The Dawson Creek Golf and Country Club (DCGCC) is looking to upgrade the city’s dated golf course, but a recent decision by City Council to reject funding for the project may put the improvements on hold.
“It certainly changes what we can, or were going to do in this coming season,” said Country Club board member Garry Smolik, regarding Council’s denial on Nov. 5 of the club’s grant application for $100,000 to support Phase 1 of the DCGCC proposed Master Plan.
The Master Plan is an expected multi-year project with the objective of bringing a “championship” quality golf course to Dawson Creek, while improving playability for the average golfer.
The City’s 2013 grant budget only allowed for $50,000 and Council denied the request on the grounds that the DCGCC, albeit a non-profit organization, competes with nearby Farmington Fairways, which is a business.
According to the Club’s board of directors they felt the City’s support of Phase 1 of the plan would add credibility to the project, and increase future opportunities for corporate support.
DCGCC has already initiated steps towards Phase-1 construction, trucking in approximately 4,200 yards of topsoil, and procuring 300 tonnes of sand.
Construction was expected to begin May of 2013, but Council’s decision may delay initial plans according to Smolik.
“For the moment we are on hold, without the financial resources we can’t [go ahead as planned],” said Smolik. “We hope to continue moving forward with redeveloping it but unless we have the financial resources we’re not able to do anymore than what we have resources for.”
He said he couldn’t provide a new timeline for the project but noted that plans would depend on funding – likely to now come from corporate donors.
“We are a non-profit society so of course things will go as they can,” said Smolik. “We are certainly hoping to encourage community-minded businesses and some of the large entities in the area to try and support us to make the course much better, fresh, and redesigned.”
The first phase of construction is budgeted for $116,500.
The Master Plan is a complete overhaul of the golf course that the Plan committee and DCGCC board of directors say will distinguish the course from others in the region to “become the undisputed choice for golf in the Peace River area”, reads a release issued to the Dawson Creek Daily News.
DCGCC directors have sought championship status by recruiting the professional expertise of Suny Zokol Golf Design out of Vancouver. The company visited in August of last year to meet with board members and form a basis for the Master Plan.
Golf fans may recognize the name Richard Zokol. He is a legendary Canadian golfer and a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, his partner Armen Suny is a former greens superintendent and general manager of several of America’s top 100 greatest courses.
The Master Plan calls for the rebuilding of all tee boxes and the majority of greens, the installment of new bunkers, as well as the widening of several fairways.
There will be a black tee box on each hole placed further back to challenge the lower handicap players. There will be two sets of tee boxes for average players, and a forward tee for the enjoyment of beginners and high-handicap golfers.
The Course’s greens are very old with poor drainage and will be raised to receive more sunlight and ensure better drainage. New contours will also be added.
Under Phase 1 of the Master Plan a new green for hole seven will be constructed approximately 70 yards back of the present green, and new tee boxes will be built for number eight. A nursery green is to be built and used in each phase of the Master Plan. In the future development of new greens the golf course will be able to use sod from the nursery to put on the new greens in order to place it into service quicker; this, according to course directors, will enable upgrades while minimizing the impact on the golfing public.
As part of the project the DCGCC also hopes to address its water shortage problems by digging out the large pond located on the back nine to allow for more irrigation.
All told the Master Plan is approximated to cost $2 million.
“Rather than do piecemeal (improvements), we felt it was prudent to look at the future that would have a plan that would encompass the entire course to have a cohesive well-thought out process,” explained Smolik about the plan’s price tag, which he doesn’t expect to come at a cost to golfers.
“Our goal is trying to work forward without really raising rates,” he said, while noting that the cost of operating a golf course isn’t getting cheaper.
“I can’t say that rates aren’t going to go up over the course of time. Expenses are going up naturally over the course of things, everything is getting more expensive, fuel, labour, fertilizer, and all those things have been going up. I don’t expect those things to change.”
Master Plan committee member Garry Scott says the upgrades will bring new life to the course, helping it to compete with surrounding courses while appealing to all golfers.
“It will be something for everybody, it will appeal to a wider range of people,” he said. “Everyone likes new and improved, our course has served us well for the 50 or 60 years, but all golf courses need to be rejuvenated over time.
“We’re kind of lagging behind Grande Prairie and Lake Point at Fort St. John, which are just a little more modernly designed and nicer courses than we’ve got,” he added. “Our local people golf there [DCGCC], but we feel new and improved it will make it more as a golf destination and maybe help tourists stay a day or two longer.”
Smolik noted that it’s time the golf course capitalize on Dawson Creek’s economic boom.
"As we move forward, and Dawson Creek grows, our amenities have to grow with it in order to attract people to our community and keep them here,” he said. “Part of the reason people move to a community is because there are certain facilities, and we [DCGCC] are a part of that, and we want to make sure we do the best we can to improve the community.”