Ray Hastings, 81, of Princeton, was a little rusty in getting his golf ball into the first hole on Monday this week at the Princeton Golf Course.
Chalk that up to starting out a new season after a year away from practicing the skill. But if it had been last year, his start for the season there would have been April and not March, according to Princeton Golf Club golf pro Bill Laimer.
The season started 31 days earlier this year than last year at the golf course, Laimer said on Monday.
A week ago Laimer said he wasn’t sure when he would open the course but later in the week as he examined the grounds, he decided to open the first nine holes, with no carts, last Saturday. Carts will be allowed on the course this Friday, March 23, when the full 18 holes will be opened for golfing for the season, he said.
Back in some shaded areas there was a little ice remaining, he added.
This is the earliest that Hastings says he has started golfing here. He took up golf at age 47 when a sister and brother-in-law got him interested. The latest that Hastings said he has golfed locally was in December one year.
While Hastings continued on to the second hole, Bill Torkelson and Bob Snyder were preparing to start out on a round. They chatted about the weather, Torkelson saying he would be on his way to Hawaii the next day and maybe wasn’t so enthusiastic about that now with the balmy weather here early. The two talked about Minnesota having nicer weather now than southern California and Arizona, and that the configuration of the jet stream has something to do with that.
The golf course is owned by Ron Garbowicz, who last August bought out then-business partner Shane Korman, according to Laimer.
Laimer, as he continued talking about the early opening of the course this year, said that not only is the opener a month earlier, but the course is three months ahead of schedule as far as being in shape. There wasn’t the winter kill like in the past year, he explained.
Laimer back after leaving
Laimer might not have been here for the opening of the course this spring, had he stuck with a new career he was exploring after the end of last golf season, when he quit his job at Princeton Golf Club. A golf pro for 27 years, Laimer decided to check out the field of restaurant management and said he was the general manager for almost four months, up into January of this year, for the new Jimmy John’s sandwich business in Monticello.
He learned, he said, that the “freaky fast” pace of working there was not for him. “I like to take my time and talk to customers,” said Laimer.
So Laimer sought his old job back and was rehired March 1 at Princeton Golf Club. As he talked to some customers Monday morning just outside the door to his pro shop, he pulled off his jacket and joked along with the people around him just as if he had never left the spot.
The work at Jimmy John’s “was fun,” Laimer admitted, but added, “It is nothing like pulling up to the parking lot at the golf course.”