The winter from hell was a gift from the heavens for golf courses.
Everything that people in Edmonton complained about -the amount of snow, the plodding, long winter -were all hailed for bringing some of the best spring golf conditions the city has seen in many years.
“We had a ridiculous amount of snow and that was great for the golf course,” said Cougar Creek superintendent Bill Gregoire. “The greens this year are 100 per cent. Very little ice damage. It’s been a great start for Cougar Creek and the guys in the golf shop.”
Gregoire said the key was that Edmonton got a good early freeze and then a lot of snow cover to keep everything frozen until it was time for the plants to wake up.
“I know most people didn’t like it, but we didn’t have the type of winter where it would get to 10 or 11 degrees and then drop down to minus-20. The temperature stayed below zero most of the winter and those are the conditions you need for good spring results.”
Daryl Asher, superintendent at Glendale, which opened last week, also raved about the conditions.
“You didn’t get those freeze/thaw cycles so that plants we r e pretty much protected,” said Asher.
” T h e s n ow acted like an insulating blanket, so there were more consistent temperatures for the plants. You want static temperatures. You don’t want the big jumps in the middle of winter even though I’m sure a lot of people would have liked to have had those kinds of breaks in the weather.”
But what’s good for grass and other plants during the winter isn’t the desire of most humans. Unless, of course, you’re a golf course superintendent. Or a golfer.
“Best conditions I’ve seen in 35 years,” said Tom White, a member at Glendale.
“Ideal winter,” said Duane Sharpe, superintendent at Blackhawk, who estimated that Edmonton had 150 days under snow. “Despite such a late start, we’re in June condition.
“It froze in November, then the snow came and left a nice thick blanket. And when the blanket left, the conditions were pretty much what they were in October.”
The only problems that some courses had is snow mould, both pink and grey variety. And some mice damage. Mice loved all the snow while the amount of snow that had to melt and the long cool and damp period of time that plants were under snow were conditions ripe for mould.
“Everyone wondered about snow mould, but I think most people were surprised how little there was,” said Asher.
“I think with all the water we had and the snow cover it would be hard not to be in good shape,” said Joshua Davison, head pro at RedTail Landing. “I know that we are mint.”
Neil Pearcy gets the honour of ? ? the first hole-in-one of 2011 in Edmonton. Pearcy did it on No. 16 at Belvedere when he holed out from 136 yards with a seven-iron from the blue tees. Because the hole is “bowled” and the flag is usually “blind,” Pearcy never saw the ball go in.
Former world No. 1 amateur Nick ? ? Taylor has been granted six sponsor exemptions to play in Canadian Tour events this summer. Taylor, the 2007 Canadian Amateur champion will begin his Canadian Tour schedule with the June 2-5 Times Colonist Open. Taylor, of Abbotsford, B.C., will also tee it up in the inaugural Syncrude Boreal Open at Fort McMurray Country Club June 23-26 and the Calgary ATB Financial Classic at Bearspaw Golf Club. Prior to those events, he will tee it up in the PGA Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial May 19-22. Taylor was exempted into that event after winning the 2010 Ben Hogan award, which is given to the NCAA male collegiate golfer of the year.
– Edmonton’s Barrett Jarosch, who lost his full Nationwide status, will also play in the Times Colonist Open. Jarosch, who made a complete swing change over the winter while working with Windermere teaching professional Cam Martens, will also continue to try to qualify for Nationwide events. But, as he said, “It’s harder to get in to a Nationwide event qualifying than it is to make the cut.” Unfortunately, there is no Canadian Tour event in Edmonton this year.
– Saskatchewan’s Graham DeLaet, who had back surgery, is getting closer to his return to the PGA. “I can’t fully rotate to the left side but it’s closer,” said DeLaet, who also worked with Jarosch over the winter.