Cold, wet weather drives a wedge into lo­cal golf sea­son

Lethbridge Herald - - HOMESTOWN NEWS - Dave Ma­bell LETH­BRIDGE HER­ALD

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 were hop­ing 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 minigolf should soon be open for play.

Fol­low @DMa­bel­lHer­ald on Twit­ter

Her­ald photo by Ti­jana Mar­tin

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...

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