Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Fore' Pete's sake, let's golf

Skiing, driving range see heavy action

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No one said the weather has been par for the season.

But going downhill? That's another matter entirely.

Regardless, there was a seasonal convergence on Saturday when the last open ski hill in Manitoba remained in operation while the first driving range in Winnipeg teed-off in the never-ending spring (or winter) of 2013.

And both the golfers and skiers/snowboarders were equally basking in the sun of a day where the temperature barely nudged above freezing.

In fact, it was about 2 C with a bracing westerly wind when Darcy Urdal, 62, started wailing on his first bucket of balls at Shooters Family Golf Centre on north Main Street in the early afternoon, lofting shots into mounds of snowbanks, while geese were waddling over nearby frozen ponds.

But Urdal wasn't complaining.

"Come on, I was raised in Canada," said the retired aerospace engineer. "It's near zero so I put on a sweater."

Besides, Urdal had already finished the New York Times crossword puzzle in the Saturday Free Press. And he had determined the unseasonably cold weather that has gripped Manitoba this spring had lasted "way too long."

Urdal was just happy to be hitting anything, in fact, after undergoing a carotid endarterectomy just a couple weeks ago.

"I'm not supposed to be doing anything strenuous," Urdal said, between swings. "The doctor doesn't know."

Urdal was accompanied by wife Ethel and brother-in-law Dennis Cote, but they were far from alone at Shooters. A few tee boxes away, Andrew Middleton was airing out his Taylor Made driver.

"I've been waiting for a little while," said Middleton, 27. "It's relaxing to finally get outside. You can only watch so much hockey."

Perhaps, yet Middleton was still going to be in front of the tube Saturday afternoon in time to watch the Winnipeg Jets host the New York Islanders in a critical late-season showdown.

Just one bucket first.

But while Urdal sat down at Shooters to sip on a bottle of Alexander Keith's, a few kilometres to the north, Robert Paige was soaking up the sun on the porch at the Stony Mountain Ski Area, where dozens of skiers and snowboarders were taking advantage of the final day of their season.

"I'm from B.C.," said Paige, a volunteer ski patrol member. "It kind of reminds me of back home. Last year I had six rounds of golf in by now. This is a lot better."

Indeed, what might be considered chilling golf weather was downright balmy for skiers. At Stony, the speakers were blaring out Maroon 5 and Bruno Mars tunes and mostly under-20s populated the modest slopes.

"It's awesome," said 18-year-old Trevor Szarnecki.

"Spring snowboarding is the best. I mean, look at these guys wearing T-shirts. Lovin' it. Wish it would keep going."

"I can't believe the length of the season," added Paul Marchand.

"It's been so great to come out. I put my stuff away (last week) then brought it back out again when they decided to stay open."

Garett Turbett was also grateful for the extra snow after suffering a shoulder injury in January after he "messed up a 360."

"I'm just trying to get as much in as I can," Turbett, 18, said.

"For this time of year, it's amazing how good it is."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 21, 2013 A3

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