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Hitting the links in the dead of winter

With the pandemic limiting the practical work of some Nipissing University education students, a unique golf tournament is being organized this winter. 

Bill Steer, a part-time instructor for Nipissing’s Bachelor of Physical and Health Education (BPHE) program, is calling on the community to donate old, pre-metallic golf clubs so his students can take part in snowshoe golf. 

“We’ve had to double up on activities at Nipissing University at the BCHE program,” Steer said. “What better thing to do with a northern flavour than a snowshoe golf tournament?”

Normally, Steer would take his students snowshoeing through the area’s trails as part of the practical work required for the program. 

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By combining snowshoeing with another activity, the 40-plus students in the program will be able to complete their practical work through a snowshoe golf tournament Steer is planning for January. 

“There’s that whole aspect of physiology and swings and adaptation so I think snowshoe golf is the perfect activity for this coming winter,” he explained. 

The rules for snowshoe golf largely align with those of the regular sport. Players strap on their snowshoes, use one of their three clubs to hit a tennis ball with the aim of getting it inside a hula hoop that has been laid out as the hole. 

“When you’re on snowshoes, anything can happen,” Steer explained. “Your swing will be different. How you approach the game will be different but the premise remains the same. You have to get the ball in the hole.”

In order to play, Steer needs donations of older golf clubs that are made of wood instead of the contemporary graphite, which can shatter on contact if they get too cold. 

“They don’t make them like they used to,” Steer joked. 

Assisting in the gathering of the equipment is Jeff Rogerson, the General Manager of Osprey Links Golf Course. Rogerson says he’s contacted some of his members and has been able to gather some clubs for the Nipissing class.

“It’s a novel idea, it’s thinking outside the box,” Rogerson said. 

The North Bay area used to be home to regular snowshoe golf tournaments in the 1970s when a group of people organized them. 

The World Ice Golf Championship is also held on a small island in Greenland, running annually since 1999. 

However, Rogerson doesn’t see Steer’s revitalization of the sport in the area as a new opportunity for his course. 

“We won’t be selling white fees any time soon,” he laughed. 

Steer, on the other hand, sees snowshoe golf as an opportunity that could extend beyond those in his class. 

“What a wonderful way to get outside and look at games and activities from a different perspective. We have students in schools all over the North Bay area who could benefit from snowshoe golf,” he said. 

Donations of old golf clubs are being accepted at Beatty Printing on Cassells St. where there will be a collection bin set up.

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