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'Golf is becoming cool again': Winnipeg seeing increased participation on golf courses

Golf

The popularity of golf in Winnipeg has steadily been rising in recent years, with the City of Winnipeg saying more rounds are being played at the courses they own and operate.

As of June 4, Kildonan Park Golf Course has seen 8,640 rounds played since opening, up from 4,400 last year. Windsor Park has 7,290 rounds played this year, while Crescent Drive Golf Course has seen more than 4,000 rounds played.

“Golf has always historically had peaks and valleys in terms of golfer participation,” said Ben Fey, the general manager of golf services with the City of Winnipeg. “And we're obviously in a considerable uptick right now, in terms of number of people playing the game. It's as healthy as it's ever been. And golf is becoming cool again.”

Fey said since they opened up the courses on April 27, the booking sheet has been full, especially later in the week and on weekends.

Fey said the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the reasons they’ve seen more people grabbing clubs and hitting the links. Due to public health orders in place, many rec centres and rinks closed, but golf courses were able to remain open, as they were best to handle physical distancing requirements.

"We didn't have to close and I think, you know, because of that, we saw a number of new people take up golf during the pandemic,” he said. “We saw those that maybe got away from the game returned to golf. And the retention has been outstanding.”

The sport is attracting a new crowd as well, Fey said, noting more women and younger people are taking it up. He adds a more casual dress code, fun leagues for after work, and even people playing music on their golf carts are other things that are helping build interest in the game.

“Golf always had this stigma that it’s your dad or your grandpa’s game, or it’s a rich man’s game,” Fey said. “At least on our courses, we’re really making an effort to get away from that. We want golf to be available, and a game anybody can play. We want you to come out and have fun on our golf courses, and not worry about some of those old, stuffy rules that a lot of people remember about golf.”

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