It’s not often that crew members are able to reap the rewards of their hard work on the course. It’s even less often that they get the first start on opening day. That’s what happened for the team at the Club at Cordillera in Edwards, Colorado, when an unexpected snow day in late May shut down the valley course.
“For my course, normally in May, we don’t have snow, we have rain,” says Carey Hofner, Superintendent of the Valley Course at the Cordillera Club. “So, I was very shocked to wake up to snow and the fact that it’s stuck.”
The Cordillera Club ended up getting about 6 inches of snow on May 21. After calling team members back and catching up on work around the office, a few employees gathered for lunch when they got the idea of being the first of the season to tee off at the stop.
“We just jokingly said ‘Hey, let’s go make the first start at the Mountain Course,'” Hofner said. “So there were about six of us catching pilots and catching balls and getting out and lining up on the tee and leaving.”
The snow day was welcomed by Hofner, especially since the valley course was the only one of the Club at Cordillera’s three courses open to play.
“The next day, Saturday, we still had snow, so I just did some tricky stuff around the course and just enjoyed it,” she said. “I appreciated being a bit lax and took a break, as I’ve been the only course technically open for a month now.”
Also shocked by the arrival of the snow was Sean McCue, director of agronomy at Castle Pines Country Club in Castle Rock, Colorado, a few hours east of the Club at Cordillera. He tweeted on May 21, “Temperature balance 50 degrees from yesterday.” It comes after her May 17 stage post, saying “Ladies’ Open Day today, couldn’t ask for a better day.”
In just 72 hours, Castle Pines Country Club went from more than ideal playing conditions to being blanketed in about a foot of snow.
“It was quite shocking to know that we were going to have thisascend of snow,” McCue said. “It’s very typical for us to have snow in May anyway, but for us to have that amount so late in the month it was very unusual for us.”
As far as course conditions go, however, the snow storm could have been much worse.
“Fortunately for us, we hadn’t planted our annual flowers yet, so we didn’t have to worry about protecting them or sustaining damage from freezing temperatures,” says McCue. “We are mostly ponderosa pines throughout our property, we haven’t really suffered any damage from the heavy snowfall and the branches. We are very lucky in this regard. We didn’t really have much damage.
Hofner is lucky in other ways. The cold, wet spring helps mitigate the risk of wildfires that frequently threaten the entire state.
“Anywhere here, we consider any kind of precipitation to just help reduce any fire danger,” she says. “We’re so excited about any type of humidity because we know what can happen.”
Despite the surprise snowfall and the possibility of more to come, it’s nothing these courses haven’t seen before and nothing they don’t spend their time worrying about.
“Our team took it in stride,” McCue says. “The weather here in Colorado is very unpredictable and from day to day you never know what you’re going to get and you just keep pushing forward as best you can.”
Cassidy Gladieux is a senior student at Kent State University participating in the Golf Course Industry Summer Internship Program.