Cold, wet spring may affect golf course profits

As winter quickly approaches, golfers are hoping to get in one or two more rounds at our area golf courses, but a challenging season in terms of weather is leaving some courses wondering if they’ll be profitable this year.

Last year, some courses were in for a record season for business, and with back-to-back seasons of different extremes, some are hoping next year will just be normal.

This year’s season at Walsh’s Golf Center was anything but normal.

“It’s kind of the tale of two seasons this year,” said David Swift, owner of Walsh Golf Center.

Too much rain in the spring delayed the course from opening. Then there was the long stretch where there was no rain at all.

“Dry is something that we can handle,” said Swift. “We can water (and) we can regulate how much the grass gets. When it just comes in buckets like it did this spring, there’s almost nothing you can do.”

Swift said these last few months however have been very good for business, but even so, he’s still projecting a 15 percent loss in profits this year.

“I think anybody that lives in this area or has golf courses in this area will have to admit that this year, their revenues are going to be off,” said Walsh. “They just have to be.”


“Once we actually got open, things are rolling along quite nicely,” said Keith Stoll, general manager of Forest Hills Golf Course in La Crosse.

Forest Hills also opened about four weeks behind schedule this year.

While it too was off to a slow start, Stoll said there’s still time to end the season on an upswing.

“We still have four or five weeks left in the season and this can really dictate whether it’s a real profitable season or not,” said Stoll.

So while this season is almost over, both are hoping Mother Nature will use the off time to consider a happy medium for next year.

“Have a normal season,” said Swift. “Have an average season versus too much rain and then too little rain.”

Both Stoll and Swift said they’ve managed their finances and expenses a little more carefully this year because of the late start to the golfing season.

Walsh’s golf center is set to close at the beginning of November.

Forest Hills Golf Course’s closing date will depend on the weather.