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The Yankee Express

First day of spring, first shots hit at Dudley Hill Golf Club

Apr 08, 2021 03:01PM ● By Rod Lee

Ed Ohlmeyer, Pedro DeJesus and Tim King on the first tee at Dudley Hill Golf Club on March 20. They are co-workers at IPG in Oxford.

As is so typical of New England, one moment winter seems to have a firm grip on the situation and the next players are at the first tee at Dudley Hill Golf Club, which is exactly what transpired the morning of March 20—the first day of spring.
“My wife thinks I’m raking the leaves!” Tim King, who had joined Ed Ohlmeyer and Pedro DeJesus in a threesome, said, to spontaneous laughter all around, with temperatures in the 50s and the sun shining. They were in a jovial mood, with clubs in hand and green acreage stretching before them. The reason for their upbeat attitude was obvious. They were back on the links possibly earlier than they would have thought possible.
Mr. Ohlmeyer had just struck the first shot, a low bullet that carried more than two hundred yards down the left side of the fairway. He seemed pleasantly surprised.
It was Opening Day at Dudley Hill Golf Club, a nine-hole course nestled next to Nichols College, and golfers like Mr. Ohlmeyer and his pals were eager to get back into action.
Clubhouse Manager Jim Siekierski, who was accepting the payment of greens fees through a window of the building, was also upbeat. A friendly man, he has worked at Dudley Hill for sixteen years.
“For this time of year, it’s drying out quick,” he said. “We just cut the greens. After a week or so they will turn brown but they will come back.
“We’re part of the Tri State Golf Company, with Raceway (in Thompson), which opened last week, and we have a course in Rhode Island, Melody Hill in Chepachet, which also opened last week. We just bought another course, a nine-hole course, in Harrisville, Rhode Island.”
The satisfaction of seeing Dudley Hill being able to begin welcoming golfers two weeks before Easter was apparent in Mr. Siekierski’s comments.
“Last year, we didn’t get going until May 8, because of COVID-19,” he said.
Again in 2021, precautions are in place. Mr. Siekierski was masked. The clubhouse is closed to foot traffic, as it was in 2020. Whether the kitchen and restaurant will resume operations “is yet to be determined,” he said. “We are selling beer out of the window. You have to have beer on the golf course.” Golf carts are not being used right now, in that the course is still soft and wet. As to ball washers becoming operational soon, that’s a “maybe,” he said.
“With four courses” in its stable, the Tri State Golf Company has “in the neighborhood of five hundred members and with a season pass they can play any one or all of the four of our courses at any given time,” he said.
Mr. Siekierski said Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont gave golf courses an all-clear to open earlier than those in Massachusetts last year “and half the vehicles were from Massachusetts.”
He is optimistic that 2021 will be better for golfers than 2020 was.
He’s ready. “I’ve had my second (vaccination),” he said.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.