Golfers in the Iowa City area have taken full advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures this spring, hitting the links at Finkbine Golf Course much earlier than normal.
April 24, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- If April showers bring May flowers, March sunshine brings golfers to Finkbine.
Golfers in the Iowa City area have taken full advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures this spring, hitting the links much earlier than normal. Finkbine Golf Course, the University of Iowa's own award winning 18-hole track, has seen a large increase in spring golfers.
Finkbine opened at exactly the same time in both 2011 and 2012; the third Monday in March. Last spring, 1,600 rounds of golf were played in the first month of business. That number increased by an eye-popping 900 rounds to 2,500 this spring.
Jeff Moore, director of golf at Finkbine, isn't surprised at the number of people filling the fairways on a regular basis this spring.
"The excitement is there in the spring," Moore said. "Everyone is ready to get out and play after the winter months. It's great to see the play we've had, the use of the range and everyone wanting to get out and play golf.
"Because it has been so nice, the day-to-day work has increased. People are playing golf or hitting the range after work and the weather we have had in the spring has really brought people to the golf course."
With the unpredictability of Midwest weather, Moore and his staff can be a little cautious when it comes to thousands of rounds being played in the early spring months. But with a great grounds staff, damage to the course isn't an issue.
"We are pretty protective of our course in the spring," Moore said. "We have a good history with (director of grounds) Ted Thorn being here 35 years and (course superintendent) Mike Hoffman being here roughly 30 years. They don't get too anxious about the weather. They plan for a certain day to open and that's what we go by."
Thorn, Hoffman and the rest of the staff have done an outstanding job at Finkbine this season. The fairways are the greenest of green, the rough is plush and the greens are rolling firm, true and fast.
"I've never seen course look this good, this early, in the Midwest," Moore said. "Mother Nature cooperated this year, and it really made things pretty green around here this spring. The end of March this year was like a typical end of April season."
Not only is the grounds crew working hard to keep the course in top shape, Moore and his staff are making a dedicated effort to increase awareness through social media. Finkbine's Facebook page and Twitter feed have seen steady rises in followers this spring. Finkbine is giving away prizes, like free cart rental or free rounds of golf, to its social media followers.
"We have some staff members that have taken social media on as a new challenge," Moore said. "Our numbers on Facebook and Twitter are growing, and we are trying to give away prizes to connect with golfers. We've got a great course, and we want to share it with golfers around the area."
One of the reasons Finkbine is so special is the fact that it's the home of the UI men's and women's golf teams. The university takes pride in its home golf course and Moore takes pride in being associated with the athletics department.
"We aren't just another Midwest golf course," Moore said. "We are the University of Iowa's golf course. When people come from around the area, they know Finkbine because of the University of Iowa. It's a destination course for people around Iowa City, but also for alumni. We are their first choice because of the reputation of the course."
Last year, Finkbine was ranked the 27th best university-owned course in the United States by Golfweek Magazine. Moore is hoping that the improvements being made to the course will increase the rating.
"We've added new tee boxes and some permanent out of bounds around the course that should increase our rating," Moore said. "The construction of the new men's and women's golf team practice facility should also help with our rating as well."
Finkbine is a public course, allowing players at any age or skill level to enjoy the scenic views and nationally ranked golf the course presents.
For more information on Finkbine or to book a tee-time, visit www.Finkbine.com. Visitors to the newly remodeled site can also visit the online pro shop to purchase their favorite Hawkeye golf apparel and merchandise.