SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — This weekend, KELOLAND TV will air The Masters tournament from Augusta, Georgia, teeing-up the unofficial start to golfing season. But players locally have had to keep their clubs hibernating in the garage because it’s still too cold and wet for courses to open here. Many of them have been booking tee-times at the Great Shots year-round golf entertainment business in Sioux Falls. The long winter has been a windfall for the venue in more ways than one.
Golfing during the springtime in KELOLAND can sometimes require a winter coat and cap.
“It’s not as fun as golfing in the summer, but the sun is shining, so it feels good,” Shanna Haak of Alcester said.
Some customers at Great Shots have even been golfing in shorts. The heaters overhead help take some of the chill out of temperatures in the twenties.
“I was cold right away, as I got going though, it warmed up and they have these heaters which help, so it’s not as bad now that we’ve been swinging for a while. I’m not too cold now,” Michelle Serck of Alcester said.
Great Shots is pretty much the only game in town when it comes to golf. That’s because the local courses are still waiting for the weather to warm up and the snow to finally melt before they can open up for business. My first Mulligan of the year.
“You can’t really get out right now, so this is the next best thing,” Serck said.
“We’re seeing those golfers that are itching to get onto the course certainly come out and make sure they have their game ready for those tournaments and games within their golfing groups,” Great Shots General Manager Jonathan Buckley said.
Great Shots is seeing a surge in spring golfers, following a long, harsh winter.
“Since we’ve been open, this has probably been the most challenging winter, temperature-wise and snow amount. But we’ve seen a lot of good support from the community as well,” Buckley said.
Great Shots had to close for a dozen days due to wintry conditions.
“Any time you’re not open, it’s going to impact business a little bit. But again, the weather is out of our control,” Buckley said.
Great Shots is used to bouncing back from bad weather. Last spring’s derecho knocked down the nylon netting surrounding the fairway. The netting is designed to fall away when winds top 50 miles an hour to prevent the support towers from tumbling down. Crews replaced the shredded netting and the venue was back open after closing for just one day. The replacement netting faced its first big test when blizzards blew through over the winter.
“Always in the back of your mind, you’re thinking okay, will the net come down on this next storm? But again, they’re designed to release for safety purposes,” Buckley said.
The netting stood its ground during the fiercest winter storms. Buckley says only a couple of panels had to be replaced.
“I think we were fortunate not to necessarily have some heavy, wet snows at times we had big winds to allow it to freeze,” Buckley said.
Great Shots doesn’t expect to see a drop-off in business once local golf courses open for the season.
“A lot of people are coming out on the nights and weekends when the driving ranges at a golf course are going to be closed because they don’t have lights. Here, we have lights, we have music, we have great food, so we’re offering the great entertainment aspect,” Buckley said.
And Great Shots has more replacement netting on standby to keep any future storm damage delays to a minimum, because these golfers want to make up for time lost to the winter.
“I can’t wait just to get outside and do a little bit more golfing,” Serck said.
Great Shots is hosting a Masters golf tournament of its own this Saturday where the winner gets a green jacket, just like the pros.
You can learn more about other upcoming events at Great Shots, including an Easter Egg Hunt.