Determined to take a swing at spring, Edmonton driving range opens in the snow

Meanwhile, soccer enthusiasts hope they can give winter the boot and start the outdoor season in May

Meanwhile, soccer enthusiasts hope they can give winter the boot and start the outdoor season in May

The Victoria Golf Course driving range is open in April despite snow and cold weather. 0:50

Mother Nature can be cruel. Like on Friday morning, when snow fell on the Victoria Golf Course driving range as it opened to give golfers place to whack away their frustrations at the endless winter.

Friday marked the 167th straight day of zero or below temperatures in Edmonton, stretching all the way back to Oct. 29.

"It's certainly been a cold stretch of winter here," said Dan Kulak, Environment Canada meteorologist.

The last time the coldest temperature of the day was at least zero was back in late October, he added.

Kulak couldn't say whether that is a record, as it is not a statistic that is tracked by Environment Canada.

Despite snow and cold temperatures, a handful of hardy golfers got a few swings in on opening day at the Victoria Golf Course driving range. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

"It's a bit surprising that April has been as cold as it has," Kulak said. "When you look at the winter season, January in Edmonton was actually a little bit warmer than normal. February was significantly cooler than normal."

"April is more like what we were expecting in February."

The Victoria Golf Course opened despite the snow on Friday, and people showed up — albeit sparingly.. The grass of the driving range was covered with golf balls and patches of snow.

"With this weather all winter, nothing surprises me," said Kevin Hogan, head golf pro at Victoria Golf Course. "We just said 'Let's go ahead, maybe we'll force spring to come early by doing this.'"

Soccer season awaits

April is usually when the city's soccer leagues are looking to start up their outdoor season, but this year many fields are still covered in snow.

Golf balls dot the grass in between patches of snow at the Victoria Golf Course driving range on Friday. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

The Edmonton District Soccer Association (EDSA), a league made of 450 adult teams, started at the beginning of April a few season ago. This year, they're planning to start on artificial turf on May 1 and then move to outdoor fields a few days later.

"It's been a challenge trying to figure out how we're going to start this outdoor season," said Mike Thome, executive director of the soccer association. "But we're moving ahead, having some faith in Mother Nature that things are going to turn around."

Before the league can start, it needs the approval of the City of Edmonton.

A city spokesperson says the ground can sometimes remain frozen or wet even after the disappearance of snow. Using a field that is saturated is unsafe and can damage the turf.

If you read this story through to the end with hopes of sunny days ahead, I'm sorry.

The Edmonton forecast calls for snow on Monday and Tuesday.

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca

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