Golfers get a very early start on 2019 season at Coyote Run

Once upon a time, golfers had to endure long golfless winters or travel to warmer climes to play. 

Not this year.

  Dave Dennison, left, and 
  Brian Humbert, right, look 
  on as Phil Knight sinks a 
  putt Saturday on the 16th
  green at Coyote Run Golf 
(Photos by Eric 
  Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Homewood-Flossmoor Park District's Coyote Run Golf Course was open Saturday, Jan. 5, and golfers came out to enjoy rounds in sunshine and temperatures in the low 50s.

Carts were not allowed on the course because some places were still too wet, but conditions were generally good, according to Assistant Superintendent Phil Knight, who was playing a round himself.

Course General Manager Tom Denklau wasn't surprised to have golfers show up.

"If you've got a 40-plus degree day and sunshine, people will play," he said. He was pleasantly surprised by the number of players, though. He said 104 golfers had teed off by mid-afternoon. 

"I was surprised to have this many walkers," he said.

Denklau couldn't predict if this weekend is a brief opportunity or the beginning of an extended winter season. That will depend on the weather. If conditions are good, the course could open again, he said.

Sunday's forecast is for weather that's not quite as attractive as Saturday's — temperatures will be in the low 40s and it is expected to be overcast. Next week will start out rainy, although the temperature on Monday is again expected to be in the 50s. The rest of the week is expected to be clear, but the temperatures will be lower with highs ranging from the high 20s to the mid 40s.

Knight said greens freeze and become too hard to play when the temperature drops too low.

"Then you're done," he said. 

Knight's foursome on Saturday included Brian Humbert, Mark Simnick and Dave Dennison. They said the beautiful weather brought them out to play. Dennison and Simnick were coming off short breaks from the game. Dennison played Coyote Run in December. Simnick said he played in California last week.

Denklau reported to the park board at its December meeting that November was terrible for golfers. Plenty of rain, even snow, and below normal temperatures shut out many would-be players.  The course had just 398 rounds recorded in November, down 55 percent from November 2017 when 882 rounds were played. In November 2016, 1,960 rounds were on the books.

Very few golfers played in December 2018. By contrast, in 2017 the course was open until Dec. 23 and 636 rounds were recorded, Denklau said.

Marilyn Thomas contributed to this story.

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