Mother nature says: It#039;s tee time

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 10, 2007

With temperatures topping out in the mid-70s this month, winter looks to be fading and summer is just around the corner.

And that can mean only one thing: golf season is here.

Although the true golf season doesn't really begin until May, near perfect weather so far this month has been great news for golf courses across the state, especially Robert Trent Jones Cambrian Ridge here in Greenville.

Cambrian Ridge Director of Golf Bryan Reynolds said the trail course in Greenville has been extremely busy over the last few months, because of the unusually mild winter, and he expects the next few months to be booming as well.

&#8220Business was very good to us (during the winter),” Reynolds said. &#8220We had a good December, January and February and January was unusually warm.”

While the temperatures have been pleasant during the week, Reynolds said having nice weekends is the key to keeping the course busy.

&#8220Mother nature plays such a role in what we do,” Reynolds said. &#8220When the weather is good and it rains on the weekend, it just kills us.”

This weekend, Reynolds is really hoping for beautiful weather as the Robert Trent Jones Junior Tour rolls into town Saturday for a two-day event.

More than 100 kids, ages 11-18, with converge on Greenville's Cambrian Ridge course for the 11 a.m. shotgun start and play 18 holes Saturday and another 18 Sunday starting with an 8 a.m. shotgun.

The tour, which stops at every Robert Trent Jones course, will include boys and girls from all over the southeast. This weekend's event will even feature 16 girls.

All participants will walk during the event and must follow all United States Golf Association rules.

&#8220It's run like a real event and they have to follow the rules just like everyone else,” Reynolds said. &#8220It's as legitimate as you get.”

&#8220It's going to be a big weekend,” he added.

Beyond having some of the best amateur golfers in town, Reynolds said having the golfers' families and friends here is also good for the community.

&#8220It brings a lot to Greenville and any time you can get people from outside of Greenville, that's a plus,” Reynolds said.

The surge of more than 100 players, their families and friends helps the local economy in many ways, especially in dining and lodging.

As one of the few Robert Trent Jones courses without a joining hotel and conference center, Reynolds is hopeful that Cambrian Ridge will soon have those amenities to help entice future golfers and events.

&#8220Right now there are no plans (for a hotel), right now,” Reynolds said. &#8220But I don't think we can cancel it out.”

Reynolds said he sees real estate development in the future of the Cambrian Ridge area, and he hopes that will include a hotel.

&#8220It would be a big draw for us,” Reynolds said. &#8220It would add a whole new demographic section.”

&#8220It would be huge,” he added.

RJT courses with hotels, like Ross Bridge, Capitol Hill and Grand National, have attracted marquee events and tournaments and Reynolds knows that having such amenities is key to bringing in big names and events.

To host a tournament like Capitol Hill's Nationwide or LPGA Tour event, sponsors must pay anywhere from $50,000-100,000 or more. Sponsorship of an event on the Hooter's Tour requires anywhere from $15,000-20,000.

&#8220In terms of lodging, if we had something on-site, I would like to think we could (host an event),” Reynolds said.

While plans to host a big-name tournament event or build a hotel are not in the immediate future, Cambrian Ridge does have some big plans for this summer.

The course will host a junior camp this summer, several charity tournaments and a ladies clinic is in the works.

Cambrian Ridge is also selling trail cards for $40, which allows players to play at any course on the trail for a discounted price of nearly 50 percent off.

Proceeds from trail cards purchased at any Robert Trent Jones course through Sunday will go directly to help those in need in Enterprise following the tornadoes of last week.

Cambrian Ridge is also selling raffle tickets for a chance at free golf on the trail for a year. Tickets are $10 and the drawing will be held Monday. Every trail course is offering the raffle and each course will draw for a winner.

Reynolds also said Robert Trent Jones offers the cards for sale during fundraiser events, something both Fort Dale Academy and the Butler County School System has taken advantage off.

&#8220It's a great deal because for every card sold, the school gets $10,” Reynolds said.

For more information about up-coming events or to purchase a trail card, please contact Cambrian Ridge at 382-9787.