Bell Bay Golf Club rebuilding after devastating clubhouse fire

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Bell Bay Golf Club rebuilding after devastating clubhouse fire

The Bell Bay Golf Club in Baddeck, N.S., is being rebuilt as it gears up for its 20th anniversary celebrations. 

Its clubhouse burned down last July. General manager Eric Tobin said the business is in the final stages of planning for a big comeback. 

"We're looking forward to letting the public know what we're building here in the next couple of weeks," he said, adding that it's going to be a "huge" change. "Our business model is changing," he said of the course, which opened in 1997. 

Tobin said they'll be using the same location and foundation for the new clubhouse, but that it will be very different otherwise.

Lost history

The clubhouse will be built throughout the golf season and should be open by fall. 

Last year, the golf course was able to continue operations with donated equipment, tents and trailers. Staff were able to host a MacKenzie Tour-PGA Tour in August.

The clubhouse, which housed a pro shop, a dining room, event facilities, and storage for the club, also contained memorabilia lost in the fire.

"We've hosted national events, the Canadian amateur back in 2005, the Wayne Gretzky Invitational in 2001, numerous provincial events, not to mention our club championships and in-house events," Tobin said. 

Mike Weir helps out

The club recently received a donation from Canadian pro golfer Mike Weir, who Tobin said loves Cape Breton.

"As you walked into the [old] clubhouse we had a Mike Weir bag on display," he said. "It was probably one of the focal points of the clubhouse, and Taylor Made Golf reached out to Mike and he signed a new bag and sent it down."

The leather staff bag is similar to what Weir carries on the PGA Tour except it's signed: "Bell Bay, all the best! Mike Weir."

Tobin said they have also received support from other Cape Breton golf courses and the Baddeck community.

One of community's most important assets

Bruce Morrison, warden of Victoria County and a resident of Baddeck, said the course is important for tourism and employment.

"It's probably been the most important asset in our community since the [Alexander Graham] Bell museum was built," he said. 

Ted Stonehouse, director of golf operations for Cabot Links in Inverness, said Bell Bay did an amazing job responding to the setback.

"It's nice to see Baddeck as busy as it was and I think we're going to see a number of good things over the next few years for sure in the golf industry," Stonehouse said. 

The season at Bell Bay will open on May 12, and the course will host the Cape Breton Open in August.