As the leaves fall, the clock winds down on the 2023 golf season.
Cooke Municipal Golf Course will be closing for the winter with Monday, Oct. 9 serving the final day of the season.
Cooke head professional Darcy Myers says the conditions at Cooke have been immaculate all season long.
“The golf course has been exceptional. The condition of our golf course from opening day throughout the whole season has just been phenomenal. Our turf care team, Pierre (Vezeau) and his crew, they do such a wonderful job providing our patrons with the best playing conditions anywhere. A lot of people have taken notice of that, and our green fee play has improved.”
Cooke was in the spotlight throughout the summer playing host to both the Monday qualifier for the PGA Tour Canada’s Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open and the Senior Men’s and Women’s Championships for Golf Saskatchewan.
Myers says the tournaments gave golfers from across North America the chance to see the course.
“It’s huge. That’s why we host these tournaments is to get some exposure and get people to see what we have here, and it was especially nice to see that with the Monday qualifier. There was a lot of Americans here and they were very pleasantly surprised when they got here. They didn’t expect what we had to offer.”
“With the provincial seniors, we got visitors that haven’t been here for a number of years, and they thoroughly enjoyed our facilities, our golf course and the volunteers. It’s just a real positive spin on this facility and the city in general.”
The top scores from the Monday qualifier for the Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open were Americans Logan Perkins and Zach Mandry who shot four-under par rounds of 66.
Cooke, which plays shorter yardage wise than more modern courses, was still able to provide some top players with a challenge. Myers says players at Cooke need to excel at more than just driving the ball far to find a low score.
“We’ve seen it in the past where people look at the yardage on the scorecard and think this is going to be a pretty easy place. The setup of this golf course can make it play fairly difficult for even the best players out there like the PGA Tour Canada guys. It’s about position here, not length. The greens are a big defense to this golf course. They can play very difficult, and some local knowledge sure helps in a lot of those cases.”
Throughout the season, the tee sheet was consistently booked at Cooke and just by the club’s members. Myers says he saw several new faces at Cooke over the duration of the summer and a significant increase in green fee players.
“I’d estimate (around) 10%. I don’t have final numbers in front of me yet, but it was very noticeable, especially weekend play (with) people in the area or heading up to (Waskesiu) National Park. A lot more people were hearing good things about Cooke Municipal and wanting to check it out. That word of mouth really helps with those provincials and other highlight events that we’ve hosted and it’s starting to pay off.”
With the golf season coming to a close, Myers says a lot of work will be done to the course to make it play even better in 2024.
“We’re always looking to get better in what we do and what we offer. This offseason will be no different. There’s a lot of planning. We are going to do a little more tree work out there this fall and cart path improvements. Various things that we work towards and we’re seeing the fruition, and we want to keep that going. We’re always looking for areas where we can improve and make things better. I think we’ve done a pretty good job.”
Even when the course is closed for the season, Cooke will still have options available for those who are itching to play a round on the links. During the offseason, Cooke operates two indoor golf simulators in the basement of the pro shop.
Myers says the simulators provide new golfers a chance to get an introduction to the game, while also allowing diehard golfers to get their fix in during the long, cold Saskatchewan winters.
“We have a short (golf) season here in Saskatchewan. It is May to early October typically and these simulators help us extend the season for those avid golfers or even those who want to pick up the game and get some help in the offseason to get ready for the outdoor season. It’s really helped us reach a lot of different golfers that want to start the game or work on their game in the offseason.”