Dario Bongiorni walked the rough on the seventh hole this fall at Lansing’s Groesbeck Golf Course. His ball was covered by orange and brown leaves.
“It’s impossible to find a golf ball this time of year because there’s leaves everywhere, said Bongiorni, a Lansing resident who plays the course throughout the season until it closes. “It’s such a pain.”
With the season changing and temperatures dropping, course employees shut down operations for the season at Lansing’s last remaining publicly owned golf course. The city once operated four courses, but closed the other three more than a decade ago.
Greg Webber, the head golf professional at Groesbeck, said the course has seen business increase this season.
“We exceeded 2018 goals last month and we are still staying busy,” Webber said.
Webber said Groesbeck added three new leagues bringing the number of leagues playing at the course to 19. He said a Friday special, which offered 18 holes of play, a cart and a meal for $21, helped boost business. “This allowed us to average over 100 customers on Fridays,” he said. “This is way more than we have ever had in previous seasons. It’s made a significant difference in revenue and rounds played.”
Webber has some ideas in mind for the winter so the course and its customers can stay active.
“I am looking into maybe putting getting a simulator out here or having cross country trails for something to do in the winter,” he said.
Tom Stouffer, the operations manager, said he has his hands full during the off season.
“The off season is a busy time for me,” Stouffer said. “I’m planning next year during this time and I am fixing and maintaining all of the equipment that is used during the season.”
Stouffer also has a lot to decide when the weather changes and fewer people come out to play.
“The level at which we maintain the course depends on how much play we anticipate on getting,” he said. “Obviously, we mow less and allow things to grow higher in the fall season. This is simply due to the amount of play and trying to stay within the budget.”
Bongiorni said he likes to keep playing with his friends for as long as the weather allows
“The course in the fall is in completely different shape than it is in the summer,” he said. “The greens aren’t very good in the fall and the sand traps are like hitting out of clay. It is disappointing to see, but I understand the weather makes it difficult for it to be in tip-top shape.”
K.C. Reynolds said he enjoys playing area golf courses with Bongiorni as often as possible. Reynolds said Groesbeck is one of their go-to spots.
“It’s nice to play Groesbeck during the fall because there’s a lot of trees on the course, and seeing the leaves change colors is amazing,” Reynolds said. “I also enjoy playing Groesbeck because there aren’t that many people playing in the fall so you can get in a round pretty quick.”