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New Madison golf professional introduced

Published On: Mar 31 2013 12:20:05 AM CDT
Updated On: Mar 31 2013 08:52:39 AM CDT

Hans Deryk/Reuters

MADISON, Wis. -

With the snow finally melting away in the Madison area, the thoughts of many have turned to golf.

The city of Madison has changed the way it runs its golf courses, making one man in charge of its four greens: Glenway, Monona, Odana Hills, and Yahara Hills.

Though it can be tough to tee off with ranges as white as they are green, the slow start to spring isn’t dampening the enthusiasm of golfer Bryan Johnson.

"I am so ready for the snow to be melted. I can't wait for it to get out of here," said Johnson.

Johnson could be without a job once that snow finally clears away.

He usually teaches golf to kids at one of the city's courses, but the pro he worked under was let go.

"But now that my boss is gone, I'm not exactly sure what the state of that is," said Johnson.

Trying to chip away at costs, the city scratched that boss – and three other subcontracted city golf professionals – with one man, Ian Nicoll.

According to his bio on the city’s website, Nicoll grew up playing golf and working in a country club in Westfield, Mass., working his way up at courses in Florida and Illinois.

Some tried to out-putt the new hire on Saturday as the city hosted a combination "Meet the Pro / Beat the Pro" event at Odaha Hills Golf Course.

At the event, Nicoll pushed for higher attendance out on Madison’s fairways.

"It's kind of an awareness campaign that we are out here," said Nicoll, "and we are available for golf and we're very affordable and the golf courses are in great shape."

As chair of Madison's golf sub-committee, Dan Smith weighed in on the decision to bring Nicoll on board.

"There are a lot of factors that will contribute to the success of golf in the city of Madison," said Smith.

Smith expects the sport will stay up to par under the new leadership, but he isn’t thrilled that the city chose to have a single professional instead of four.

"I was not happy with the way it happened. I thought it was unfortunate that people had given many years of service, and it changed," said Smith.

Johnson just hopes the season comes soon and that Nicoll can keep people swinging.

"The most important thing is just being able to relate with the golfers, know them, help them out, just be friendly around them, get people involved," said Johnson.

Smith said the call is supposed to save the city money, but no one will know whether or not it was the right decision until the year is up.

He added that even for non-golfers, revenue from the courses supports other parks and recreation initiatives, so a good golf leader is important.       

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