Grand Forks Golf

After chilling weather subsides, golf courses in Grand Forks area open

With the weather warming up Wednesday and above average temperatures forecast through next week, many in Grand Forks are dusting off their golf clubs and hitting the links.

 All four public golf courses in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks are now open, and  Whispering Oaks in Manvel, N.D., is planning to open its greens Friday.

The early to mid-start date for golfing is pretty typical for courses in the Upper Midwest, said Dan Tannahill, golf course manager for the Grand Forks Park District. Tannahill said the Park District was hoping to open both King’s Walk and Lincoln golf courses earlier, but the below-average temperatures that persisted into early April pushed the start date back.

For the courses to open, Tannahill said the grass has to be thawed and is ready to handle the wear and tear from players and carts.

Ray Richards Golf Course, which is run by UND, opened its course Tuesday, a week later than the Parks District, said Dustin Hetletved, the general manager for the course. That decision was made in part because of the chilly weather. There’s not a magic temperature he said he looks for when deciding when to open, but it needs to be tolerable for the players.

“If it’s 30 degrees and windy out, nobody is going to come out to golf,” Hetletved said. “But Tuesday was in the mid-40s and the wind wasn’t too bad, so we opened and people came and golfed. Then today was gorgeous and people are everywhere.”

Despite the short golf season in the region, people in Grand Forks are turning out in record numbers to the city’s courses, and both Hetletved and Tannahill are expecting good years.

According to data from the Grand Forks Park District, King’s Walk exceeded $1 million in revenue in 2015, up from the $986,803 it made the previous year. Along with that, the course saw about 2,300 more rounds of golf played at the course in 2015 than 2014.

Lincoln Golf Course also saw an increase in both revenue and rounds of golf in 2015, with the course making $255,279 and 17,626 rounds played.

Because of the area’s short summer, Tannahill said he thinks the sport remains popular because people always are looking for good reasons to enjoy the warm months.

“We take advantage of the nice weather by being outside, and one of the ways to do it — no matter the age or gender — is to come to the golf course and get some outside activity in,” he said.

When the courses open:

King’s Walk, Grand Forks: Opened April 5

Lincoln, Grand Forks: Opened April 6

Ray Richards, Grand Forks: Opened Monday

Valley Golf Course, East Grand Forks: Opened Saturday

Whispering Oaks, Manvel, N.D.: Planning to open Friday


Monday Scramble: Ranking Masters favorites

Masters week finally arrives, Jim Herman stuns in Houston, Lydia Ko dazzles us again, Tiger Woods masters the Friday news dump and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:

The Masters is always the most anticipated major, for a few reasons:

It’s the tournament most players most want to win. It’s the inherent beauty and mystique of Augusta National. And it’s the Masters’ place on the calendar – eight months have passed since the last major championship, and every event since has felt like a referendum on the list of favorites.

But this year feels a bit different, no?

Fourteen PGA Tour events have been played in 2016. Eight have been won by major champions, and four former Masters winners have already won a title this year. It’s why the Masters field is so small – almost all of the top players are snatching up titles (and, by extension, the automatic invitations).

Four of the top five players in the world have won an event this year, and the only guy who hasn’t, Rory McIlroy, blew a 54-hole lead at Doral and is, well, Rory McIlroy, so he’s a threat every time he tees it up. McIlroy and the other top two players in the world – the winners of five of the past six majors – are all 8-1 odds or better to win at Augusta.

The point here is that this Masters has all the makings of an instant classic, of one of the most memorable majors in the past two decades. Too many great players are in form for there to be a rout, a dud winner, a lack of drama on the back nine.

  1. Jason Day: The rare player who can smash right-to-left tee shots and sky-high irons while also dazzling around the greens with one of the game’s best short games. The only thing he hasn’t done at Augusta – where he already has a pair of top-3s – is win.
  2. Adam Scott: Augusta’s stressful greens will test his revamped stroke, but Scott’s ball-striking is strong enough to give himself a great shot at a second green jacket.
  3. Bubba Watson: The favorite as the Tour left the West Coast, Watson contended at Doral but tweaked his back and then bowed out early at the Match Play. Both of his Masters wins have come in even-numbered years and following victories at Riviera and runners-up at Doral. Hmmm.
  4. Jordan Spieth: Not exactly peaking heading into Augusta, with five over-par scores in his last 10 rounds, but in his young career he’s already shown a remarkable ability to rise to the occasion on the biggest stages.
  5. Rickie Fowler: The timing just seems right: He’s in good form, with a win in Abu Dhabi and a bunch of other top finishes, and he’s placed in the top 12 in each of the past two Masters. Too bad orange and green don’t go well together.
  6. Rory McIlroy: Yes, his pursuit of the career Grand Slam remains a major storyline this week, but it almost seems as if he’s flying under the radar, with Day’s emergence and Spieth’s defense. If he can have a decent putting week and avoid a nine-hole blowup, it could be his week.
  7. Phil Mickelson: For years, Lefty’s early-season struggles were disregarded because his record at Augusta was so good – Don’t worry, he’ll find his game once he heads down Magnolia Lane. Though he remains winless since July 2013, he has played well during the year’s first few months. Now, expectations are understandably high.
  8. Dustin Johnson: His physical tools are undeniable and he’s coming off his best result at the Masters (T-6). It remains to be seen, once again, whether he has the discipline to handle the Sunday pressure.
  9. Louis Oosthuizen: His runner-up at the Match Play (his fifth consecutive top-15) eliminated any chance of being a Masters sleeper, but perhaps King Louie will go overlooked after laying an egg in his final tune-up in Houston.
  10. Justin Rose: Quiet start to the year, but he owns one of the best scoring averages on Tour and has finished outside the top 25 only twice in 10 career trips to Augusta.


