April 25th, 2018

Cold, wet weather drives a wedge into local golf season


By Mabell, Dave on April 17, 2018.

Ducks make their way towards a flooded patch of grass at Henderson Lake Golf Club on Monday afternoon. The amount of snow accumulated throughout the city this year has been unusually high and some golf courses are struggling to get the greens ready for the season as a result. Herald photo by Tijana Martin @TMartinHerald

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

For southern Albertans, the sight of robins on the lawn – and golfers on the fairway – is a herald of spring.

But not this year. Monday morning’s slushy precipitation means a further delay for what thousands are awaiting: the first day of golf!

Nearly a month after “spring” officially arrived, course officials are still scrambling to get their greens ready for play. Where some werehoping to welcome players as early as Wednesday, more are hoping to open this weekend at the soonest.

“This is a year like we’ve never seen before,” observes Cam Waldbauer, golf professional at historic Henderson Lake Golf Club.

Warmer temperatures over the last weekend helped clear the last snowdrifts, he says. “That really helped.”

But it led to the next challenge.

“Now there is so much water to pump,” as it drains into the low spots.

After that, crews can see what winter damage needs to be addressed. Then, Waldbauer says, they’ll determine whether “walking only” restrictions will be needed at first.

After waiting so long, he feels players won’t mind a little inconvenience. Henderson will be announcing its opening day – very soon, he hopes.

“I expect it to be pretty busy.”

With 27 greens and approaches to clean up, the folks at Picture Butte Golf Club have their work cut out.

“We still have the tarps on all our greens,” course superintendent Clint Collier reported Monday.

And despite milder weather, “there are still a few drifts left.”

The drainage system remains frozen, he adds, so plenty of pumping will be required.

“And our ponds are starting to crest.”

All going well, Collier says it’s possible the course could open sometime next week. Or at least part of the course.

“That will depend on which nine (holes) are ready first.”

Managers at several courses in the city are hoping to open this weekend – although Environment Canada forecasts Monday listed a 60 per cent “chance of rain showers or flurries” late Saturday.

At the Lethbridge Golf and Country Club, optimists have announced a Saturday opening. At Paradise Canyon Golf Resort, a recorded message tells callers the links will be ready “no earlier” than Friday.

But the clubs have been swinging all winter at another local venue. At the Evergreen Golf Centre, says manager Kevin Hamilton, the driving range remained open all winter.

As for the course? This is the first year there’s been not a single day of golf in March, he says.

“We had hoped to open Wednesday,” but that doesn’t look likely now.

“There’s lots of water out there,” and not just in the hazards.

“And our ponds are overflowing.”

But Evergreen offers a challenging alternative, even for those who have been using the driving range in recent months.

Hamilton says the 18-hole mini-golf should soon be open for play.

Follow @DMabellHerald on Twitter

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