'Pure joy' for P.E.I. golfers, courses as season starts off strong
'It will be one of the best seasons — if not, the best season we've ever had'
Golf season is in full swing on P.E.I. with most of the province's courses open for business.
Belvedere Golf Club in Charlottetown hosted more than 300 members when it opened for the season last Friday, and was fully booked again Monday.
General manager Jeff Affleck says he is excited for the season, and estimates the club will have around 700 members given the pent-up demand from eased COVID-19 restrictions and the influx of tourists coming to the Island.
"Pure joy to be open for everybody, staff and members," he said. "Our course is in wonderful shape, so we just hope to see as many people out every day."
Golf and tourism as a package deal
Golf P.E.I. executive director Sam MacPhail said the courses have all weathered the winter well, and expects great conditions as the Island warms up.
The organization said it is seeing high interest from off-Island tourists, with some already booking into next year.
It has partnered with more than 30 accommodations across the Island with the intention of growing both the sport and tourism industry together as a package. The dollar value of bookings from opening weekend are hitting record highs, he said — even compared to pre-COVID years.
"With our numbers we already have, we're confident that it will be one of the best seasons — if not, the best season we've ever had," he said.
Courses 'keeping it relatively affordable'
Inflation has affected Islanders from everything to groceries to gas, and the golf course is no exception.
Belvedere Golf Club had to make small adjustments to its budgets, including an increase in its membership and green prices. MacPhail said it may be more expensive for people to golf considering the money that goes into producing a quality course, whether it's fuel, wages or securing vendors and suppliers.
"Cost of everything is going up, so it's hard to not put up prices," said MacPhail. "But I think golf courses are doing a good job at keeping it relatively affordable when you're comparing it to the rest of Atlantic Canada and the rest of Canada."
But the increase in price has not stopped Amy Parsons from taking her clubs to the course with her two children, who start another season at the golf academy this summer.
"We enjoy the outdoors, and with all the restrictions and stuff in place it's nice that we can feel safe out here and spend hours outside together," she said.
After picking golf back up during the pandemic, Parsons is hoping to get out at least twice a week this season.
With files from Brian Higgins