Golf season dawned cool and overcast April 27, much like my chipping.
In what appears to be becoming a tradition, I was once again able to get out with the first group of the season for the third year running.
The first group off at 8 a.m. was me, Bruce Graff, Charlie Northrup and Cyril XXX. Yes, all men, on what was heralded as the first time ever opening day was scheduled for Ladies Night.
But, then again, that is typically how Ladies Night goes, with the women starting out in the afternoon and the morning tee times fair game for whoever wants to book.
After an abysmal summer last year, during which Smithers set records for both rainfall and cool temperatures — the course never really dried out — 2021 is off to a very promising start.
On Tuesday, there were only a few soggy patches (parts of the sixth and 15th fairways and in front of number 4 green fro example), but all in all, the course is drying out and greening up nicely.
And speaking of green, the greens, with a few exceptions (numbers 6, 7, 8 and 10) are in excellent conditions. Even number 9, which never really recovered from the previous winter last season until September, is mostly puttable at the moment.
Of course, when I say excellent, that is a relative assessment, but they are in great shape for April, to be sure. Certainly 100 per cent better than they were on opening day last year following brutally unfavourable conditions the previous winter.
On Tuesday, they were still a bit shaggy, but rolling and cutting continues and barring some kind of deluge, I expect we are in for a good season greens-wise.
The new sprinkler system is more or less in the ground. On 15, the trench has already healed over fairly well. On 14 and 12, it is still raw, but a local rule allows for the moving of golf balls that land on it.
There are a few interesting developments on the course.
Over the winter, the stand of trees along the left side of the 10th fairway was removed allowing a clear shot for those who want to brave going over the ravine for a short approach shot.
Greenskeeper Murray Grasdal is also in the process of expanding the ninth green.
Long the bane of mid-to-high handicappers — I was personally only on that green a handful of times last year despite landing on it regularly — number 9 will be widened toward the 10th tee box and lengthened to the back along the left-hand bunker. This will allow for more options for tee shots while still maintaining the opportunity for tough tournament pin placements.
Consequently, work will also commence on moving the back number 10 tees toward the clubhouse. The fence there will be moved back to accommodate that work.
Finally, a new forward tee box is going in on number 17 by the cart path right at the dog leg making it a straightaway hole for those using the forward tee.
I should also express some appreciation for all the people who took advantage of the paths being cleared during the winter. It appears dog walkers respected the club and picked up after their animals. I only saw one pile of doggy doo all morning.
Kudos to them.
All in all, it’s shaping up to be a great season at Smithers Golf and Country Club.