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December 23, 2015

Philadelphia golfers taking advantage of mild winter temperatures

If rain holds off, city municipal courses expect it to be busy Thursday

It will not be a white Christmas. It won't even be a cold Christmas.

For many, Mother Nature's betrayal of the holiday spirit is disappointing. But others remain full of cheer.

For proof, visit any of Philadelphia's public golf courses Thursday – if the rain holds off.

"This has been a wonderful November and December for us," said Joe Picardi, assistant manager of FDR Golf Club in South Philadelphia. "Mother Nature has given us unseasonably warm weather. It absolutely affected our amount of golfers. It's slower than the regular season, but for this time of year, it's remarkably good."

High temperatures have failed to reach 50 degrees only twice in December. In November, the high temperature reached at least 60 degrees 19 times and reached 70 degrees four times.

Temperatures are expected to remain unseasonably high throughout the week, according to the National Weather Service. Thursday will be the warmest with a predicted high of 74 degrees, the first time the thermometer could surpass 70 degrees this month.

While the temperature looks promising for local golf courses, the forecasted precipitation does not. The chance of rain on Thursday stands at 60 percent. It drops to 50 percent on Saturday and 30 percent on Sunday.

Christmas Day, when golf courses are closed, is expected to be partly sunny with a high temperature of 66 degrees. The chance of precipitation sits at 20 percent.

In spite of the forecasted rain, golfers are booking tee times.

"We're getting a lot of calls for tomorrow," said Bob Wheeler, general manager of Juniata Golf Course in Northeast Philly. "It's going to be a nice day. If the rain holds up, we'll be packed in here. We'll be very crowded. The weekend should be the same thing, but it all depends on what the rain is going to do."

Though members are known to play year-round, Wheeler acknowledged the crowds are abnormal for this time of year. He's hoping the mild winter continues.

"Usually, when it gets down into the low 40s, high 30s is when you see a high drop off," Wheeler said.

That's when a frost covers the ground and early-morning tee times must be pushed back. But that hasn't consistently happened yet.

"Obviously, it all depends on the weather," said Mike Owsik, the head golf professional at Cobb's Creek Golf Club in West Philadelphia. "If there's snow on the ground, we're closed. It's a little abnormal for this time of year."