Birchbank staff (from left) Jeff Papilion, Dallas Calvin, Destiny Lattanville, Blair Debnam and Jackie Alland are ready for another golf season. The Birchbank Golf Course wintered well and is open for play as recent sun and rain melted off the persistent snow. Golfers can book Tee-times online or by calling the pro shop. Jim Bailey photo.

Golf season tees off at Birchbank Golf Course

Greater Trail golfers can swing away as the Birchbank Golf Course opened for play on Thursday

It’s tee-off time for Greater Trail golfers as the Birchbank Golf Course is open and ready for play.

The course opened its driving range last weekend, but with persistent snow still covering parts of fairways, the full-course opening looked bleak for this week. However, Mother Nature cooperated and recent rain and sunshine combined to speed up the process.

“I was originally thinking the 15th or 16th (of April), last year was the sixth and seventh, so we actually opened a few days earlier,” said Birchbank Head Pro and Director of Golf, Jeff Papilion. “It (the snow) went really fast, which is nice.”

All 18 tee-off boxes, fairways and greens are playable, and the course in good condition considering the long winter.

“For this time of year, and opening up this early, the course is really good,” said Papilion. “The driving range is open, pro shop is open with lots of great sales on last year’s stuff.”

The Castlegar Golf Club is still about a week away from teeing off, but Head Golf Pro Pat Biln is eager to get the season started.

“Our greens wintered amazing this year,” said Biln. “We were a little worried with the weather and ice but our superintendent treated them throughout the winter and they are fantastic. It’s always good to open up the golf course in great shape.”

In an inspiring move, the Head Pro also opened the driving range about a month ago.

“I ploughed off our range, and just let people hit balls into the snow,” said Biln. “It was awesome. It was a little bit bright, but nice to be ahead of Birchbank, because they always beat us.

“Unfortunately, we could only hit balls until we had no more golf balls to hit.”

Golfers came from as far away as Balfour to get in some early swings, and a portion of the money from the winter buckets went to the club’s Junior golf program.

“It worked out fantastic to be honest.”

Christina Lakes is set to open this weekend, as well, but with snow and frost still a factor at higher elevation courses, Champion Lakes and Redstone Golf Course are looking at an April 20 opening.

At Birchbank, seasonal shoulder rates apply, with a round of 18 just $49. Golfers can book online at birchbankgolf.com or by calling the pro shop at 250-693-2255.

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