FARMINGTON — Local golf courses are seeing more golfers so far in 2014 compared to past winters, and warm weather this weekend will likely help that trend continue.
The National Weather Service in Albuquerque is predicting high temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s on Saturday and in the 60s for Sunday in northwest New Mexico. On Monday, the weather service is predicting temperatures to reach the upper 50s or 60s.
Tom McClurg, the head golf pro at Hidden Valley Golf Club in Aztec, estimated that close to 300 rounds have been played at the course through the first six weeks of 2014. That's about a 20 to 25 percent increase from last year.
He expects that the next three days at the course will also be busy.
"We know we need snow, but let's get another couple good weekends," he said. "We try to be open every day we can."
Steve Schoch, the manager of Riverview Golf Course in Kirtland, said Riverview had one of its best Januarys since San Juan County took control of the course in the spring of 2010.
But, he said, January started off slowly at the golf course because of cold temperatures.
From Jan. 1 through Feb. 14, there were 1,627 rounds played at Riverview. That is a nearly 60 percent increase from the 1,021 rounds that were played at the course during that same time period in 2013, according to golf course records.
During that same time frame in 2012, there were 1,733 rounds played at Riverview. In 2011, there were 987 rounds played over those six weeks.
But despite the recent warm weather, Schoch said golf season won't really take off until professional golfers start playing major championships.
And, he said, it's possible San Juan County courses could lose their committed winter golfers from Durango, Colo., because Hillcrest Golf Club in Durango has announced it will open this weekend.
"It takes a different breed of cat to golf this time of year," Schoch said.
Schoch said he hopes the warmer weather will lead to a good year for golfers in the area.
An official from Piñon Hills Golf Course couldn't be reached for comment on Friday.