Lethbridge golfers get ready to hit the green

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WATCH ABOVE: Some golf courses in the Lethbridge area were ready to tee off this weekend. Others are taking a little extra time but promise an early start to the golf season. Jessica Robb has more on what golfers can expect on the course – Mar 8, 2021

Two Lethbridge golf courses spent the weekend getting ready to start the season early.

Paradise Canyon Golf Course has a “floating” opening day, but is hoping to start its season on March 26.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Jae Maegaard, head golf professional at the course.

The warm weather has allowed Paradise Canyon Golf Course to open its driving range a bit earlier than usual.

Golfers could be found there over the weekend warming up and defrosting after a long winter during a demo day.

Cameron Waldbauer, the head professional at Henderson Lake Golf Club, said that golf course is hoping to open on March 12.

Read more: 2020 golf season sees major resurgence for the sport in southern Alberta

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“Everyone is just excited,” he said.

“It’s been a very, very long winter for a lot of people in their houses — can’t travel, can’t see family members, just can’t do some of the things they love doing.”

Over the weekend, the grounds crew was out getting the course ready for action.

“2020 was great for the golf industry,” Waldbauer said. “There was a big spike and we’re anticipating much of the same in 2021.”

Paired with a cold winter, it’s a recipe for a busy season.

“The last three months, including myself, you’re just kind of waiting and waiting,” Maegaard said. “Then all of a sudden, a glimpse of good weather comes and everybody is excited to get out of the house.”

Read more: Lethbridge golf courses scramble to open, meet public demand

Mel Collier has been golfing for 35 years. He was out at Paradise Canyon Golf Club on March 6 and was taking part in the course’s demo day.

“It’s time to go.”

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But it’s not just longtime golfers who are excited.

Last year, Maegaard said there weren’t just a lot of new, individual first-time golfers, but entire families were coming out to hit the course for their first time.

“It wasn’t just the kids,” he said. “It brought the moms and dads down as well.”

This year, he’s expecting the same.

Maegaard is also encouraging golfers to get their orders in soon. With COVID-19 restrictions in the United States and the heightened interest in golf, it’s caused a backlog with some vendors.

“We’re trying to get out in front of it and promote to our community and our members to get properly club fit now and get the order in,” he said. “Hopefully by the time we get open, they’ll have a fresh set of sticks to hit.”

Read more: The Drive to 300 Yards: Getting the right ‘fit’ from your golf clubs

Waldbauer said he believes golf is a perfect activity to do safely outside.

“Staying outside, staying apart from each other,” he said. “And when it’s your time to play, head off to the tee box and have fun.”

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Getting back to the sport is something that Collier, and surely many others, can’t wait for.

“We’re all ready to go,” he said. “Whenever they get the place open, we’ll be standing there ready to go.”

Both golf clubs said that COVID-19 guidelines and protocols will be similar to last year: spread out tee times, carts sanitized after each use, range balls sanitized after each wash, limited capacity in the pro shop and golfers being evenly spaced out for social distancing on the driving range are some of the things golfers can expect. Both courses are also encouraging people to book online.

Henderson Lake Golf Club confirmed that its clubhouse and restaurant will be closed.

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