By MURRAY BISHOFF
The Windmill Ridge municipal golf course in Monett has been swamped with people this week.
According to Mike Knight, Monett's director of golf, the season seems to have started the weekend of March 6.
"Everybody just gets tired of sitting inside. They want to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather and our beautiful golf course," Knight said.
Knight tries to get the course ready, but he has to wait for warm weather as well. Some of the work, like refilling the sand traps, can get started earlier. The greens, on the other hand, are still hard. Putting might be a bit bumpier, or the ball may "wander a bit."
"We use a roller to smooth out the greens. When the ground is still soft from winter, you can't get the heavy machines out there," Knight said. "We don't mow much in the winter. It's hard to find ball marks in greens now. The holes mound up (making it harder to get the ball to drop)."
With spring having arrived, Knight and his grounds crew have gone to work in earnest readying the course. They will aerate the greens as soon as next week, softening them for more play. It's a busy time, even though right now the grounds crew is almost tripping over players now, especially high school players.
Teams from Monett, Purdy, and Pierce City descended on the course quickly as their seasons started. The Ladies League will start next week. Match play gets started in earnest in April, and then tournament action kicks off in May. Knight has 12 tournaments already booked.
As for the golfers at this time of year, "They're eager to get out and play. They're ready to go and get the golf clubs out of the garage," Knight said.
"We have some who play all winter, whenever the temperature is above 45 degrees," Knight added. "We've got guys out here now I haven't seen all year, out to test their golf swing."
Knight listens to the banter of golfers all year long. At the beginning of the year, he hears complaining but says it's not much different from later in the year.
"They say their swing is off. They can't putt. Golf is a touch game. You've got to have your swing down. It's not an easy game to accomplish. Players always gripe about their putts. That's a normal golfer. They get aggravated. It's part of the game. If we were all good putters, we'd be in the pros. It's like they say, 'Drives are for show. Putts are for dough.'"
These days Knight is seeing a number of out-of-town players, including golfers coming from Shell Knob, Cassville, Aurora, and Springfield. Although this is a busy time, Knight has no complaints.
"I love it. I'm glad to see people out playing. It's good for the budget," said Knight, who referees basketball and volleyball during the winter. "It's boring to sit around here all winter. I enjoy interacting with people,"
"Golf is a tempered sport. People would rather be out in shorts and short sleeved shirts. People feel so much better when they can play," Knight added.