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DeKalb County golf courses, farmers taking stock after ground thaws

Published: Friday, April 4, 2014 2:27 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, April 7, 2014 3:28 p.m. CST
Caption
Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com Sycamore Golf Club grounds crew member Armond Mattingly drives the greens roller Wednesday afternoon while the Sycamore Park District prepares the course for opening Saturday.

Despite a brutally cold winter, Sycamore Golf Club is opening Saturday just a day later than it opened last spring.

The 18-hole course will be open for walkers only to give the bentgrass more time to awaken from its winter dormancy before heavier motorized carts roll across it.

"It's been a long winter, and the melt has been slow," golf superintendent Kirk Lundbeck said. "The good news is that we don't see a lot of damage to the course, and we've had no flooding problems so far."

Overall, the DeKalb County area experience the second coldest period from December through March on the books, with some records going back to the 1870s, Northern Illinois University meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste said. The frost level typically extends six inches to two feet into the ground each winter, but this year it varied between two and four feet deep, Sebenste said.

The ground thawed this week, leaving farmers and other area residents to discover that moisture from the snow melting and recent rain did not penetrate far into the soil, Sebenste said. The cold temperatures that froze the ground also complicated high school sports schedules, but at least one local vineyard fared well this winter and area farmers say they aren't concerned about spring planting.

The slow thaw helped local golf courses. Flooding can be an issue for the Sycamore Golf Club as well as Buena Vista and River Heights in DeKalb since the Kishwaukee River runs through all three courses, but the turf dried up at all three relatively quickly.

River Heights, the nine-hole course and driving range on Annie Glidden Road, opened Saturday and Buena Vista, the 18-hole course on Buena Vista Drive, opened Monday, said Craig Wilson, assistant superintendent of golf operations for the DeKalb Park District.

"The only issue we see is there could be an explosion of weeds all at the same time," Wilson said.

High school spring sports have seen scheduling difficulties because of weather.

DeKalb High School Athletic Director Bryon Houy said they had to reschedule about three weeks worth of games, with conference games taking priority. Not all games will be rescheduled.

Genoa-Kingston athletic director Phil Jerbi said athletes are glad to be outside for practices, but they've had to cancel 17 games so far this spring.

"Our maintenance staff does a great job, and fields are ready," Jerbi said. "We also had about 20 kids step up and take ownership getting the fields ready for play. I just hope the weather holds out so we can get some games played."

Among those not bothered by the cold and snow are local vintners, who say their grape vines have fared well over the winter because of the snow cover.

"We have only planted hardy vines," said Alexa Tuntland of Waterman Winery. "We have French-American hybrid grapes, and we're lucky we had snow cover to protect the vines."

Although he said he wasn't real excited about playing golf, Genoa area grain farmer John Emerson is anxious to start planting about 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans.

"If we have the opportunity, we like to have everything planted by May 10," Emerson said. "But we'll plant when we can."

Somonauk farmer, and president of the DeKalb County Farm Bureau, Mark Tuttle, said he's just waiting for the temperatures to warm.

"It has been an unusual winter, but that's time we work in the shop anyway," Tuttle said. "We're normally not in the fields until at least mid-April anyway. Call me if we haven't done anything by May and then we'll talk."

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