Skip to content

Innisfail Golf Club on big season start-up high

The golf industry and Innisfail club are experiencing record memberships and demands for new equipment

INNISFAIL – The Innisfail Golf Club was supposed to open its 2022 season on April 21 but Mother Nature’s post-winter wrath blasted through a couple of days earlier.

No problem. The date was just moved a few days later.

Besides, the extra moisture the snow brought added needed insurance to the greens and fairways following last year’s hot dry summer.

Nobody is really worried these days at the club, widely regarded as one of the most popular golfing venues in the province.

Staff was fully prepared to start its first full season without COVID-19 restrictions since 2019.

Less or no pandemic restrictions is of course being welcomed by many.

But there is another interesting side to the COVID-19 issue as to how it’s impacted the golf industry, including the Innisfail Golf Club.

“COVID has actually done a great deal for the golf industry as much as obviously we would all prefer to have never had to deal with it,” said Mathew MacDonald, the local club’s head professional. “It’s allowed people to get back out and discover golf.

“The one fear, and I will be honest, that we have is with so many oilfield businesses and so many other businesses starting to revamp up, reproducing and getting everything going. Unfortunately, I think people will be playing a little less golf on an individual level, just because, as I have always said, ‘work gets in the way,” he said, adding the sport overall will see the average person play more rounds of golf.

“That’s just because so many people have been exposed to the game the last two years that would have never experienced it.”

With so many people, including new golfers, heading to the links everywhere it has also led to an unprecedented demand for new equipment in the industry, which is also being felt at the local club.

“We almost can not get boxed sets of golf clubs,” said MacDonald, adding the item is what many new people to the sport would use for a starter set at a lower cost. “You can not order them. I couldn’t order them as of October of last year because people had already fulfilled their allotment.

“We do have some coming in but a lot of them were really hard to get a hold of,” he said. “We had to fight and allocate a lot of dollars towards that in order for us to get them because they are just so hard to find at this point.”

MacDonald said the club normally expects custom golf club orders to arrive within five to 10 days but it did not see some items for about six months.

Nevertheless, the Innisfail Golf Club is moving along quite nicely with the industry that is experiencing record membership figures.

The expectations are high for 2022, a season that could be one of the most attended and lucrative in the club’s 98-year history.

“We’re extremely excited. We’re already starting to see in terms of membership that there is a ton of demand for memberships still,” said MacDonald.

The club’s membership is now limited to 500, which was achieved in 2021 as well. It was also the first time in club history it limited the membership numbers.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had to cap some of our memberships just because of our business model and the way it works, not that we want to keep people away by any stretch of the imagination but we can only offer so many spots per day to members,” said MacDonald.

“And once we reach essentially our maximum limit then we have to start allowing the public to continue to play as well, and that all plays into the part that we are a semi-private golf club as opposed to a private club,” he added. “This year again, obviously positive. We filled up sooner than we ever had, which is really good.

"Last year we were still taking memberships into May, whereas we were almost filled up basically at the beginning of April this year.”

As for key events and tourneys scheduled for 2022, the club’s Ping Vendor Day on April 29 will be the club’s first major event, and it’s open to both members and the public with many prizes being offered.

On the competitive front, the Alberta Golf Tour is coming to the club for a single-day amateur tournament on Saturday, June 4. For the pros, the Innisfail club is hosting a two-day PGA of Alberta tourney on June 27 and 28.

MacDonald said there will also be the club’s Seniors Open on June 14 for anyone 50 and over.

“It’s a really good event. It’s a nice start to the season,” said MacDonald. “We usually have a good month under our belt for the golf course to really start to green up and look quite solid.”