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Thompson Park Golf Course opens for the season Monday

Apr. 13—WATERTOWN — Get the golf clubs out of the garage and get ready for the season.

The Thompson Park Golf Course opens on Monday.

With so much rain during the last two weeks, only nine holes will be ready for Monday's opening, with the other nine by May 1, golf course Manager Jordan Northrop said.

"The rain definitely put us behind," he said, "so this week we have to get it mowed."

It's the second year that the city will run the 18-hole course in Thompson Park after buying 63 acres for $3.4 million from Michael E. Lundy in 2023.

For months last year, the $3.4 million price tag divided the community, caused heated debate among City Council members and produced lots of headlines.

But that was last year.

"I think the controversy is behind us," Northrop said, stressing he's optimistic for the season.

The golf course has signed up 16 tournaments, up from nine. Calling it "a lofty goal," he's targeted 200 memberships, an increase from 171.

"I think this is going to be a cultural change year," he said.

Initially, local golfers didn't know what to expect last year after there was so much angst and turmoil. That might have kept some of them away, he said.

As the season went on last year, golfers heard there was a change in atmosphere at the golf course. Staff made it a focus to know members by name and to greet them, Northrop said.

"It felt more like a country club," said Taylor LaVere, the assistant golf course manager.

Members now know that they can make suggestions about what they'd like to see done — and they're going to be listened to, LaVere said.

That's why Northrop is optimistic, even through the golf course lost $296,000 last year and will not make money again this season.

"It's going take to a few more years," he said.

The pro shop has expanded inventory. A website will be launched in a week or two. The staff has returned — golf course Superintendent Ken Hicks and his assistant Todd Weller are back.

The course looked great two weeks ago until the rain fell in recent days, LaVere said. Monday's opening and Tuesday appear to have better forecasts with some sun and temperatures near 60.

"We just need it to stop raining," Northrop said.

While golf course staff prepare for the season, a new restaurant is taking over the clubhouse. David Marconi and his family will operate D.J.'s.

On Friday, a parks and recreation crew was busy repainting the interior.

Marconi hopes to open by May 1, with a staff of about 15 and featuring a full menu.

He's waiting for the city to sign the final contract.

"We're excited about it," he said.

Marconi, who has several years working in the local food industry, was the only vendor to submit a proposal to the city.

Spokes, a former downtown night spot, didn't return for a second season. The owner moved out of state.