PEORIA, Ill. -- This is what golfers have been waiting for.
"Usually we're out two or three weeks before now playing. A good day like this should have been here about two weeks go but we'll take what we get," said Randy DeGroot, while playing his round Friday at Donovan Golf Course in Peoria.
Mike Burton was playing his third round in three days. He couldn't wait to hit the links.
"Ask my wife. She walks behind me with a paint brush fixing the ceiling where I make marks with all of my clubs," Burton joked.
Now he can replace his own divots.
The long awaited return of warm weather means instant business for local golf courses.
"We're seeing people standing in line almost just to get outside and play some golf," said Bill Woolard, superintendent of golf for the Peoria Park District.
But there are still reminders on some courses of Old Man Winter's unrelenting grip.
"The low areas where there are depressions or little holes in the fairways, the tees, the greens, will hold water and they'll freeze hard and actually suffocate the turf," explained Woolard.
Retail golf shops like Illini Golf are also finally seeing more traffic. The staff there says customers traditionally start getting fitted for clubs and buying equipment in March. This year was different. Until Friday.
"Most of the people are coming in and getting balls, gloves, tees," said Harry Storts, the store's assistant manager. "We know they're going out to play today and they need fresh equipment."
Which means a fresh start for business.