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Greater Victoria golfers take advantage of warm winter

Mild temperature in Victoria this winter means golf courses are seeing more green than usual
Golfing at Cedar Hill
Golfer Mike Fletcher reacts to a missed putt as his friend Alastair Evans looks on during their weekly game at Cedar Hill Golf Course. The pair was out for an afternoon round while temperatures in Victoria hovered around zero.

Despite dipping temperatures last week, it’s business as usual on the links of Victoria.

“Business is up a little bit (this winter). The only thing we can point to is weather,” said Jim Goddard, director of golf at Cordova Bay Golf Course. “It is overall drier, but what comes with sun is cold and wind and frost.”

At the municipally run Cedar Hill Golf Course, they nearly tripled usage last month, with 1,409 rounds of golf played compared to 494 in January 2013.

“It’s weather,” said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard. “Green fees have gone from about $6,000 to $16,000 just for that month. … We didn’t hear anything significant about our other rec centres, that’s the one outdoor recreation we track usage.”

As February ushered in winter, frozen greens did close a couple courses some days last week, but, for the most part, golfers are still in full force.

“We have guys that play in shorts every day of the year here,” said Goddard. “The bad weather doesn’t dissuade the hard-core golfer. … They’d as soon miss their wedding as a golf game.”

Promotions to keep the Cordova Bay course full include a winter league, with competitions on a daily basis.

“Winter’s still winter. We do a lot of winter marketing with loyalty programs that keep our place steady anyway,” Goddard said. “No matter what we do there’s always some closures in the winter: half days, rainy days.”

Rainfall in January was below the norm of 132.8 mm, with just 114.6 mm in Greater Victoria last month, according to an Environment Canada fact sheet. Sunshine, however, was also down: 65.9 hours in January compared to the average of 68.3 hours.

No measurable snow fell in January, well below the average of 10.9 cm. But January snowfalls can, historically, vary drastically – from no snow to 81.4 cm, based on data from Victoria International Airport.

“It’s been fairly mild,” said Scott Kolb, general manager at Victoria Golf Club. “It hasn’t been stormy and wet. …  We’ve only had one (storm) every couple weeks.”

He figures attendance at the golf course was up 20 per cent among members playing this January compared to an average January.

“Our members that would normally play once or twice a month are coming out more,” Kolb said. “I’m seeing more bodies, instead of them appearing like groundhogs in March.”