Spring season misery for golfers

Anthony Abbondanza
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Golf clubs are reeling after one of the harshest winters in recent memory; the late start to spring delaying the clean-up effort by up to three weeks.

According to Doug Meyer, superintendent at Beaconsfield Golf Club, around 80 per cent of the course was still blanketed by snow as of late last week.

As such, golf courses around the West Island, and Off-Island, are set to open within first week of May 1, according to local golf clubs.

While the snow and ice removal effort began in February at Beaconsfield Golf Club (49 Golf Ave., Pointe Claire), 80 per cent of the course is still blanketed by snow -a course which opened April 2 this time last year.

In an effort to open the private golf club by the first week of May, cleanup crews continue to remove their three tarp coverage: impermeable, permeable, and bubble tarps.

"A lot of guys were panicking this year. There will be some loss on the greens," said Doug Meyer, the club's superintendent.

Though Meyer is expecting a 10-15 per cent loss on greens, the figure, he said, is good compared to golf clubs in Toronto and Detroit.

And with an 80 to 100 day tarp system –an imposed time limit – for snow and ice coverage, the crew is hurrying the cleanup effort.

"The quicker we remove the ice the better," Meyer added.

More importantly, the century-old club has spent 10 per cent more than usual on the cleanup effort, mostly due to extensive tree damage caused by several winter storms in November and January.

Whatever we lose now, we’ll have to cheat somewhere else to balance. We’re not going to go back to the members and change the fees,” said Meyer,

Off-Island, the Summerlea Golf and Country Club (1000 de Lotbinière, Vaudreuil-Dorion) is also preparing for a late, yet undetermined start to the season –courtesy of slow melting snow.

"The sun is not out. It's not good melting weather. So everything just backs up and we don’t have a lot of crew," said John Scott, Summerlea's superintendent.

And the cleanup effort –composed of ice breakage, tarp removal and storage, and general maintenance of plants and shrubs - at the private golf club, located in Vaudreuil, is also taking a little longer than in years past.

The average start date at the club is April 20.

"We were able to do the work easier last year," said Scott. "There wasn't as much snow around the green. Normally snow is melting pretty fast by now. It didn’t do that this year."

"...It's taking a little longer more than normal. Getting around is also hard especially around greens."

Both Meyer’s and Scott’s cleanup effort will receive a major boost as this week’s weather is forecasted between 10-14C and sunny with a 40 per cent chance of rain on Saturday.

Impact on club finances

The late start to the golf season impacts private and public golf clubs differently.

At Summerlea and Beaconsfield golf clubs, where membership is stable and the annual budget is long set, late starts have little effect, if any.

Public golf clubs like Golf Dorval (2000 Reverchon Ave., Dorval), however, lose revenue the longer they remain closed.

According to Jean-Guy Cote, Golf Dorval's club manager, the public course lost approximately 2000 golfers compared to previous years.

“Last year it was a bit down because we started late and the spring was really bad,” said Cote.

As they have yet to determine an opening date, they may lose more.

Golf Dorval has opened its course around April 26 the last three years, three weeks later than the opening normal less than a decade ago.

“I hope it’s a lot better this year,” Cote told The Chronicle.

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Organizations: Beaconsfield Golf Club, Summerlea Golf and Country Club, The Chronicle

Geographic location: West Island, Pointe Claire, Toronto Detroit Vaudreuil

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