The 108 Golf Resort is having a banner season, not just in revenue but in new members.
General manager Lee Hansen said he’s been seeing a number of young men joining the longtime golfers on the greens this year.
“There’s a lot of new people starting up golf. With COVID-19 there’s nothing to do and it’s safe out there in your own bubble,” Hansen said. “We used to have a pretty old membership around here. Now we have men, who are 19 or 25 years old, joining us.”
The sport has been a huge boost to the 108 Golf Resort, he added, bringing in $145,000 in green fees, as of the end of July, up from $82,000 in 2020.
Lynden Jeffrey, 24, who has been golfing since he was a child, said he is excited to see more young people taking up the sport. While he spent most of his time playing alone because he was so young, times appear to be changing at the local course.
“I’ve seen a couple of other younger guys out there (this year) but I haven’t golfed with them yet,” said Jeffrey, who works as an automotive refinishing technician at Sunrise Ford. “I was sitting at our mens’ club championship dinner and I am the youngest by probably 20 years so it’s nice to see other younger people picking up the game.”
Even teenagers are playing the game on a regular basis. Brock Ferguson, 14, and a group of his friends like to play a round of golf at the 108 Golf Resort at least once a week during the summer.
Ferguson said he was introduced to the sport by his friend Lynden Hansen shortly after moving to 108 Mile from Abbotsford four years ago. The two of them went to the course and played a few rounds and he enjoyed it so much he kept doing it every summer.
“Golf is fun and relaxing too,” Ferguson said. “I hadn’t held a golf club before. It was a lot of patience and taking my time learning how to swing the club correctly.”
Jeffrey said he got involved in golf because his dad is a “big golfer,” who taught him how to play and gave him access to a few pros. In addition to the 108 Golf Resort, Jeffrey has played games in Kamloops, Williams Lake, Vancouver and Prince George, playing his first provincial tournament at the age of 12. However, the effort wore him out over time and he decided to take a break when he turned 18.
“I used to play it because I was good at it not because I enjoyed it,” Jeffrey said. “So then I took a year off and came back and absolutely fell in love with the game again and now I just play because I enjoy it.”
He credits the influence of social media for increasing interest among young people, saying as golf becomes more of a “cool thing to do,” it drives people to go give it a try.
He maintains golf is a sport that puts a high value on respect, which builds character. Although he used to get angry whenever he didn’t meet his own high standards, he said the year off helped put the game into perspective. While he still gets frustrated at times, he said his focus is now more on having fun although he admits he is keen to beat his best score at the 108 Golf Resort, which is 65 on a par 71 course. The course record sits at 64.
Ferguson, meanwhile, doesn’t have such grand ambitions. He said golf keeps him active during the summer when he’s not playing hockey or lacrosse and plans to keep playing it casually as he gets older, just to have fun. His dad has also been a good mentor when he goes out on the course.
Jeffrey encourages all newcomers to focus on the short game of golf. Even if players can consistently make a 250 drive down the middle of the fairway it doesn’t matter if they miss four-foot putts. Chipping and putting is just as important as teeing off, if not more so.
“It’s just kind of a growing game and becoming more relaxed,” he said. “It’s a very difficult game to be good at but the most important thing is to have fun, get out there and your game will improve.”