Maybe they knew it was coming. Or, maybe, it was that there had already been three weeks of good golf weather prior to the course’s opening – golfers were more than ready for the season to start at Hillcrest Golf Course.
And whether they wanted to get their swings in before the predicted storm hit, or just wanted to get their swings in period, golfers were out in force for Hillcrest’s opening Friday.
I heard the same was true Saturday. But that’s it, at least for now, what with the steady snow that started Sunday and is expected to continue into Tuesday, then start up again later in the week and run through at least the weekend.
So what now at Hillcrest? It opened briefly for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing earlier this winter, and with considerably less snow than we’re seeing now.
But Hillcrest’s golf course crew had been working to get the course ready for several weeks in anticipation of the original opening date – March 2. The way things are looking now, that date would likely have been pushed back, so golfers can be grateful that the course was available for two days – and in late February.
And from what I could tell, the Hillcrest crew did a solid job of getting the course in good shape for this time of year. Even the bunkers looked in early summer shape, well-groomed and plenty playable.
No, opening the course up for cross-country skiers and snowshoers just isn’t worth it. The traffic from either probably wouldn’t do much to impact the work the Hillcrest crew did in getting the course ready for play. But after spending several weeks getting the course in shape, Hillcrest can ride out the storm for two weeks, too, before reopening – with high temperatures in the mid-40s through the rest of the week, this snow probably won’t last long.
If it does, and if the snow and storms keep coming, that’s different. But to open the course up for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing just days after it was open for golf doesn’t make sense. Like the golf grounds folks, the winter crew at Hillcrest also would have to ready a course (groom the trails, etc.). And again, there’s absolutely no guarantee that the weather will cooperate for a winter course at Hillcrest, either. Those unseasonably warm temperatures aren’t going away anytime soon.
Jim Pitcher understands that.
Pitcher, owner of Hesperus Ski Area, closed the ski slope there a week ago Monday after the snow had all but disappeared. And even with the most recent snowfall, he said the hill will remain closed for the season.
“Once you call it (the season), you can’t go back,” Pitcher said Monday. “We suffered through it (poor conditions in recent weeks). It would have been fun to have this in mid-November. But once you put the word out that you’re closing, people start doing other things.”
With 29 inches of snow at Durango Mountain Resort as of early Monday evening, the nearby Nordic Ski Center will reopen after also closing last week because of the dismal conditions. But for Nordic skiing, 29 inches of snow is a ton, definitely enough to warrant reopening.
“We have received a couple of feet of new snow at the Nordic Center so are delighted to be able to reopen our trails to the public,” Helen Low of the Nordic Ski Center said in an email to The Durango Herald on Monday. “Trails will be groomed tomorrow (Tuesday) and the team will train there tomorrow (Tuesday) night and we will be fully open to the public Wednesday morning.”
How long conditions will allow the Nordic Ski Center to remain open is anyone’s guess. But here’s hoping this snowfall buys the boys and girls of winter there at least a couple of weeks.
About the time they’ll be teeing it up again at Hillcrest.