There's some sure signs of spring beginning to appear on the Kenai Peninsula -- the snow is nearly gone, the shorebirds are returning to Kachemak Bay and golfers are returning to the links.
Birch Ridge Golf Course on the Sterling Highway in Soldotna has seen steady business since opening last Friday, according to Tom Walsh, the course's teaching pro.
"The driving range has been real busy," Walsh said, adding that many golfers have taken advantage of the recent warm, sunny weather to scrape some of the rust off their swings.
Many golfers' swings tend to suffer from lack of use during the winter months, while the course itself can suffer just as much under six feet of snow.
Walsh said that the Birch Ridge course weathered this past winter fairly well.
"It's starting to green up now," Walsh said. "The greens are in really good shape. We used a new seed last fall, and that seems to have done the trick. We didn't have much snow mold or anything."
The greens aren't quite ready to be played on just yet -- golfers at Birch Ridge are using temporary greens which consist of a hole placed just short of the green, with some white paint defining the edge of the green.
"If you get on, you take an automatic two-putt," Walsh said.
Walsh said that there's still some work left to do to get the course into championship condition. Over the next week, the greens will be aerated. After the plugs are removed, the greens will be seeded and then top-dressed with sand.
"Then we let Mother Nature take her course," Walsh said.
Over at the Kenai Golf Course, all the carts have been taken out of the garage and serviced, and the spring cleanup is under way, though the course won't be ready for golfers until May 15 or so.
"It was a really good winter," said Don Morgan during a break from his chores around the course. "The course is drying out nicely. It still gets cool at night, so we have to be careful."
The crew at the Kenai course has started pulling up the tarps that covered the greens over the winter, revealing grass underneath that already looks green and healthy.
"It's pretty amazing how well they work," Morgan said. "It gives us a real jump-start on (the greens). The biggest problem is keeping the moose off because they're still soft."
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