A 30-degree drop in temperatures accompanied by rain and threats of frost and snow in late April filled the parking lots and cash registers at video rental stores Friday and Saturday.
Meanwhile gardeners were scampering to cover their tender flowers and vegetables with every sheet and bucket they could find. Farmers weren't able to get in their fields.
And the guys who manage and man golf courses were lonely enough to be wearing Maytag service uniforms.
"When a farmer experiences bad weather, he has to put off what he wants to do until another day," Gerald McPherson says. "When you're running a golf course, it's a day that's lost forever."
McPherson should know He's been an owner of Rolling Hills Golf Course in Russellville for 16 years. Every day is an adventure, filled with uncertainties but emotionally fulfilling and potentially financially rewarding when everything works together as envisioned.
Since Gerald McPherson, his older brother Carroll, and Carroll's son Lanny bought what was then called the Burning Pines course from a group of six local investors in 1989, they have made dramatic improvements.
The McPhersons have doubled the number of holes from 9 to 18, quadrupled the size of the course from 42 acres to 160, and increased the number of rental carts from 30 to 65, and the buildings from an old cart shed to a modern pro shop and club house, a large maintenance building and several cart sheds.
Improvements to the course include six new or improved bodies of water, several sand traps, and 10 miles of water lines, some of it with 100-pound pressure.
"People don't realize the costs involved," Gerald said. "But those who were playing here knew a lot was going on. For 8 to 10 years, they played around bulldozers, track hoes, water lines, tractors and trucks, and we had very few complaints because players knew we were working hard to improve the course for them."
"When we first started, Carroll would sit on the tailgate of a truck or a cart and put greens fees in a box. Women players would have to go to the (adjacent) hospital to use a restroom," Gerald said. "We've come a long way since then."
When they took over, Gerald- who had previously managed a recreational vehicle accessory company in Elkhart, Ind.- was enjoying farming and Lanny was working at Logan Aluminum. "Carroll was working 12 hours a day. It was unbelievable how much work he put into this place," Gerald recalls. "He got tired and wasn't enjoying it. So I came out here to run it."
Now Gerald and his nephew Lanny are the owners. They've never employed a manager besides themselves. Gerald runs the office and the shop. Lanny, who left the aluminum plant to be at the golf course full-time, oversees the outdoor operation. Lanny's wife Joyce, a former banker, is the bookkeeper. They cooperate with each other in making decisions.
Over the years, some key employees have been involved in improving the course. Among them have been retired school teacher Mike Roberts, Lyndell Graham and Garnett Page. Larry Bailey, who has retired from other work, is the primary groundskeeper. He does much of the mowing and has built several attractive retaining walls.
Crews include other retirees such as Marion Wells, Ray Collins and Bobby Brown and part-time employees such as Pete Carnall, Clay Wagoner and Jerry Binkley, golfers who also have full-time jobs. Eric Cole has worked throughout high school and now in college. There are too many more to name them all.
Lanny and Joyce's son Ryan is taking courses at Western Kentucky University in golf club management.
Gerald's wife Teresa is a high school English teacher, and their children are grown.
Gerald says if the McPhersons were starting over, they couldn't do what they've done again. Times have changed. "For a long time, this was the only 18-hole public course in the region. We had a course before their was a Kenny Perry course in Franklin, before Heartland in Bowling Green, before the public courses at Trenton, Hopkinsville, Morgantown and Clarksville. Springfield has three very good courses that have started since we did," he says.
"People were willing to put up with a lot of construction while they played because they didn't have other choices. We had to have people playing while we were adding to the course so we could afford to make the improvements."
To help keep cash flowing during the off-season, the McPhersons instituted a Players' Pass this year. For a thousand dollars, an individual can play all year and get the use of a cart without any further costs. Since the weekday rate for 18 holes with a cart is $20, a pass holder would need to play more than 50 rounds to make it worthwhile. There's also a family rate.
Several people took advantage of the opportunity.
The McPhersons try to work with a variety of people and ages. They provide special rates for high school teams to senior citizens who get lower rates and shorter distances.
All-day rates are available as well as lowered rates for walkers and for those who furnish their own carts.
The scorecard shows four different tee distances, ranging from 6,379 yards to 4,877 for those using the red tee, which is for age 75 and over.
"I made sure everybody saw I was hitting from the red tees," says Bob Wylie of Auburn, who celebrated his 75th birthday recently. He's among many who are grateful for the opportunities Rolling Hills Golf Course provides.
One of the biggest pluses for the course is the availability of one of Kentucky's best teaching pros, Phillip Hatchett of Russellville, to furnish lessons to all skill levels.
For more information on Rolling Hills, call or visit the course, which is located behind Logan Memorial Hospital. The entrance is between the high school and the VFW.