Everything You Need to Know About Snow Golf

For when you just can't wait until April
  1. It is a real thing.
  2. It is a real thing. The first time I heard about it I thought I was reading a joke. This was not the case.

Snow golf is much more popular in Europe now but its modern revival started in Canada and it continues to grow across North America. If you live in a snowy climate you can probably find a tournament not too far from you sometime during the winter, but it’s rare to find courses that support it as more than a one-off charity event. Some courses, like Camisle Golf in Ontario, use snow removal machines to make the course playable throughout the year, which is fantastic, but that’s a different modified golf altogether.

Snow golf is golf on the snow or the ice. You generally use a coloured golf ball for visibility but some play with bigger meshy balls or tennis balls that won’t drop into the snow. If it drops, you are allowed to lift the ball and give yourself better lies, but as a practical matter most snow golf is played on only a few inches of snow. The green, or white as they wisely call it, should be an icy surface but if it’s snowy and therefore tracking footprints, some tournaments will provide rakes to clean your path to the hole.

It can be played on any course, but some also play on frisbee-golf courses with the mesh balls.

In terms of equipment, people sometimes modify their clubs if using a different ball and also add  tape to protect the head from scraping against the ice. Granite shafts can break in cold weather, so iron is advised. Most importantly, dress warmly. I advise taking easy to remove winter gloves that will fit over your golf gloves.

In heavy or unpacked snow you won’t get much distance on the roll, so be prepared to hit high shots with precision. Though if it’s very icy, you might want to play like it’s a classic Scottish links course and take advantage of long down-hill rolls. Putting will be a huge challenge. The white (green) isn’t nearly as predictable and smooth as a summer grass green so consider using your wedge and/or, if you have the choice, giving the “hole” a much larger radius.

If you can find a course and brave the temperatures, it’s an incredible experience. The scenery is wild and beautiful and open, like out of a Jack London story, if Jack London had played snow golf.

Links:

Instructional Video

Wikipedia

A Tournament Example (Video)

Courses that at least sometimes do wintery golf:

Midland Meadows, NB

Camisle Golf, ON

Whisky Run Golf Club, ON

Columbia Valley Golf Trail, BC

Wayzata Bay (Temporary festival made course), MN