Ithaca area golf courses battle the changing seasons

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On the first day of frost in Ithaca this season, Ron

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Craig picked up his bag of clubs and headed to Trumansburg for a round of golf with three of his closest friends. After 50 years of golfing, the fall chill and brisk wind was not enough to keep them from the first tee box.

Ithaca’s fluctuating and usually cold weather regularly cuts the golfing short. But for Craig and those who play three to four times a week, the weather takes a backseat to the sport.

“The ball doesn’t go too far, your fingers get cold, your legs get tired,” Craig said. “It’s fun, you just love playing golf.”

Newman Golf Course has taken the fall variables into its own hands by holding an autumn golf tournament called the Pumpkin Open. Held Oct. 27, the tournament had 15 four-person teams registered, at a $25 per person fee.

Golf courses in the area are currently in a state of limbo as they decide whether or not to stay open, while many golfers put their clubs away for the season. There are five golf courses in the Ithaca area, and all suffer from the abrupt seasonal change.

Pumpkin Open Director, Joe Ciaschi, said half of the profits from the tournament are given to the city, which owns the course. The other half goes to the local food and beverage provider, Fall Creek House.

“The city was talking about closing the course because it wasn’t making any money,” Ciaschi said. “So I said we’ll have a tournament to try and help them both out.”

Along with making an end of the year profit, another reason they created the tournament was to give golfers a chance to compete before the golf course closes for the season.

Kyle Kressler, the Head Professional at Trumansburg Golf Course, said that he sees more than half of his profits eliminated by the autumn months.

“Our play is cut down by about 60 percent, most of our play in the fall is our members coming out to get some last rounds,” he said. “We get some outside play, but it gets darker a little sooner so there’s not much time to play. People try to get out when they can.”

Trumansburg Golf Club has set the date to close Nov. 3 because from a business standpoint, it makes more sense to focus on preparing for the 2014 season, Kressler said.

Mary Novickas, General Manager and Director of Golf at Hillendale Golf Course, said that her business also plans to shut down in the upcoming weeks.

“The reason being is, to stay open in order to keep going and keep staff on we need to have so many golfers per day and we’re just not seeing that now,” she said.

Novickas said that currently the course is getting 10 to 12 golfers per day, when in the peak summer months, Hillendale received upwards of 100 per day.

As for operating a weather-dependent business, Novickas was straightforward about the hardships they face.

“It’s horrible,” she stated, “Because we don’t make those days up.”

For passionate golfers like Ron Craig, the Pumpkin Open is a welcoming sign of golf courses fighting back against the seasons.

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