Golf courses grappling with winter weather

By Clark Stork
April 5, 2018 - 5:00pm

Golf course managers around Saskatchewan are hoping for a change in the weather if they're going to open on time this year.

The general manager of the Melfort Golf and Country Club says he hasn’t seen this amount of snow on the course in April for almost a decade, and a later opening date is likely. The Melfort course opened April 20 and 27 during the last two seasons, but this year Kevin Ryhorchuk doesn’t expect to see golfers until at least the first week of May. He said this isn't the first time golf courses timetables have been altered by the weather.

“We’ve always said for years we would run from May 15 to October 15, but global warming has changed that. If we got golfers out before May that was a bonus,” Ryhorchuk told northeastNOW.

Ryhorchuk said a slow melt would be the best-case scenario for the course to open as soon as possible. If the weather warms too quickly, he said lakes and puddles could form on the course, and it’s still too early to tell how well the facilities fared over the winter season.

“Right now, with this amount of snow, it’s too hard and early to tell how the course wintered,” he said.

The Saskatchewan golf season is among the shortest in Canada, creating another issue when it comes to profitability. Ryhorchuk said a late start to the season does influence the course’s membership revenues.

“If we get an early start and the weather cooperates it does help, guaranteed,” he said. “At the tail end you maybe get to play longer, but that’s mostly member play anyways.”

The Cooke Municipal Golf Course in Prince Albert is facing the same concerns ahead of the season. Head Professional Darcy Myers said they are hoping for cooperation from Mother Nature during the month of April.

“We basically need some overnight melting and 24-hour a day melting,” Myers said. “We need some sunshine and wind to dry everything up once the snow is gone, because there is going to be a lot of moisture.”

The Cooke Municipal Course averages about 350 members per season, and while Myers said an earlier start could boost numbers, he doesn’t expect membership to decline if the course doesn’t open until May.

“If people only have so many days to play golf, and if it looks like we’re going to miss a couple weeks at the start, it can impact people’s decisions. I don’t find it does all the time, but it can play a part in the decision,” Myers said.

Myers is entering his ninth season as the professional in Prince Albert, and said he’s never seen this amount of snow on the course. Even still, Myers said he’s optimistic the season will be another great one, and the weather has dampened the spirits for the fans of the sport.

“The Masters is on this weekend, and that usually gets people in the mood for golf, but minus 27 with the wind chill isn’t helping that,” Myers said.

 

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