Minnesotans eager to take advantage of Saturday’s unusually warm weather suddenly have some sporting options.
Several golf courses across the Twin Cities and beyond have decided to open, and college baseball teams are shaking up their schedules for the chance to play outside.
Tom Schmidt had not bothered to look at the weekend forecast. It is February in the Upper Midwest, after all, the offseason for most golf course owners in the area.
Then Schmidt, owner of ShadowBrooke Golf Course in Lester Prairie, Minn., heard from a caller with a crazy idea: Open the course on Saturday. The forecast is for a 57-degree high in the small town about 45 miles southeast of Minneapolis. The same temperature is expected for the Twin Cities metro area.
Schmidt agreed and in four hours the scheduled shotgun start sold out. About 120 eager golfers will tee off at noon in Lester Prairie to kick off the Minnesota golf season. The driving range also will open, and Schmidt is taking tee times for Sunday.
“Our motto is if you want to golf, we’ll show up,” Schmidt said. “This will be the earliest we’ve ever opened.
“[Golfers are] definitely excited about the early start. I had one golfer who called and said she’s never golfed on her birthday … so I made a rare exception [to fit her in].”
ShadowBrooke isn’t the only Minnesota golf course that will capitalize on unusually warm weather. Gross National in Minneapolis sent out an e-mail blast announcing its driving range would open Saturday.
According to TwinsCitiesGolf.com, several other courses will open to the public. Creeksbend Golf Course in New Prague will open Saturday with the use of carts. Summit Golf Club’s executive course and driving range in Cannon Falls plans to follow suit.
The driving ranges will be open at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids, Majestic Oaks Golf Club Signature in Ham Lake and Oak Marsh Golf Club in Oakdale.
“It’s the end of February and it’s nice, and people have an itch to get out, and we want to give them an opportunity to get out and hit,” said Dave Bratland, Gross National general manager. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw people out there with short sleeves and shorts. It will probably feel like 80 after the winter.”
Usually, college baseball games in Minnesota are postponed by bad weather and then moved to a later date. But taking advantage of the expected warmth, Northwestern and Bethel moved their May 9 game to 1:30 p.m. Saturday on the Northwestern campus in St. Paul.
The schools tried to bill it as the earliest outdoor baseball game ever played in Minnesota. It won’t be.
St. Cloud State is playing Dordt College of Iowa in a doubleheader scheduled for 11 a.m. at Veterans Field in Minnetonka.
On the St. Cloud State website, coach Pat Dolan said: “You have to take advantage of it any time you can play baseball outside in Minnesota during the month of February. This will be a great opportunity to get a couple of games in before we head to Arizona for games on our spring break.”