By Mike Lauterborn

While the winter's uncharacteristic warmth kept plans on course to officially open the golfing season on Fairfield's municipal links, rain Saturday morning made things a virtual washout.

At the Carl Dickman Par 3 Golf Course on Old Dam Road, only the hardiest golfers made an appearance, like Doug Politi, a mason from Easton who really just stopped in to say hello to Bob McMahon, the cashier/starter.

Politi has played the course for the past seven years, typically showing up Fridays with about 15 other guys to play a round. Despite the rain, he thought the course looked good. "I'm going to call the guys and see if they want to play today," he said. "I played Short Beach in Stratford last week, and the conditions were good there, too."

McMahon said the groundskeeper, John Johnson, had inspected the course at daybreak. "If there's no significant standing water on the greens or in the cups, I'm free to open it," McMahon said.

"This is the earliest we've opened up in probably three or four years," he added. "We usually open mid-March or April 1. The decision to open was made by the Golf Commission, golf pro Jim Alexander and the head of the Parks and Rec, Gerry Lombardo."

Politi said the par-3 course is a great one for beginners, and not as long a walk as other courses in town. McMahon said that pros from other courses often send beginners to the par-3 links once they have some driving range experience and a few lessons.

The course was a salt marsh before being converted in 1969. A Nike missile site was installed nearby after World War II.

Tee times will not be needed until Saturday, March 10, according to the Parks and Recreation Department.

Players with a town golf identification card from 2011 should renew the ID online -- at www.HSRGolf.com -- before coming to play.

Golf IDs discounted for residents can be obtained at the H. Smith Richardson Golf Course pro shop or the Parks and Recreation Department office, 75 Mill Plain Road.

For more information, call 203-256-3173.