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Golf courses set to tee off 2003 season

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A below average snowpack in the valley bottom this year, all but gone by mid-March, has worked in favour of our local Whistler golf courses as they prepare for the upcoming season.

All three courses are preparing for early openings this year, with Nicklaus North Golf Course and the Whistler Golf Club leading the way.

Nicklaus North will be opening on May 2, "a week to 10 days early," according to general manager Chris Hood.

"The conditions are just fantastic. We’re cutting everything, there’s no disease, it’s all green. The course came through the winter perfectly."

There are no changes to the layout of the course or the club this year. "We’re just focusing on maintenance, making the course conditions as perfect as possible to play, and we’re looking forward to a great season," says Hood.

Early season specials will be in effect from May 2 to May 16 for Golf B.C. cardholders. Green fees are $69 from Monday to Friday, and $79 on weekends from May 2 to May 16. Golf B.C. memberships are free and available at local pro shops.

The Whistler Golf Club will also open on May 2, a week earlier than expected.

"With spring arriving early to Whistler valley this year, golfers have been beating down our doors waiting to play," says Alan Kristmanson, director of golf for the club.

Operations have already started, with the club’s Learning and Performance Centre open as of April 5 – the earliest opening in club history. That includes the driving range, a putting green, a bunker, a short game area, and a wide range of lesson programs with the club pros.

From May 2 to May 29, green fees will be $79 daily, $49 for a second round, $39 for juniors, $59 for B.C. residents (requires seven days advance booking for weekdays and 24 hours for weekends), and $74.25 for a B.C. Foursome, with the fourth golfer playing free.

Early season golf packages are available, such as the Two golf or not Two Golf, which offers three nights accommodation, and two rounds of golf with a cart starting at $355 ($239 US) per person. This package is available from May 2 to 29. You can book online at www.mywhistler.com, or through Central Reservations at 1-800-WHISTER (1-800-944-7853).

The Chateau Whistler Golf Club, which has several holes at a higher elevation than the other local courses, is scheduled to open on May 8 this season with a special local’s day.

According to Rod Cochrane, director of golf, the day will be open to 100 locals with green fees of $39. "We wanted to showcase some of the other programs we will be offering to members of the community, and a fundraiser that we have later that month for the Fairmont Foundation," he says.

This will be a special year for the Chateau Whistler Golf Club, which is planning to open a $2.2 million practice and learning centre on July 1. The centre will also host a full-time David Leadbetter Golf Academy, the only one of the 27 Leadbetter academy’s in North America that’s west of the Mississippi

If you’re not familiar with the name, David Leadbetter is one of the most respected golf instructors in the world, and the academy teaches his theories and methods to golfers of all levels and abilities.

As for the conditions, Cochrane says the Chateau course is looking great. "Last year was my first year, and it was the best we’ve ever seen it in spring. I was talking to the green’s keeper, and he said that this year it’s looking even better than last year. It made it through the winter perfectly."

Spring rates will be in effect until May 29, ranging from $59 to $135 depending on the day, time and other criteria. Juniors, who must play with an adult, pay $25 at any time of the year, with the exception of dinner specials.

There are also special rates for B.C. residents (seven days advance booking) and locals from Pemberton, Whistler and Squamish (two days advance booking).

This year the Chateau will also introduce its first ever annual pass, "to give locals an opportunity to play the course for greatly reduced prices," Cochrane says.

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