New focus growing the Skeena Valley Golf & Country Club

Club manager says a less competitive atmosphere is driving up participation on the green at the club in Terrace, B.C.

Gross winners Shane deJong and Germain Francoeur hoist their trophy after the men’s tournament July 1-3.

A less competitive atmosphere is driving up participation in golf programs and tournaments at the Skeena Valley Golf & Country Club, says the club manager.

Germain Francoeur said they changed the men’s tournament to have two-man teams instead of individuals, in order to ease pressure and draw more people into the event, which has been slowly declining over the last few years.

“We tried to make it a little more relaxed atmosphere… if you play an individual event, it’s just you. If you miss, you have to recover and you have to hit the next shot. In the team event it is more relaxed because you have a team mate you can rely on,” Francoeur said.

The change seemed like a success, with 82 golfers this year compared to 74 last year at the  Two Man Devils Scramble on the Canada Day long weekend.

Day one was a round of “best ball,” where they record only the best score from the two-man team. Day two was “modified alternate shot,” where both players tee off, they pick the best shot and then take turns hitting or putting until one of them sinks the putt. Day three was “two man scramble,” where both players drive, they pick the best shot and both hit from there, and repeat that until they sink the ball.

Despite spits of rain, Francoeur said the event was quite successful.

“We had more people who were not your hardcore golfers, we had some non-members… we were getting new faces, which was nice to see,” he said, adding that they did lose a few of the more competitive golfers who were not interested in the two-man tournament.

The gross winners were Shane deJong and Germain Francoeur, with a score of 203, with 16 under par for three days. The net winners were Eli Vanderheide and Shiloh Vanderheide with a team score of 178, with 41 under par.

Francoeur says that the recreational focus also attracted more players to the Ladies Open tournament last weekend, which had over 66 women compared to the prior average of 40-50.

“That’s the most we have had since I have been here, and a lot of those are beginners,” Francoeur said. “They are trying to make it more relaxed as well.”

The regular programs are also making that shift, providing sections for players who do not want the pressure of playing with strong, competitive golfers.

There is an average of 50-60 mens and 40-50 ladies during their regular weekly programs, and Mondays tend to draw a good crowd due to the discount price.

“The last three years we have been busier,” Francoeur said.

But weather is still the biggest driver impacting the numbers of people hitting the green.

“Golf is almost 100 per cent reliant on the weather. You have your avid golfer who will play rain or shine… but the average golfer plays once every few weeks or once a month. They are not going to want to come out when it is raining,” Francoeur said.

“This year the weather hasn’t been great, but it hasn’t been that bad either. So far the golf season has been going according to what we budgeted.”

The club opened two weeks early this year on March 19, which proved to be a good move under sunny skies, but activity on the green has slowed due to the clouds and rain in the last few weeks.

They are hoping for more sunny weather in the coming summer months, and will run a Senior Open tournament on August 6-7 and Mr & Mrs tournament on August 27-28.