Hits, misses at golf courses

With the sun shining and the snow finally melted, golf courses throughout Central Alberta are finally opening their doors this week.

With the sun shining and the snow finally melted, golf courses throughout Central Alberta are finally opening their doors this week.

But not all of them.

A couple had the misfortune to suffer damage caused by the winter season that stretched into April.

The Lacombe Golf Club is one of those.

Three of the club’s greens were hit hard by the cold and snow and need an extra couple of weeks to be in playing shape.

They could open with temporary greens on Holes 4, 10 and 14, but, according to head pro Kevin Broderson, it would be a counter-productive move.

“There’s always that thought (of using temporary greens) but our reputation has been our greens and we don’t want to take away from that,” he said.

“We don’t want to open up until they’re ready and they’re at the level of playability that our members and green fee payers have come to expect.”

The rest of the course is in terrific shape he said, especially the fairways, but hed believes the older poa grass mixed with the winter was a bad combination as snow mould took hold.

The course has been in its current location since 1914 with grass greens being installed in 1970.

Still, the driving range has been open for business since a week ago and has been busy when the weather has co-operated.

The Nursery Golf Course is just a few kilometres away from the Lacombe Golf Club, but officials there say the course is in the best shape it has been in its 20 years coming out of the winter.

Karl Dillman, the club’s general manager, is unsure of the cause for the difference.

“I don’t know what happened, because the guys across the street got hammered and we are probably in the best spring shape we’ve ever been in,” said Dillman, noting they opened their front nine on Wednesday and were set to open the full course this weekend.

“We really didn’t do anything super different.”

He added the biggest change was a slight adjustment in fungicide after having difficulties with snow mould last year.

The Olds Golf Club is opening in two stages, running with just the back nine for two weeks before opening up the front nine as well, targeting May long weekend. Like Lacombe, a couple of greens still need a couple of weeks to bounce back to full health.

“Our back nine is a newer nine than the front, so with the weird winter we’ve had, we have a few spots on the front nine (that need repair) but they’ve been tarped and they’re fixed up, we’re just letting them germinate,” said head pro Wade Bearchild.

Pine Hills Golf Club by Rocky Mountain House will also be delayed, but the issue there is the fact that there is still snow on the course.

Due to the location and the tree coverage, there is a limited amount of time for sun exposure.

The greens and fairways are mostly clear, however, and while there is some winter damage, executive golf professional Brian Miller is happy with what he has seen so far.

“We’re pleasantly surprised with most of the shape out there,” he said.

“We’ve got a few greens we’re putting a little extra care into and re-tarping at night … and trying to keep the heat in them so they take off a little more.”

They will wait until May 12 to open and then it will only be the original nine holes. They will go day-to-day on opening the rest of the course.

jaldrich@bprda.wpengine.com

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