By PAUL ANTONELLI
For the Express
JOHNSTOWN — As Chris Mathewson heads into his second season as head golf professional at Hales Mills Country Club, he has a say in almost everything and anything that involves the golf course: From running tournaments, to repairing clubs, to making sure his pro shop is fully stocked.
But one area where Mathewson has no control is, of course, the weather.
Rainy and cool weather has dampened the spirits of area golfers this spring as they attempt to shake off the winter cobwebs with hopes of attacking the links. Hales Mills opened for business on April 8.
“The weather hasn’t been cooperating,” Mathewson said. “As soon as the weather gets nice, we get hammered with bad weather again.”
Hales Mills, under the ownership of Roy Dykeman, enters its seventh year of operation and the decision to install new drainage on the course a few years back is paying big dividends on the par-72, 6,418-yard layout.
“We put a lot of new drainage in and plan to add some more,” Dykeman said. “When we purchased this eight years ago, it was in rough shape. Golfers want good conditions.”
Dykeman is proud of the maturation of his golf course, especially the greens.
“I believe our greens are one of the best in the area,” said Dykeman who credited course superintendent Carl Albanese with keeping the greens in tip-top shape. “I rank them right up there with Saratoga National. They roll true and are smooth.”
Mathewson said approach shots to the greens are key to scoring low on a layout that feature four sets of tee boxes on each hole.
“If you get on the wrong side of the green, it can be a challenge,” Mathewson said.
Mathewson has been involved in the game of golf ever since he was a child. Growing up across the street from the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course, Mathewson starred for the Amsterdam High School golf team before playing college golf at both Wagner College and the College of Saint Rose. He went on to learn the business side of the sport — earning a degree in Golf Complex Operations and Management from the now-defunct Golf Academy of America in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Before taking the job at Hales Mills, Mathewson was the assistant professional for four years under Joe Merendo at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.
He is currently an Apprentice of the PGA of America in which he is working on becoming a Class A Professional.
“I’m really happy with what we’re doing here,” Mathewson said. “We’re always looking to improve. We added a bunker on the eighth hole and renovated the area around that green. We also got rid of some trees on that hole and added a new bed of flowers. It’s looking great.”
Dykeman said owning a golf course is a challenging business, but like the weather, some things he just can’t control.
Mathewson also plans to hold clinics this summer with hopes of bringing in youngsters and women.
“We’re trying to get young people and women more involved,” Mathewson said. “The clinics will be geared toward them.”
The other facets of the Hales Mills business continue to go strong. The venue recently served over 500 dinners on Easter Sunday and Mother’s Day is close to selling out. The restaurant is open every day during golf season and four days a week during the winter months.
Hales Mills will be offering a Tuesday special comprised of 18 holes of golf, cart and burger for $28. The course also offers a $25 twilight special featuring 18 holes with a cart every day after 4 p.m.
“We’re ready to go,” Mathewson said. “Now, we just need some good weather.”