For February golfers, Chicago weather ‘on par’ with San Diego

From left: Trish Organ, Leslie Rachlin and Nancy Liljedahl get ready to tee off
From left: Trish Organ, Leslie Rachlin and Nancy Liljedahl get ready to tee off at Sydney Marovitz golf course on Wednesday Feb. 22. (Elan Kane/MEDILL)

By Elan Kane

When Chris Novak moved to Chicago from San Diego last June, the last thing he expected was to be playing golf here in February. But there he was Wednesday, getting ready to tee it up at Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it out at least until April, so I’m stoked,” Novak said. “I’m not working today so I [figured I] might as well head across the street [and play].”

With temperatures reaching up to 70 degrees in parts of Chicago in recent days, many golfers took advantage to sneak in a few rounds of bonus golf.

Nancy Liljedahl did not expect to be playing this early in the year.

“I looked at my weather app a couple days ago and said ‘it looks like it’s going to be nice Wednesday, anybody want to play?’” Liljedahl said.

The docile winter has been a boon for Rich McNelis, an employee at Sydney Marovitz, who has already played roughly 35 rounds of golf in 2017.

“It’s like living in San Diego,” McNelis said.

Golfers are not the only ones benefitting from the warm weather. The temperatures have helped many golf courses reap an unexpected windfall during a normally idle February.

Sportman’s Country Club in Northbrook opened in February for the first time in more than 20 years, according to assistant golf professional Steve Fisher. The club held more than 350 rounds of golf combined on Saturday and Sunday, raising enough funds to cover the lack of snow for the cross country ski program also held at the facility.

Pine Meadow Golf Club also had hundreds of golfers play last weekend, according to general manager Dennis Johnsen. Johnsen said the money raised gives course officials a sense of security should there be cold weather in March.

Since the grass is still thawing, there was some concern that courses would be soft and the turf would be damaged going into spring. Johnsen said the grounds crew at Pine Meadow took preventative measures by top dressing and firming the greens. He reported there were no major problems with the course following the weekend even though carts were allowed on the grass.

Sydney Marovitz is open year round weather permitting, and had nearly 900 golfers over the weekend. Crew members heavily fertilized the course at the end of the fall so that it would be ready when the weather warmed up, according to Paul Foley, an employee at the course.

“It’s not like a normal course, but it’s perfect for February golf,” Foley said.

While there were golfers that did not love the shape of courses, like Novak, they enjoyed just being able to play.

“[The grass at Sydney Marovitz] was fine,” Novak said. “The greens were a little long and they were super slow and bumpy but it was fun. [Being able] to just knock around for 15 bucks, I think it’s definitely worth it.”

That was the general sentiment shared by many, including Liljedahl.

“I’m sure I won’t play very well but I’m really happy to be out here with my friends catching up, swinging the club, maybe swearing a little bit, maybe laughing, we’ll be laughing at ourselves, but just getting out,” Liljedahl said.

Photo at top: From left: Trish Organ, Leslie Rachlin and Nancy Liljedahl get ready to tee off at Sydney Marovitz golf course on Wednesday Feb. 22. (Elan Kane/MEDILL)
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