2016 Masters odds: Jason Day is your new favorite at Augusta National

We always say the Masters is wide open, but this year there’s no overwhelming favorite and just about every single top player in the world is playing well coming into Augusta.

The Masters has a much smaller field than the other majors, hovering around 90 this year compared to the 156 players at the U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship. Within that 90-player set, a handful of old-timers, rookies, and amateurs can be immediately eliminated. You might be able to whittle it down to a group of, say, 15 players you think have a very good chance to win.

The value of betting on the actual favorites is not going to be worth it. Sure, Tiger Woods was the dominant face of the game and you might pick him to win, but betting him at 3/1 to win was not good value. Pegging this Masters seems especially difficult because all the top players, both those who are the famous faces and at the top of the world rankings, have played well through the first quarter of the year. Rory McIlroy is the only player in the top six of the Official World Golf Rankings without a win, but he hasn’t exactly hacked it up all year either. In the past, it was easy enough to weed out those favorites as just a renowned name that the public might unknowingly back. There’s not really any example of that this year.

The slight favorite at the top of Masters week is Jason Day at 7/1. His “Big Three” compatriots, defending champ Jordan Spieth and McIlroy, are 8/1, per Jeff Sherman of the Las Vegas SuperBook and Day comes to the Masters having regained the world No. 1 ranking after two straight wins against deep fields at some of the Tour’s premier events. It makes sense that he would be the favorite. He’s got all the advantages that work at Augusta — embarrassingly long off the tee and a hot putter. That’s an advantage everywhere, but it can be extra helpful at the season’s first major. Day has second- and third-place finishes in just a five-year Masters career. He’s a sensible pick to win, but as I noted above, the 7/1 line given all the talent around him is not good value.

The better values rest a little further down the list somewhere from 25/1 to 60/1. Charl Schwartzel and Patrick Reed at 40/1 are enticing and Louis Oosthuizen at 30/1 will be everyone’s trendy pick by Thursday morning. Only three rookies have ever won at Augusta, the last being Fuzzy Zoeller wayyy back in 1979. But if you’re looking way down the odds for a longshot, the rookies, some of whom have been the best players in the world over the past year, are ones to tab. Players like Justin Thomas, Emiliano Grillo, Smylie Kaufman, Kevin Kisner and even Andy Sullivan have long odds but it would not surprise those who follow closely to see them on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday. It’s easy to fall in love with the new guys and “young talent” but if you want good longshots, go that direction.

Here are your odds for the entire field as Masters week begins. There may be some slight movement based on what happens during the practice days, but don’t expect much (via Jeff Sherman):

Player Odds to Win
Jason Day 7/1
Jordan Spieth 8/1
Rory McIlroy 8/1
Bubba Watson 12/1
Adam Scott 12/1
Rickie Fowler 15/1
Phil Mickelson 15/1
Dustin Johnson 20/1
Henrik Stenson 20/1
Justin Rose 25/1
Hideki Matsuyama 30/1
Louis Oosthuizen 30/1
Patrick Reed 40/1
Charl Schwartzel 40/1
Zach Johnson 50/1
Brandt Snedeker 50/1
Danny Willett 50/1
Brooks Koepka 60/1
Matt Kuchar 60/1
Sergio Garcia 60/1
Paul Casey 60/1
Marc Leishman 60/1
Jimmy Walker 80/1
Branden Grace 80/1
Justin Thomas 100/1
Bill Haas 100/1
Harris English 100/1
Ryan Moore 100/1
Jason Dufner 100/1
Kevin Kisner 100/1
Charley Hoffman 100/1
J.B. Holmes 125/1
Ian Poulter 125/1
Kevin Na 125/1
Martin Kaymer 150/1
Lee Westwood 150/1
Angel Cabrera 150/1
Billy Horschel 150/1
Shane Lowry 150/1
Danny Lee 150/1
Byeong Hun An 150/1
Kevin Streelman 150/1
Andy Sullivan 150/1
Keegan Bradley 200/1
Victor Dubuisson 200/1
Chris Kirk 200/1
Graeme McDowell 200/1
Webb Simpson 200/1
David Lingmerth 200/1
Bernd Wiesberger 200/1
Jamie Donaldson 200/1
Scott Piercy 200/1
Russell Knox 200/1
Emiliano Grillo 200/1
Rafael Cabrera Bello 200/1
Hunter Mahan 250/1
Ernie Els 250/1
Fred Couples 250/1
Anirban Lahiri 250/1
Daniel Berger 250/1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 250/1
Chris Wood 250/1
Bryson DeChambeau 250/1
Robert Streb 300/1
Cameron Smith 300/1
Thongchai Jaidee 300/1
Kiradech Aphibarnrat 300/1
Smylie Kaufman 300/1
Steven Bowditch 500/1
Vijay Singh 500/1
Troy Merritt 500/1
Fabian Gomez 500/1
Bernhard Langer 500/1
Davis Love III 500/1
Soren Kjeldsen 500/1
Vaughn Taylor 500/1
Trevor Immelman 1000/1
Darren Clarke 1000/1
Jin Cheng 1000/1
Romain Langasque 2000/1
Derek Bard 2000/1
Mike Weir 2500/1
Mark O’Meara 2500/1
Tom Watson 2500/1
Sammy Schmitz 2500/1
Paul Chaplet 2500/1
Sandy Lyle 5000/1
Ian Woosnam 5000/1
Larry Mize 9000/1