Smithers Golf and Country Club pro Chris Herkel warms up for last weekend’s opening day at the course.

Smithers Golf and Country Club pro Chris Herkel warms up for last weekend’s opening day at the course.

Golf Club swings into spring

  • Apr. 26, 2011 11:00 a.m.

Golfers rejoice, for winter is not here, spring is risen; and although the magical day was later than last year’s record early opening, the Smithers Golf and Country Club is officially open for business.

Good Friday was the day to hit the links, as a huge crowd waited for the frost to melt off the greens. Club Pro Chris Herkel said this year should prove to be a great golf season. The greens are in excellent shape, and should all be at 100 per cent in the next couple weeks. Other northern B.C. courses still have two feet of snow in places, he said.

“Everyone looks back at last year, but you can’t compare,” he said.

2010’s record early opening was also followed by a very hot summer, and a predicted cooler summer means more golf, as many tend to stay home when the weather gets too hot, he said.

Herkel has worked at courses all across the west, from Fort MacMurray to Victoria, and said he wouldn’t be anywhere other than Smithers.

“For me it’s the people. I love teaching, and I’ve met some really interesting people over the years,” he said.

The course is ready for another season of play, including Ladies Nights on Tuesdays and Men’s Nights on Thursdays, starting May 3 and 5. Wednesdays feature the 120-strong Junior program, which Herkel said is one of the highlights for him.

“I’ve been a part of the Junior programs all my life,” he said. “We have the largest junior program north of Vancouver.”

Part of the attraction for younger golfers (and their parents) is the price – $250 gets a junior golfer a membership for the season. That amount can add up to a large number of hours on the course for an ambitious young golfer.

“They can play almost every day, and the more you play, the better you’ll get,” said Herkel.

The club’s 2011 Event Calendar is packed with events and tournaments as well. Starting in mid-May and running until the end of September, almost every weekend features an event.

The Spring Texas 4 Man Scramble is the first open tournament of the year, following a couple club events early next month. On May 21 and 22, a total of 40 teams from all across the north will converge on Smithers to take part in the tournament. A week later is the Kilpatrick Tournament, named after a long-time club secretary.

June will see the President’s Cup, followed by the Rotary Celebrity Tournament, one of the most popular events held at the Club over the past two decades.

In July, the Senior Men’s takes place, followed by the Mr. & Mrs. Tournament, and the Bob Davidson Memorial Cup, named after the family that donated the land for the club when it was first built in 1931.

August features the Ladies Northern Open, and Labour Day Weekend the Club hosts the Men’s Northern Open, arguably the biggest tournament in northern B.C.

“There’s guys that have been coming back playing in this for 30 years, 40 years even,” said Herkel.

To kick off the season, day prices have been cut to $25 for 18 holes, or $20 for 9. Those prices will rise to $42 and $30 early in May. A membership costs $930, and last year there were about 350 members. For a full list of events, stop by the club.