One of the reasons golf is among the most popular sports is that it offers the opportunity to spend a day in natural surroundings and face challenges posed by that natural landscape.
Of course, the best time to experience this is when the weather is nice and sunny, with the occasional gentle breeze cooling you off.
Still, many golf enthusiasts don’t mind the weather that much and look to enjoy golfing year-round.
However, unless you live in areas with a mild climate throughout the year, this is not always possible.
As the winter approaches and the temperature drops, the conditions for playing golf significantly worsen.
When the first snow starts to fall, the courses often become unplayable.
So, many golfers wonder are golf courses open in the winter.
I’ll explore this matter and explain whether you can still enjoy a round of golf during the coldest months of the year.
Are Golf Courses Open in the Winter?
Whether a golf course will remain open during the winter depends on several factors.
Due to various reasons, you will be able to play at some courses year-round while others will close their doors between late November and March.
Some golf courses will remain open during the winter, but close up on days with particularly undesirable weather.
Still, even if the golf course remains open, in some areas with colder weather, winter golfing is a totally different experience than playing in nice weather.
Extra layers of clothing, lower temperatures, and stronger winds require a completely different approach to each shot.
Still, some people love golfing so much, that they don’t mind these challenges and even enjoy them.
Why Golf Courses May Stay Closed During the Winter?
Below are the major factors that influence the decision of the golf course management whether to stay open or close their doors for the winter.
The major factor that impacts the operation of the golf course in winter is its location.
Obviously, the courses are located in areas of the country with severe winters and several months of heavy snow are unplayable.
On the other hand, courses in states such as Florida, Hawaii, California, or Arizona, commonly stay open through the winter and even use that fact to draw visitors from other parts of the country and encourage them to visit these states during winter.
Still, even in these areas, there’s always a possibility of frost delay on particularly cold days.
The layout and orientation of the course itself also play a role in how playable it will be in the winter.
North-facing slopes, low-lying areas, and pockets with restricted wind movements are more prone to frost which will stay there longer and potentially cause delays lasting for multiple days.
While rain is often beneficial for the golf course and promotes healthy grass growth, in winter months it’s more of an obstacle, worsening playing conditions.
When the weather is cold, as it is during the winter, the water doesn’t evaporate that quickly which creates all sorts of problems.
Excessive rain in the winter months can flood the greens and make them unplayable.
While groundskeepers can often deal with it, flooded greens are often a sign that the situation at the other parts of the course is even worse.
The water will also gather in the lowest points of the course, rendering these areas impossible to play.
Additionally, standing water on the fairways, if excessive, can cause a lot of damage to the course itself and to the golfer’s equipment and clothing.
During winter months, even when there’s not much snowfall, frost can have a hugely negative effect on the playing surface across the course,
The grass will endure most of the damage, which is obvious by the brown marks appearing on the turf once the frost melts.
Plus, due to the lack of heat, grass grows up to 95% slower in the winter than it does in the summer.
This means that if the course is open and the golfers are allowed to walk on the already bruised and damaged grass, the turf will have a much harder time recovering and probably can’t be fixed until the spring comes and the weather gets warmer.
Because of this, even the courses that are normally operational during winter will close their doors on days with severe frost.
The most obvious obstacle to playing golf in the winter is, of course, snow. If you’ve ever tried to play golf in the snow, then you know how hard it is, almost impossible.
The snow will stop the ball in its tracks, effectively making the course unplayable. So, during the days with snowfall, the courses will most likely stay closed.
In some areas, with less snowfall during the winter months, this can mean that the course will stay out of function only for a couple of days until the snow melts.
However, even when it melts, the groundskeeping staff still have to be on the lookout for the above-described problems of rain and frost.
In northern parts of the country, where the winters are long, severely cold, and with constant heavy snow, the golf courses usually close their doors for a few months, up until the early spring.
As you can see, the possibility of playing golf in the winter months will depend on several factors, such as the location of the course, climate conditions, and the course design.
Some premium courses, which employ more staff, will be able to better deal with these issues, providing their high-paying customers with more playing time during the winter.
However, at some point, the snow and cold may be so severe that no amount of work can make the course playable.
If you have an opportunity to do so, golfing in the winter can be a lot of fun and is a great way to spend some time outdoors, in nature, during this gloomy time of the year.
Still, not all golf courses will be open at this time, so make sure to always check whether your local club is in function before hitting the links.