Weather Dictates Course Closures, Staying Open For Business
- Category: Inside Golf
- Published: 2019-10-24
By GORD MONTGOMERY, Inside Golf
SPRUCE GROVE, Alberta — For golfers in north-central Alberta, and particularly in the Spruce Grove/Stony Plain area just west of Edmonton, the season from here on in is simply all about the weather. If it stays nice The Links at Spruce Grove will stay open until it’s too cold to venture outside with sticks in hand. But other courses have already shut their doors like the Stony Plain Golf Course.
It’s been a short summer this year with buckets of rain falling on the area, creating booking and playing havoc for most courses, with Stony Plain especially feeling the pinch. Their executive pro, Jeff Cuthbertson, noted they’d “lost almost 70 days due to weather.” The biggest issue for them, besides the poor weather, was that they were hoping to make up for lost revenue with 18 new putting surfaces.
“The weather was terrible. Really terrible but our new greens came through it excellent with a good root base,” said Cuthbertson. “They’re super strong and look like they been there five years already. With the new greens, it was an absolutely great turnaround,” in having the green fee paying public come back.
That was much the same case at The Links, which hadn’t lost their greens but saw play slowed this year by what seemed to be almost constant rain. But, said head pro Veeraphon Thephasouvanh, hopefully some of that lost revenue can be made up as they plan on staying open as long as possible in the fall. That was evident in mid-October as the tee sheet was jammed every day as the weather warmed a bit.
“We typically keep the course open until the ground is frozen, or covered with snow,” the pro explained about future plans for playing out the 2019 season.
One of the main reasons for that is The Links maintenance staff did some preemptive work in getting the track ready for the cool weather.
“We aerate our greens a little earlier than most courses do,” explained Thephasouvanh. “We did that, I want to say, the third week of August. When we do it at that time it’s still summery and they fill in good in about a week. We don't punch them for the rest of the year.”
At The Links At Spruce Grove, Some Early Fall Aeration To The Greens Has Them In Fine Form Allowing The Course To Stay Open Unitl The Ground Freezes, Meaning It's One Of The Last In This Part Of Alberta To Shut Its Doors For The Winter.
The driving range at the Spruce Grove track will stay open until the course shuts down, as will the restaurant, which has become a popular spot for not only golfers but casual diners as well. The hours will change slightly once the actual course closes but still be open for seasonal hours.
Back in Stony, with their new greens in for their first Alberta winter, some extra precaution is being taken. “The ice was so bad last year that we were using plate tampers trying to bust ice,” off of greens, said Cuthbertson, who said they have plans to use other ice-preventative measures along with tarps.
Because the grass is new, Stony is closed their doors on October 20. “We want to make sure the grounds’ crew has the time to do aeration … to do the best they can to make sure we hopefully get through winter. The grass is strong and healthy and new grass is less susceptible to disease,” ended Cuthbertson.
When the snow finally flies enough to shut down all the courses in this area, Stony has plans on keeping their doors open by again using virtual reality simulators. They did that last year and found that after a while, it was quite popular. This year they plan on having their restaurant/bar open alongside the machine, so players can enjoy food and drink while they swing away.
For information on Stony’s SIM hours and costs, and restaurant hours, give the course a call at 780-963-2133. For The Links, call them at 780-962-4653 for tee times up until it’s too cold, or snowy to play, and for restaurant hours once that happens.