Mount Werner looms in the background as Ivelin Dimitrou, of Steamboat Springs, tees off at Haymaker Golf Course on Thursday afternoon. Haymaker and the rest of Steamboat's golf courses will close in the next month, but all say there is plenty of time to squeeze in a few good rounds.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Mount Werner looms in the background as Ivelin Dimitrou, of Steamboat Springs, tees off at Haymaker Golf Course on Thursday afternoon. Haymaker and the rest of Steamboat's golf courses will close in the next month, but all say there is plenty of time to squeeze in a few good rounds.

Last gasp of golf

Area courses say business is good as they prepare to close for winter

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Closing dates

Catamount Ranch, Oct. 19

Sheraton, Oct. 26 or earlier for front nine. Back nine already closed.

Haymaker, Nov. 2

Steamboat Golf Club, Nov. 9

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Tomas Skoda tees off Thursday at Haymaker Golf Course. Haymaker golf pro Hank Franks said the course plays differently in the day fall than it does during wetter summer months. The brown and muted vegetation along with more firm greens make for a more European Links style experience.

— Hank Franks stopped short of saying he had been hoping against snow.

"Snow is good for us, because it's moisture, and we need to make sure there's enough moisture on (the course) going into winter," he said matter-of-factly.

Franks, the golf pro at Haymaker Golf Course in Steamboat Springs, insisted he really has been enjoying the crisp but clean fall weather. He said it's made for some of the best golfing of the year.

"It's always based on weather in October, but we've had a great October so far," Franks said. "It's been fairly mild and we haven't lost any full days because of the weather."

Those looking for one last tour around the city's golf courses had better hurry. All the area courses are playing through their final month - and snow just might expedite closing plans.

The course at Catamount Ranch will close in a week, next Sunday. Rollingstone Ranch, the Sheraton course, will close Oct. 26 at the latest. Haymaker will follow suit Nov. 2 and the Steamboat Golf Club will end its season Nov. 9.

Still, it's a fine time to tee up.

"Our business is still good when the sun's shining. The course is still in excellent shape," Wayne Garrison, Steamboat Golf Club general manager, said. "It's still very playable, and the views are different. It's beautiful. You can see a little on the mountain now when you're playing here."

Change is good

Nearly every trip to the tee box during the past several weeks has brought new views, first as green gave way to gold and now as the aspens drop their leaves in preparation for winter.

An ever-evolving landscape isn't the only draw to a fall day on the golf course, Franks said. Rather, it's one of many things that he said make fall golfing a match for any other season.

At Haymaker, the course firms as the summer's moisture slowly is sucked away. Combined with the muting of the brilliant greens of June and July, it makes for an entirely new experience.

"The turf is firm and the ball rolls out a little better," Franks said. "It plays a little more like a Links style course. The ball is rolling more on the ground than it would when the grass is damper. It certainly looks more like a Links course, too."

Familiar faces

Franks said Haymaker filled each of its Wednesday tee times and has stayed busy despite the drop in temperatures. Still, Steamboat's not crowded and the absence of tourists in the clubhouse can make for a rewarding day for local golfers.

"After Labor Day, 85 to 90 percent of the people we see are locals," Garrison said. "The crowds aren't as big, the course isn't as crowded, and you don't have to make tee times nearly as far in the future."

That's not what drew Tomas Skoda and Ivelin Dimitrou, both of Steamboat, to Haymaker on Thursday afternoon. Wrapping up their first summer with season passes to the city course, the pair was dedicated to taking full advantage and golfed all through balloon rodeo crowds, Triple Crown crowds and anyone else wandering to the course in June and July.

They still had no trouble identifying the advantages of October, teeing off Thursday with no one to wait for in front of them and no one tapping a boot behind them.

"The course has changed. The greens are in the best shape they have been in," Skoda said.

"It's a lot nicer to play without all the tourists," Dimitrou added. "We are hoping to get as much in the rest of this season as we can."

All Steamboat's courses could close earlier than planned if weather dictates. The back nine holes at the Sheraton course already are down for the season, and the front could join them if business remains slow, assistant golf manager Ryan Lambert said.

- To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@steamboatpilot.com

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