These booted ballerinas getting ready to tee-off at the 2018 Pigeon Lake ice golf tournament. The March 16 event this year sold out five weeks before it is due to start and help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
The golf tournament sold out weeks before it is due to take place and there is a long wait list.But this tournament is not in Hawaii or Palm Springs.It’s on Saturday, March 16 on the frozen Pigeon Lake, 65 km southwest of Edmonton.Most available rooms in nearby communities sold out last September.“It was -25 C last year and we had a full slate of 240 players registered a week before the game,” says Steve Richards, the Pigeon Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce member who chairs the chamber’s ice golf committee.“The tournament has grown every year since it began 23 years ago. This year it sold out five weeks before the tournament.”Chamber member Norm Froom, 77, organized the first tournament after a friend living on nearby Argentia Beach told him he had organized a golf game on the lake with friends.“We were looking for a fundraiser to continue our chamber’s efforts to support business and community in the Pigeon Lake area,” says Froom.“It sounded like a great idea for a fundraiser. We had a farmer with a four-wheeled-drive tractor and a five-metre blade plow our first course in one day and it was firm enough to walk on and use the next.”
Dressing up for St. Patrick’s Day is strongly recommended for golfers playing in the March 16 ice golf game at Pigeon Lake.
Richards says the chamber’s two nine-hole courses are being expanded to three this year. But the buzz about the fun tournament is out and there are enough interested golfers for four.“Alas, we can’t accommodate more golfers at our after-game banquet held at the nearby at the Mulhurst Bay Community Hall.”A banquet is a must. The tournament is on the eve of the Feast of Saint Patrick (AD 385-461), a cultural and religious celebration held March 17, the death date of the foremost patron saint of Ireland.Green Irish costumes are encouraged at the tournament and can win prizes.“But the weather can dictate dress on our snowy links,” says Chantelle Van Slyke, the chamber’s executive director.“Last year it was so cold snowmobile suits were popular with some. But in 2015 the temperature was plus 10 and many golfers wore T-shirts.”Two irons and a putter are usually chosen by golfers playing off green carpets.There are valuable prizes including a $10,000 hole-in-one.A bladed-machine will stand by in case there is snow on the course.“Coloured balls are provided in golfing packages, along with hundreds of dollars of discounts and specials from local business sponsors,” says Richards.“About 50 per cent of our golfers are from the Pigeon Lake area, some are from Edmonton and the remainder are from all over the place, including out of the province. The split of men and women is about 50-50.”To play next year, it might be best to volunteer this year. Work may include removing the many recycled Christmas trees from the course next day.A community hugIt seemed only right that the several hundred guests braved the recent cold spell to raise $28,000 for Kids Kottage.The charity’s for The Love of Wine Valentine fundraiser at the west end’s Double Tree by Hilton hotel supported the 24-hour shelter for families facing a crisis. The shelter has helped some 33,000 families at risk children since opening its doors in 1995.“A family in crisis can often involve homelessness, the threat of family violence or mental health challenges,” said Janine Fraser, Kids Kottage executive director.Nearly 30 wine agents turned out to help the shelter which provides up to 72 hours of safe, developmentally appropriate care for a child while supporting families address the problems that led to an unsafe situation.A scrumptious buffet helped guests digest the fact it costs Kids Kottage $1.3 million annually to operate the 12-bed shelter and it relies on the community to raise more than half that amount.It was the 10th anniversary of the fundraiser and Fraser shared with many loyal guests that one of the purest forms of love is seen at the shelter every day.“It is the selfless love that inspires a mother, father, grandparent or caregiver to do one of life’s hardest things – to admit that they need help and to reach out for it, because the love they have for the children in their care is more important than anything else,” she said.Fraser added she can’t imagine how hard it must be to leave that child – even somewhere as safe as Kids Kottage – for their own safety.“I believe that is the purest, most selfless form of love that a parent or caregiver can have for a child.”