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Buffalo golf courses open FORE! players

Mike Desmond
The only birdies on Buffalo's South Park golf course had wings, but city courses are now open.

The only birdies on Buffalo's South Park golf course Tuesday had wings and were spending their time nibbling on the vast lawn made green by rain and wet, soggy ground. However, the city's golf courses are open for golf -- the old-fashioned way: walking while carrying or dragging a golf bag.

Cazenovia, Delaware and South Park are the city's public courses, run by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. This year, they will be run within the rules of New York PAUSE. There are also some traditional issues.

"We just opened the third course. So Delaware is fully open. Cazenovia is open. We just opened South Park," said Conservancy Executive Director Stephanie Crockatt. "That course, the conditions in the spring are pretty rough at times and I think we still have some pretty soggy conditions out there. But the greens are at least holding up enough for people to play."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Conditions are not ideal, but golfing is once again allowed on city courses.

The first hole in South Park, built on fill over a small lake, is always a little wet. Another part of the course is occasionally flooded by the park's resident beavers, as they build dams.

"Hopefully, we're not looking at spending five hours playing golf as just something that we can do," she said. "Hopefully, everybody's getting back to normal and we go back to playing our sports, all sports. There's kids and families and everyone that wants to play tennis. They want to play soccer. They want to play basketball, again. It's been hard on everybody."

Crockatt said golf hours have been expanded to 7 a.m.-8 p.m., but new rules will limit the number of tee times. Under the new rules, significantly fewer golfers will be out there searching for par. Crockatt said that is less income while maintenance costs aren't less.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"We need just as many because we're having to mow every day," she said. "We've got two very skilled greenskeepers -- one that takes care of Delaware Park and another that does both Caz and South Park -- and we need every working hand. We're still even trying to find more seasonal workers for the park system this year. So we're still hiring, right now."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.