Here is one of the two golf clubs open at the start of the season: “It’s still early,” says one of the owners

On the other end of the phone, Stéphane Guay enjoys talking about the “slightly” early opening of his golf club in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, the International 2000, on the second day of March. For the co-owner, this is not such an exceptional situation.

“March 2 is perhaps a little earlier than our habit of opening around mid-March,” he indicates with humor. Its course has been open since this date while another in Estrie, owned by the Lisé-Coderre family, the Granby St-Paul golf club, also welcomes fans of the little white ball.

“Everyone seems to be upset, because we are opening our courses, but I am not at all shocked,” adds Mr. Guay who will welcome more than 350 golfers to his 27-hole complex on Saturday.

The 2024 season starts earlier this year as the International 2000 golf club began welcoming golfers on March 2. COURTESY INTERNATIONAL 2000

Photo courtesy, International 2000

Founded in 1995 and benefiting from a geographical location near the American border, where the temperature is milder, the golf club has built its reputation for opening first over the years. So much so that in 2006, the club never really closed its doors.

“We welcomed golfers all 12 months of the year. We didn’t get much snow, so we stayed open until December 26 or 27, he says, going back into his memories. When the snow fell, it melted and we reopened our departure sheets. That was exceptional.

“This opening of the 2024 season at the beginning of March is not so exceptional in nearly 30 years of history,” he adds, specifying that he had opened his field in February during the winter 2016. I believe, however, that this year is still early.”

Scarlet red lines

In the Lacolle clubhouse, the lines have not moved since mid-February. This week, an employee told the representative of the Newspaper that it was “completely crazy”.

Insistent customers eager to hit the ball still expressed their comments while the club was “delayed” in opening despite the milder weather in southern Quebec. The calls came from all over Quebec, from Saguenay to Beauce, including the capital. Customers even called several times a day to find out if the club management had changed its mind.

International golf 2000

The 2024 season starts earlier this year as the International 2000 golf club began welcoming golfers on March 2. COURTESY INTERNATIONAL 2000

Photo courtesy, International 2000

In fact, the club was only waiting for the right weather window to launch 2024 activities. By the third week of February, the team had agreed on the long-awaited big moment to satisfy fans of the little white ball.

“We assessed the soil, frost and longer-term weather forecasts. Because we didn’t have snow to blow, we could open earlier than March 2, but areas of a few more shaded greens posed a problem. So we waited a little,” explains Mr. Guay.

Identical skewer

There was no question for the Guay family of delaying the first tee shot any further. The Guays estimate that the green fees from this massive influx of golfers in March and very early at the start of the season cover nearly 20% of their annual budget.

“It is not negligible. It’s our livelihood. Opening earlier gives us a good helping hand to get through the season. And with the weather conditions during the summer, you never know, says the man who is co-owner with his brother Hugo.

“Business is about standing out from others,” he adds. We are lucky, because Mother Nature gives us a good helping hand.”

International golf 2000

Photo courtesy, International 2000

Regardless, the law of supply and demand, management has not changed its price range, which has remained the same for three years despite the explosion in maintenance and labor costs.

“We could do it by doubling the prices and I know our land would be full, but I have no desire or interest in doing it. We have to be honest and offer the right prices for our loyal customers. It’s in our DNA.”

Few consequences

According to him, the consequences of opening fairways and greens in March are not as serious as some experts claim. The carts always remain stored to avoid heavy damage on water-soaked floors.

“Unlike in the fall when playing on frozen grass damages it, because the plant is alive and growing, the grass is still dormant at the end of winter. The damage is limited and he can quickly recover quickly afterwards. With the right soil, it’s incredible what this plant can do, says the man whose courses have been built on family land for generations.

“Our early openings very often brought us summer seasons during which we took advantage of the most beautiful course conditions,” he added.

If this trend continues with this opening on a splendid March 2, the three courses of the International 2000 will be magnificent in July.

Facilities open this weekend

Although two courses are open in Quebec, several training facilities at the clubs welcome golf enthusiasts. Here is an exhaustive list of openings for this weekend.

– International 2000 Golf Club (St-Bernard-de-Lacolle)

– Granby Saint-Paul Golf Club (Granby)

– Cerf Course Golf Club (Longueuil)

– The Portage (L’Assomption)

– Golf Les Rivières (Trois-Rivières)

– Acton Vale Golf Course (Acton Vale)

– Les Cèdres Golf Club (Granby)

– Vaudreuil Golf Club (Vaudreuil-Dorion)

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