Most years, one might be shocked by the amount of vehicles packing the Skeena Valley Golf and Country Club parking lot on the first Tuesday in April – but not this bright, sunny spring. In fact, a packed parking lot has been the norm at the golf course for weeks as golfers began teeing off nearly a month earlier than last year.
It’s actually the earliest the course has been open in the last 15-20 years, said the club’s head professional Germain Francoeur,
“We opened March 9, that was our official opening day,” he said. “Last year was a good start – and that was April 7 – my first year was the 16th.”
He is busy facilitating the buzz and getting the club ready for the summer season. Staffing at the course is lean for now – meaning not many crew members on the grounds or in the pro-shop, but people in the kitchen to serve lunch and dinner to the crowds coming out to the course.
It’s been a great start to the year, he said.
The amount of new people signing up as members (many in the late-20’s category, new to the club last year) and the return of some past members who took a year or two off, has him feeling optimistic. But of course it’s all dependent on the weather, so he’s not making any predictions.
“It’s way too early to tell,” he said. “Even with our members, some of them are still in Phoenix spending the winter and don’t get back until the middle, end of April.”
But if the bulk of memberships return, with the amount of activity he’s seen over the last month, he says they club will probably see an increase.
As for the season, expect the old standbys to still be there – mens and ladies nights on Wednesday and Thursday’s repectively, and the four main tournaments.
But they’re looking to shake up those offerings and tweak them to make them more exciting.
For example, “mens night we’re going to do a putt for dough,” he said. “In the clubhouse we’re going to randomly select participants to make a 20-foot putt on the carpet to win all of the money.”
And the junior program, which has been gaining in popularity over the years, will be back in full swing mid-May.
“It’s open to all,” he said. “We keep the fees low so that we can get as many kids out.”
In fact, it’s the idea that the club is “open to all” that Francoeur is stressing this year. Many people believe that you need to be a member of the club in order to enjoy it’s facilities – including what is undoubtably one of the best patios, with one of the best views in the Terrace area – but that is a stigma Francoeur is trying to shed.
“It’s open to the public,” he said, adding you don’t even need to golf to visit the restaurant.
“We welcome the public, essentially without the public we probably wouldn’t have a golf course,” he said, noting the club is a non-profit.