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Spring and a hit: Driving ranges, golf courses set to open early

“Everybody was getting the itch to get out and do something outside after pretty much being stuck in their house all winter."
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Brothers Kobi (9) and Bennett (4) Jackson are taking advantage of the mild spring weather while it lasts at Lone Spruce Driving Range on March 27, 2021.

Jordan Jackson is hoping to place more rounds this year with his two sons.

“Everybody was getting the itch to get out and do something outside after pretty much being stuck in their house all winter. I mean, (Lone Spruce Driving Range) was packed for the first couple few weeks until it was open. It was crazy,” he said as his sons teed up at the driving range on March 27.

Last year, golf courses experienced record numbers of players in St. Albert and the surrounding areas, and this year is winding up to be much the same.

Dave Laframboise, co-owner of Lone Spruce, said they are always busy the first month they open up because other golf courses generally aren’t open yet.

Laframboise said they had an extremely busy year last year and he is expecting much the same for this year because, after another round of restrictions, seasoned and new golfers alike are amped to get out.

“Every season is dependent on the weather, but with COVID-19, assuming we get some decent weather, I'm expecting a busy season,” he said.

Golfers were not allowed on the green until May 2 last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. This year, Laframboise said he was able to open the driving range on March 13 due to mild weather and lack of snow.

“We tried to remove the snow with some equipment earlier. It lets us get open that much earlier, and, you know, lets customers get out a little sooner than the golf courses,” he said.

Kevin Easthope, general manager at Sandpiper golf course in Sturgeon County, said their driving range is opening Wednesday. Although they haven’t made any formal announcements yet, there is a chance the golf course could be open on Thursday. The typical opening date for the golf course is generally around April 15.

Easthope said people were out playing in all sorts of weather last year, right up until they closed, just to have something to do, as golf was one of the only activities people could partake in. He is also expecting another busy year.

“I think it's going to be very busy again, (it) doesn't seem like there's a lot of stuff opening up yet. So, I think it's going to be very similar to last year,” he said.

This year was also unique in that nobody could go away to golf during the winter months.

“Nobody could really go away this year – a lot of people go away to play golf in the winter, and obviously we couldn't do that this year. I think people are going to be even more anxious to get out on the golf course,” he said.

So far, there haven’t been any new announcements with regard to COVID restrictions on the golf course, and Easthope thinks they are more prepared this year. He said they are going to start operating the same way they did last year.

“We actually know what we're doing this year. With protocols last year (that) seemed to change every day, there was something new that we had to do and so it was just forever changing last year. I think this year, we pretty much know what to expect and the customers know what to expect. (It) should be much easier,” he said.

As for what Easthope expects when they officially announce they are opening?

“When we make the announcement that we're opening ... we will be booking up very quickly,” he said.

About the Author: Jessica Nelson Local Journalism Initiative

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