Twin Lakes golf striving to attract golfers

Twin Lakes Golf Course went rogue last year, at least in the minds of some Okanagan course operators.

Twin Lakes Golf Course went rogue last year, at least in the minds of some Okanagan course operators.

The longtime fixture on the South Okanagan golfing scene introduced $10 Tuesdays with minimum fanfare. That is not a typo. Players who teed up  in the afternoon, and were willing to walk, paid a mere $10 for 18 holes.

Twin Lakes is no pitch and putt. At 6,867 yards from the back tees it can play long, but playing from the middle tees is enjoyable for mid-handicappers and doesn’t discourage newcomers to the game.

“It’s part of a plan to make the game accessible to people of all incomes,” says course manager Kate Swanson, who is on a mission to reintroduce the course to golfers of all abilities.

“We are a community that loves golf and we want to be the golf course everyone plays at least twice a year. Everyone.” says Swanson emphatically.

Twin Lakes can be summed up in two words: value and vistas. The course is located on Highway 3A, 15 minutes from Penticton, Keremeos and Okanagan Falls, in a spectacular wild setting beneath towering granite cliffs.

Observant golfers may spot a cougar traversing a ridge. Luckily, the cougars and bears prefer higher elevation, unlike the marmot and deer that frequent the lower regions. Take a club when looking for balls in the rough. The South Okanagan is rattlesnake country.

The course, which has been around for 35 years, was purchased in 2008 by a private  group based in Vancouver.  Affordable golf and sustainable turf management are two of the ownership group’s top priorities.

Swanson’s mission includes bringing young golfers to the game. The course currently has 150 members and the plan is to max out at 200, to ensure members always get tee times and don’t have to deal with a ballot system.

Four years ago, Twin Lakes underwent a change in direction, opting for a more natural ambience. It’s a work in progress under the stewardship of golf superintendent Alex Inglis, who came on board in 2012. Swanson says going “au natural” is part of an effort to give an old-time feel to the course while protecting the environment.

“Our main focus at Twin Lakes is to preserve, not waste. We went from gas carts to electric carts. We went from watering wall-to-wall to restricting watering to the fairways tee boxes and greens,” said Swanson.

Twin Lakes is located on the same elevation as Whistler ski resort, making for a later start than other Okanagan courses located lower in the valley. Inglis started early to insure the greens are pristine for this year’s opening last week.

His crew cleared snow off the greens in February to avoid past problems caused by the early spring melting and freezing cycle.

Need a tee time in half an hour? No problem, pro shop manager Dave Roberts will work you in.

“Our goal this year is to offer one of the best customer service experiences in the Okanagan,” said Swanson. “You have to be positive to work at Twin Lakes.”

That service includes giving back to the community. The course schedules four golf-by-donation days in the shoulder seasons, with all proceeds going to a designated charity. All the charity days are booked for 2013.

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