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Warmer temps forecast as Banff, Canmore golf courses set to open

Local golf courses are set to open in late April, early May
Julian Kati from Lake Louise keeps his eye on the prize as he smacks a golf ball at the Canmore Golf and Curling Club driving range on Tuesday (April 23). JUNGMIN HAM RMO PHOTO

BOW VALLEY – As golfers dust off clubs for a new year in Alberta, outdoor enthusiasts can expect warmer than normal temperatures with the high possibility of heavy smoke flooding into the region from an active wildfire season – again.

This week and in the coming weeks, local golf courses are swinging back into action for the 2024 season. The tentative opening dates for golf courses in Banff, Canmore, Kananaskis Country, and MD of Bighorn start on April 26 when Brewster’s Kananaskis Ranch Golf Course welcomes golfers, marking the fifth consecutive season the Exshaw course is first out of the gates.

On May 3, Tunnel Mountain 9 at Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course and Canmore Golf and Curling Club (the driving range is already open) welcome the public to its fairways.

Kananaskis Country Golf Course and Silvertip Resort are set to open May 9, Stewart Creek Golf & Country Club is opening May 9 and Stanley Thompson 18 at Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course on May 10.

It’s difficult not to expect at least one more snowfall in the Rockies, but one thing golfers can look forward to this spring and summer is cozy weather.

“What we’re looking at for temperatures in April, May, June is, so far, generally speaking, warmer weather than normal,” said Alysa Pederson, warning preparedness meteorologist for Alberta. “We are looking at a warmer than normal start to summer.”

However, warmer temperatures doesn’t necessarily mean drier than normal conditions. Pederson added that it’s challenging to have faith in the precipitation forecast, but in previous years when Western Canada was hit with a milder El Niño winter, it’s usually been followed by Alberta getting normal to above normal precipitation through to the end of June.

“Right now, there’s a decent chance … but the confidence on that isn’t very high,” said Pederson.

Following 2023’s devastating wildfire season, some big questions coming into this year are how bad it’s going to be, will flames creep into the Bow Valley area, and will the onslaught of wildfire smoke be a health hazard affecting outdoor activities.

Darren Cooke, general manager at the Canmore Golf and Curling Club, said he’s been in Canmore for 36 years and he’s noticed the increase in wildfires and subsequent smoke in recent years.

With an older membership at the nearly 100-year-old club, it affects staff and business when people choose the comfort of indoors during smoky periods.

“We’re just hoping that things change and we don’t see the fires that we have in the past,” said Cooke. “I think it affects everybody and, of course, the golfers being a lot of times a little bit older, for sure, some of them will ride a cart possibly instead of walking. Our membership really likes to walk and bike to the golf course and that type of stuff.”

Last summer in the Bow Valley, the Air Quality Health Index topped out at the highest rating of 10+, or the worst one, on a handful of days. It had much to do with Canada experiencing its worst wildfire season on record.

As of Wednesday (April 24), there are 60 active wildfires in Alberta, which are all north of Red Deer, and 119 in British Columbia.

Because of last year and the worrying start to 2024, Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault said extreme weather events are becoming far too familiar as the impacts of climate change hit communities during the government of Canada’s seasonal outlook and wildfire projections.

“After the staggering wildfire season of 2023, we are once again facing the potential for another active wildfire season this year,” Guilbeault said in an April 10 media release.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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