Golfers are taking their first swings of the seasons after one of Ottawa’s golf centres officially opened its outdoor driving range for the season.

“A lot of people wait to see what the groundhog says. I just wait for Kevin Haime to pop his head up and to tell me when golf season is gonna start,” said Eric Smith, a frequent visitor at the Kevin Haime Golf Centre in Stittsville. “It's been a few months since I’ve hit a ball so I’m just trying to figure out if I can still do it.”

The early opening--- unusual in the golf centre's 35-year-history. Ottawa's unseasonably mild temperatures was a driving force behind the club's decision.

“We were open a few times in February in 35 years but we had to move a lot of snow,” explained Kevin Haime. “This year, it's au naturel, I mean here we sit and it's phenomenal for golfers.”

It may be the only centre open in the city so far and it’s attracting eager golf enthusiasts to get in a few swings. 

“The tee times were going quick. We had to try a couple of times. They were sold out mid transaction but managed to get in this morning,” said golfer JP Paquette. 

“This just seemed like the right idea... Why not get some fresh air,” said golfer Robyn Oliverio. Both have been spending the winter at an indoor golf club. 

Hundreds were also out at the Ottawa-Gatineau Golf Expo. Experts say the sport's popularity has been trending upward since the start of the pandemic... Even in the wake of high inflation.

“Golf is expensive too but it’s fun. So I’ll happily spend the money,” said Hayden Greis. He was in search of finding the perfect wedge to improve his game at a bargain price. “I think this is wedge is typically $200. I got it for 141... Very good deal.”

With little to no snow, Haime believes it will be an early start to the golf season. Double digit temperatures are expected this week which could bring people out on the driving range.

“I'm making sure the Wi-Fi works so I can work from here on my laptop and hit balls all day,” said Smith.