Golf excitement growing

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— The greens and fairways at Haymaker Golf Course are buried beneath several feet of snow, but it's not too early for locals to start thinking about golf.

Season passes went on sale Monday, and construction on the course's new clubhouse is nearing completion in time for the course's 10th season.

Hank Franks was in charge when the city-owned course east of Steamboat Springs opened in August of 1997, and he said he thinks this year's opening will be just as exciting,

"When people walk through the front door, they are going to be blown away," Franks said. "This is something the city, the lodging community and everyone in the Steamboat community can be proud of."

Although the $3.96 million building will take center stage, Franks insists that the course's attention to golf will remain its top priority.

Scott Matthews, the former general manager of the Steamboat Golf Club, has joined Haymaker's staff as an apprentice assistant.

Franks will continue to lead the staff. Tim Fuhrer will act as first assistant, and Nina Krats will be the course's director of junior golf.

Franks said the new clubhouse's expanded retail space, restaurant and underground parking for carts makes Haymaker one of the premier courses in the state.

Although this year's weather has delayed some of the construction, Franks is confident that everything will be ready for a May opening.

Residents can purchase season passes for Haymaker now at the Steamboat Parks and Recreational Services offices at 249 Howelsen Parkway.

An adult season pass costs $925, and junior passes are $275. Residents also can purchase a spouse add-on pass (which can be purchased along with an adult full-season pass) for $775. The junior add-on is $150.

After the May 1 deadline, the cost will increase to $1,075 for an adult pass and $950 for a spouse add-on. The junior passes are on sale now, but their prices will not be affected by the May 1 deadline.

John Vanderbloemen, chairman of the golf management committee, said the price increases were necessary to meet the rising costs of insurance and fuel. He said the amount is nominal, especially considering that prices for locals have not increased since 2002.

Locals can save money by purchasing punch cards

This year, the course will continue to offer a wide range of instructional and playing opportunities for all levels and ages of golfers.

Haymaker's clinics are scheduled to begin May 15 with the first three-day clinic of the season. The course will offer eight three-day sessions this summer running from mid-May through late August.

Each clinic offers six hours of professional golf instruction designed to develop new skills and refine techniques. The clinics will be on Haymaker's practice range and in the afternoon to accommodate work schedules.

The staff at Haymaker also will offer custom club fitting and private and semi-private lessons this season. Video analysis is available for all programs.

The junior golf programs will kick off with an open house at 2 p.m. May 6. This year's programs will include six introductory clinics as well as a program for advanced juniors. There also will be a junior championship, a parent-child tournament, junior play days and a skills challenge.

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