Dust off the clubs: Some golf courses are set to open this week

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It's time to dust off the clubs and get in some practice swings.

Playing on frost or frozen soil can be very damaging to golf greens, but this week's above-average temperatures and limited snow cover in much of southern Minnesota has helped frost start to leave the ground, MPR News says. In Waseca, the top 2 inches of soil is free of frost.

This is good news for golfers who are looking to get in their first round of the season now that it's warmer.

Some driving ranges and golf courses in Minnesota are preparing to open later this week, according to the Minnesota Golf Association's (MGA) website.

Oakdale's Oak Marsh Golf Club's driving range opened March 8, but the course isn't open yet.

Tanners Brook Golf Club in Forest Lake and Whispering Pines Golf Course are planning to open their courses this weekend, weather permitting, the MGA says.

The City of Minneapolis announced Tuesday that the Columbia Driving Range and Learning Center opened Monday and the Gross National Driving Range and Learning Center will open Tuesday, while the Columbia Golf Club will open as weather conditions allow.

Other courses around the state may also be opening up, but they haven't been reported to the MGA, the association says.

Some courses in Iowa have already opened for the season, Twin Cities Golf notes.

Although golf has been on the decline in Minnesota and the U.S. in recent years – 18 of Minnesota's more than 400 golf courses have closed in the last eight years, KSTP says – the sport still provides a major boost to the state's economy.

Golf-related activities had a total economic impact of $2.4 billion in the state in 2006, the Minnesota Golf Economy study found, with the direct golf economy at roughly $1.2 billion – on par with other industries including dairy products ($1.1 billion) and accounting, tax and payroll services ($1.4 billion).

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