The number of annual passes purchased to play at the Cedar Hill Golf Course is down by 15 per cent this year compared to last – but Saanich's director of parks and recreation said it's still early in the season to be concerned.
So far, 232 people have bought passes since they went on sale March 20, compared to the 273 purchased by this time last year.
"A lot of the time it's weather dependent," said parks and rec director Doug Henderson. "We've had past sales well into the first parts of May, so it's not like (sales are) finished."
In 2011, a total of 338 passes were sold (162 full passes and 176 restricted passes) – a new low for the golf course. Pass-holder numbers have been in a steady decline for years, with more than 700 passes being sold annually a decade ago.
What has gone up over the years, however, is the cost of buying a pass. Since 2008, the cost of a full pass has gone up $418 to $1,418, while the cost of a restricted pass has risen $262 to $1,087. Limits have been placed on the number of rounds the pass-holders can play each year.
Val Mieras, president of the Cedar Hill Golf Club, said because of the changes at the golf course this year the club has changed one of its longest-standing rules.
"We have it in our club constitution that active members must buy a pass – we've changed that, we had to," Mieras said. "Because the passes went up by so much and down by so many rounds, we have to let members make their own decision whether they're better off buying green fees instead."
This year, a full pass costs $68 more than last year. Golfers can play a maximum of 90 rounds, compared to 120 rounds in 2011.
Earlier this year Saanich council voted on a new fee structure that will see the cost of a pass increase again in 2013 and 2014, while the numbers of rounds are reduced each year.
"People have their reasons as to why they would buy and why they wouldn't buy (a pass)," Henderson said. "All we can do is make sure they know we're out there, and make sure they understand the value they get (at Cedar Hill)."
– with files from Roszan Holmen