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Warm weather extends golf season at two City of Calgary courses

It’s unprecedented for the City of Calgary to re-open city-owned golf courses after the winter shutdown, but the head of golf course operations said they’re open to trying new things.

Even if it is mid-November.

With temperatures hitting five degrees on Thursday before heating up to 10 Celsius for Friday and Saturday, the City is testing a re-opening of both the Maple Ridge and Shaganappi Point golf courses – at least until Nov. 19. Lows aren’t expected to get much past zero in that time either.

“The response from the public has been overwhelming, smiles on their faces, thanking us for opening their golf courses, thanking us for doing this,” said John Faber, lead, golf course operations with the City of Calgary.

“Golfing in Calgary in November. It’s unheard of. So we’re really excited about this opportunity.”

Maple Ridge will implement an 18-hole crossover format (tee offs on hole 1 and hole 10) priced at $25, while Shaganappi will adopt two distinct nine-hole options available for $15. The green fees of $25 and $15 are primarily targeted at cost recovery. The crossover tee sheet is something the city hadn’t tried before, but is done regularly in the private sector, Faber said.

The city encountered some challenges in re-opening the golf courses that were originally shut down Oct. 22. For one, a shortage of staff arose due to the layoff of all seasonal workers. Faber said those who were available stepped up to re-open.

“Our team is really excited. When we presented the challenge to them, ‘Hey, can we open again,’ they all jumped in and said, ‘yeah, let’s give this a try,'” he said.

“We’ve got some really good momentum, not only with our customers, but our staff on trying new things.”

The regular greens have been put to bed for the winter, so golfers will have to accept temporary greens. Faber said the grass has already gone dormant for tee boxes and fairways, so there’s no worry over turf damage. Still, it might be tough to stick your tees into the ground, he said.

Adding to an already successful Calgary golf season

Faber said that they had more than 320,000 people tee off at the seven Calgary-operated golf courses this season. It was a record year.

They are more than happy to add a few more names to the tee sheet with the mild November temperatures.

“To golf in mid-November is fantastic. Normally we get our last round in around Thanksgiving and for the City of Calgary to open in mid-November I think is great,” said Calgary golfer Kyle McNichol.

“I am super happy to book a tee time and play nine holes.”

Faber said this experiment may lead to other openings if Calgary’s Chinook-driven winter weather opens a window of opportunity through December. He’s also still cautious about potential changes in Calgary’s weather between Wednesday and Sunday.

“The forecast looks good. But yeah, we got to definitely set… the caveat that if the weather goes south, we’re not going to be open,” he said.

“It looks like winter is going to rear its ugly head, maybe starting Sunday. But it’s Alberta. The weather patterns here change daily. So if the opportunity arises, maybe in December we can get double digits. We’ll keep an eye on that forecast and stay tuned.”

Golfers wanting more information can visit calgary.ca/golf.