Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Smoke, heat take toll on Fairways golf

Rounds of play general flat at course, across the sport


August 16, 2018

Paul Delaney

Between heat and wildfire smoke, The Fairways golf course near Four Lakes is seeing its business being affected.

As another round of acrid wildfire smoke settled across the region recently, the conditions have affected many outside activities. However, for The Fairways Golf Course on the West Plains, the smoke is just one culprit.

"I think it's affected us in the past," Kris Kallem, head PGA pro and general manager said. "Three out of the last four years we've had this issue; there's not a lot we can do about it."

Kallem said, however, that in his estimation the smoke is not as much of a deterrent to play as is heat. "We went through a hot stretch last week and you know you are going to slow down with the heat." But August is vacation time and there is always a little bit of a drop off in rounds.

The hot spell was replaced by more seasonable temperatures in the low 80s, and even 70s on Sunday. Crowds picked up significantly. "We had way more of a bounce-back than I thought we would have," Kallem said.

That helped illustrate Kallem's point on the major influence heat plays on course play. "A 104-degree day in August is just as detrimental as a 48-degree day in March," he said.

Kallem said the course tries to cater to the weather-wary golfers. They offer an early-bird special with discounted rates before 8 a.m.

"We also have a better one we call 'Meet the Heat,' where if you are willing to play between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. ‚ the peak of the heat - you'll get a good rate, too,'" Kallem said.

Kallem said everyone wishes it was not hot or smoky, and he recalls, anecdotally, cycles beginning mid-June where high pressure would build for four or five days, followed by a cleansing and cooling  thunderstorm.

"We don't see thunderstorms hardly at all (like that) anymore," Kallem said.

Rounds and revenue are up a little in 2018 over 2017 when the course's water battle with the city of Spokane reached the boiling point and irrigation was cut off temporarily. 

"That's up from the worst year (2017) we've had since 2006," Kallem said. "I still think the reputation with the lawsuit (against the city of Spokane) hurts us."

But the industry as a whole continues to be flat, too.

That's the job he and other PGA pros at the course are entrusted with: to develop new golfers and help make those who currently play better so that they enjoy their outing.

By teaching skills, which hopefully translates into being better at the game, that is supposed to make the game more fun - and played more, Kallem said. "When they're playing better they're going to play more."

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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