Winter golf, Pete Oakley, and other stuff
January 18, 2008
Thus far the Cape Region winter weather has been very, very kind to its golfers. Several days that have reached up to the 50-degree level have brought many players out to the local courses. Even on days that don’t go above the low 40s, there are quite a few hardy souls willing to dress for the occasion and keep swinging.
There have been only a relatively few frost delays, required to keep the greens from being damaged by walkers on the frozen blades of tiny turf.
A recent two-player team scramble event at Shawnee Country Club featured as many participants as some of the club’s regular summer and fall tournaments. The nine o’clock shotgun start was only held up a short while to make sure the greens were thawed.
I played with Don McLamb, an ever-smiling Milton area retiree who spends much of the year running the Club Tossers competition at Shawnee. We had a good time together, but as far as competing for the prizes, that wasn’t really in the picture for us.
Ed Mihm, the Lewes Dairy Queen magnate, joined by Jeff Kohel, one of the club’s best golfers, ham and egged their way around the course for a net 58 for top honors. The pro shop gift certificates went to fifth place, a match of cards among the teams who shot net 63s.
Those performances help keep our team’s net one-under par 69 in the proper perspective, don’t you think?
Golfers should enjoy what few playing opportunities may remain until springtime. The weather forecast for the next ten days or so is not nearly as promising. On the other hand, there’s a reason the Delaware Special Olympics folks schedule their Polar Bear Plunge in Rehoboth Beach for the first Sunday in February—and it’s not because anybody plans to run into the ocean and then play a quick nine holes after drying off.
Pete Oakley’s 2008 Season Starts
Pete Oakley, Director of Golf at The Rookery, is continuing to take advantage of his 2004 Senior British Open victory to go somewhere pleasant and warm in January.
He is playing in the Champions Tour’s season-opening MasterCard Championship, at the Hualalai Golf Club in Ka’upulehu-Kona, Hawaii.
The limited field event brings together Champions Tour winners from last year’s season, as well as senior major winners from the last five years. Hale Irwin won the MasterCard tournament in 2007, while Oakley tied for 38th place, ahead of Bobby and Lanny Wadkins. The $9,750 he earned certainly covered the cost of the trip.
Let’s hope he has an even better start to this year’s competitive season.
Another warning about irrational exuberance
Sometime in the late 1980s, and continuing throughout the next decade, real estate developers came to the conclusion that a new golf course would be just the thing to entice folks to buy into their resort-oriented projects.
It turns out that like most other parts of life, it is entirely possible to have too much of a good thing, and inevitably there will be a correction. As with the nation’s housing market, the golf course market place is also seeing a significant softening from the go-go years of not so long ago.
According to the National Golf Foundation, over 121 courses closed during 2007. In the same period 113 new courses opened up, for a net loss in golf holes. During 2006, course closures outnumbered new openings by 26.5 18-hole equivalents.
The NGF noted that a disproportionate number of closings involved 9-hole layouts or executive or par-3 courses. While these courses have been about 20% of the U.S. total, they made up 43% of the 2007 closings.
That happened in the Cape Region a few years ago, when the Golf Park at Rehoboth closed, and its owners converted the property to the Kinsale Glen housing development. An executive-length course, it never seemed to attract enough business, leading its owners to search for some other means to maximize their investment.
That’s something Cape Region golfers should keep in mind about the other golf courses in the area. There are no guarantees that the courses they love to play will always be here.