As noted in an email to customers earlier this week, University Ridge Golf Course in Madison has had its share of challenges over the last 12 months.

"Flooding in August. Bunker construction on (No.) 16 in September. Back nine closed in October. No golf in April," the email read before cutting to the chase:

"No more bad news! We are ready to open May 1st!!"

The host of the American Family Insurance Championship and the WIAA state tournaments will finally join the list of courses open for the season by mid-week next week. And that's assuming there aren't more challenges thrown the course's way this weekend with the possibility of measurable snow in the forecast.

Here are some of the highlights of improvements to University Ridge over the past eight months:

• Wadsworth Golf Construction, the original builders of University Ridge, came back in September and reshaped and replaced the sand in all 44 (previously 46) of the bunkers on the back nine. They used the Better Billy Bunker system which will improve drainage and sand quality.

This spring, they will have completed Nos. 1 through 3 and 7 through 9 by opening day. They will come back again late this fall to complete Nos. 4 through 6, so those holes will be unchanged for this season.

After Wadsworth finishes up its work on the bunkers, it will be sodding the two tee boxes that were lost in the flooding last summer on No. 4. Golfers will have the choice to play the AmFam Championship tee box or play from the front of the fairway until the sod is ready for play.

Meanwhile, a new 20-foot tall Celebration Maple tree was planted on No. 2 late last fall to replace the two trees that were lost during the summer of 2017. The absence of a tree near the green took some of the challenge out of a par-5 that became reachable in two shots without much risk/reward consideration on the second shot.

Also, a new, nine-hole Putting Course was added to our putting green that changes daily. It has already been a popular addition to the facility, according to the email.

Finally, improvements were made to the front and side counters in the pro shop to enhance the look and flow as golfers come-and-go.

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