B.C. Interior golf courses delay openings due to unusual winter

As much of B.C. recovers from an unusually cold and snowy winter, some golf courses in the Interior are being forced to delay the start of their seasons.

Golf in British Columbia — a tourism website dedicated to booking B.C. golf vacations — notes that "almost everybody is behind."

"According to the owner here, this is the worst winter they've seen in the 17 or 18 years we've been here," said Dan Martin, the CPGA head professional at Skaha Meadows Golf Course in Penticton.

"A lot of our passholders who have been in the area for 30 or 40 years, they say this is the worst winter they can remember."

The Penticton course opened for the 2017 season in late January, but was forced to close for two weeks in February due to snowfall.

"We've had four or five false starts this year. So we'd open for two or three days and then it would snow and we'd be closed for a couple days," said Martin.

Martin is cautiously optimistic that the course will now remain open for the year.

Late Osoyoos opening

Meanwhile, the Osoyoos Golf Club opened on March 4, about three weeks behind its typical mid-February opening.

"Definitely, it's a slow start," said Lee Sapach, the general manager.

"It's not the latest that we've ever opened, but it's definitely in the top three or four years. It's tough when you're used to opening on a certain date."

Sapach said hundreds turned out for the course's opening day, but only two days later, the course had to close due to weather.

Despite the rocky start, B.C. Interior golf courses are getting back on track. Two Eagles in West Kelowna is now open along with Sun Rivers and Eagle Point in Kamloops. The Harvest and Gallagher's Canyon in Kelowna both open this week. 

Ambitious athletes who want to golf in the morning and ski in the afternoon have a few weeks left to do so, with most Interior ski hills staying open until mid-April. 

"A lot of people will actually say this is their favourite time for skiing," said Christopher Nicolson, president and CEO of the Canada West Ski Areas Association.

"Once you get to March 1, it's more social, there's more time spent on sunny patios, there's sunscreen in the air. It's just got a very different vibe."

Big White Ski Resort and Sun Peaks Resort will both close for the season on April 17. Apex Mountain Resort will close on April 2.