Whistler Golf Course installing all new putting greens 

Tourism Whistler updates members at 2012 business plan meeting

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When the Whistler Golf Club opens up for the 2012 golf season on May 18 golfers will be aiming at brand new putting greens.

Karen Playfair, Tourism Whistler's VP of Finance and Operations, made the announcement at a meeting of Tourism Whistler members Monday (Dec. 12).

"We're putting in new greens this season," Playfair said at the 2012 business plan update meeting for TW members.

The Director of Golf at Whistler's original golf course said after 30 years the current greens need attention. Alan Kristmanson said that snow mould and disease have been a concern over the last few years and the greens just aren't recovering quickly enough once winter ends. He also said another grass species has invaded the greens so to improve playability, the old grass is being removed and a new strain of grass called 007 Bent grass from a sod company in Abbotsford is being installed.

"As soon as snow permits we'll strip the greens and they'll strip the bent sod in Abbotsford and we'll be installing right behind it," Kristmanson said.

"In our short season we just can't afford to have putting surfaces that aren't in great shape until July," he added.

The project, according to Kristmanson, is about improving the product for golfers and getting the course open for operations sooner each spring. In addition to that good news for Whistler Golf Course customers, Kristmanson said the cost of the project wouldn't be passed onto customers, so the price of a round of golf will not change next season.

"We think we'll have the best putting surfaces anywhere once this project is done," Kristmanson said.

TW CEO Barrett Fisher also said in the member meeting that TW is searching for a major golf event to take place in Whistler in 2013. She wouldn't offer any details but she said discussions are underway.

She also confirmed that discussions are going ahead with a major global winter sporting organization to bring a ski and snowboard event to Whistler in 2013. Again, because of confidentiality concerns Fisher asked TW members to keep details of the event confidential.

Members also learned that Warrior Dash isn't returning next year. Fisher said the event organizers usually work in larger markets with as many as 15,000 participants, and although they were happy with the Whistler event this summer the organizers have chosen not to return.

But while the Warrior Dash group is moving on another similar event, the Tough Mudder competition, is to take place June 23 and 24 at Whistler Olympic Park. The multi-discipline race includes obstacles called the Swamp Stomp, Berlin Walls, Kiss of Mud, Walk the Plank and Electro Shock Therapy. Registration for that event is already open and full details are available on the Tough Mudder website, http://toughmudder.com/events/vancouver.

Fisher said TW is looking to grow room nights by 5 per cent this winter season with California, the United Kingdom and Australia as key markets followed by Alberta, Mexico, Germany and Japan as key secondary markets and China, India and Brazil as emerging markets. She cautioned that visits from Japan have been in decline and visa issues continue to prevent Mexico from living up to its full potential as a secondary market.

Fisher also said feedback from visitors has indicated there's a strong desire to have free WiFi service available throughout the village. The hotels are currently charging for that service so Fisher said discussion is needed with the hotels to determine if visitors will get their wish.

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