change much at the course so he could get a year under his belt.

But next year, he has some changes in store to boost rounds.

In the past, players had to be a member to buy an annual pass. The membership fee plus the annual pass came out to $1,400.

But next year, Back said the course will offer an annual pass to all Craig residents for $600 without a membership to make the game more cost efficient for families.

"There are a lot of young families who just can't afford both fees," he said. "We want to be able to get more young golfers out on the course who can then transition into memberships if they wish."

With additional changes still to come, Back said he hopes next season can be one of the best yet.

"We are already looking forward to next year," he said. "We had some things to overcome this year, but we are hoping the weather cooperates more next year and we can have another great year."

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