Golf courses are back in action in Peoria Park District

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – The Peoria Park District recently reopened some of its outdoor golf facilities as the weather warms up in the area.

Golfers can now get into the swing at Madison Golf Course and the Golf Learning Center driving range and nine-hole pitch and putt course.

For some golfers, as soon as the courses reopen, it’s the unofficial start of spring.

“It really is the first indicator that winter may be finally on its way out, when golfers are ready to go we know everyone else is too,” said the district manager of Peoria Park, Emily Cahill.

Cahill said there is a method of reopening golf courses that changes every year.

“Based on how we closed classes last fall and winter, we’re reopening them in the reverse order,” Cahill said. “Our staff are very knowledgeable, and you really have to watch the grass, you don’t want it to be compromised by bringing (people) back too quickly, so we have to warm up the ground temperature.”

Wednesday morning, many golfers returned to the links. Jay Etheridge, a local golfer, said he grew up playing golf and continues to do so today.

“Me and my buddies are taking a break in Florida and stuff like that, but it’s not the same as being able to play every day,” Etheridge said.

Etheridge said Wednesday was exciting because he got to test some new gear.

“I have a new pilot that I will try; I tried it in Florida and like I said it didn’t work in the simulator so they put in a new tree and I’ll give it a try,” Etheridge said.

He said the indoor simulators he and other golfers use in the winter can’t replace the swing feeling outdoors.

“The simulator gives you your numbers, your launch angle, your club’s launch speed, and all that. You think, ‘I’m doing great here, I can’t wait to get to Florida.’ But you get down and out, (and) you can embrace what you did before you say goodbye,” Etheridge said.

Chris Diepenbrock said the game kept him active and allowed him to meet like-minded people.

“I like to go out on my own and meet a small group of two or three guys, meet them and learn about them. Just meeting new people is a lot of fun,” Diepenbrock said.

The Peoria Park District hopes to open the Kellogg and Newman golf courses in the coming weeks.

At this time, no golf carts will be available as park staff say the ground is still too soft due to melting snow.

Michael C. Ford