Sleigh ride trail may be par for the course

Journal Pioneer staff
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Summerside Golf and Country Club event could create seasonal use

LINKLETTER– A promotion of the junior golf program at the Summerside Golf and Country club could have much wider appeal, providing opportunities for year-round activities.

The Summerside Golf and Country Club created a sleigh ride trail over the "rough" areas of the course, but there were plenty of fun opportunities to play in the snow while waiting for a trip.

The event, a sleigh ride over selected areas of the course, augmented by snow golf activities, attracted a steady stream of visitors through Saturday afternoon.

According to manager Dallas Desjardins, it was devised as both a promotion of the junior golf program at the club, as well as an introduction to the facility for any participants who had never been to the club.

“We do host functions during the winter, and the golf simulator is available for use,” Desjardins explained the standard services, indicating that further information is available on the club website.

The sleigh ride was a first-time experiment, but it showed potential for future use.

The “one-horse, open sleigh” opportunity - featuring “Pete”, reigned by Jim Gallant of Summerside - which operates on a “by request” basis, attracted more visitors than Desjardins expected.

“We just posted it on facebook and twitter. I didn’t expect to have this response,” he noted, surpassing his expectation of 50-60 participants only half way through the scheduled time frame.

It scored a hole-in-one for some.

“We love doing sleight rides, but most are not close to here so this is perfect,” commented Heather Shea.

She also appreciated the opportunity to just get outside and enjoy the fresh air, as she watched her three children play snow golf while awaiting the next loading of the sleigh.

“They like that: golfing in winter,” she added, noting that her son, Josiah, is part of the junior golf program at the club.

Junior club member Brandon Ramsay, who is also a member of the provincial junior team, served up hot chocolate, warm apple cider and cookies. He decided the option of snow golfing was a good experience to promote playing in summer.

(The trail) is perfect for cross country skiing and snowshoeing! Dallas Desjardins, manager Summerside Golf and Country Club

Creating trails over the golf course is an experiment. The golf course is normally posted as out-of-bounds for winter use because of potential damage to the underlying grass surfaces, particularly in sensitive areas.

“It’s was amazing to me,” exclaimed Desjardins about learning the effect of something as seemingly low-impact as cross-country skiing.

“You don’t know, until the thaw, where cross-country skiers have been: you then see the ice tracks, which is what kills the grass,” he detailed.

What happens is that the weight - even of a person, let alone something like a snowmobile – compacts the snow, which then turns to ice during a thaw cycle. That is what kills the grass, especially on closely cropped sites like tees and greens.

The trail for the sleigh ride was groomed over the “rough” areas of the course and Desjardins welcomes other users to make use of the trail.

“It’s perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing,” he suggested.

If this year’s event proves itself, and users respect the need to remain on the groomed trails, it could widen the club’s function for a whole new season.

“It’s great to see so many new faces,” Desjardins commented, satisfied with the achievement of that part of the goals for the event.

Organizations: Summerside Golf and Country Club

Geographic location: San Francisco

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