by Spencer Kemp
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The construction of a new green is underway at the Pipestone Hills Golf Course.
Chair of the Board at the Pipestone Hills Golf Club Pat McDonald says the golf course decided to extend its course rather than redo the aging green.
“Golf courses need changes and updates and mixups and everything along that line. So we came to where one of our greens was aging and we were struggling a bit to keep it in good playing shape. So we decided that it was time to look at doing a rebuild. So for us, when you’re going to make a change and rebuild it, it’s either take a green out of service for a year or relocate. And for us, our long-term capital plan is to do some relocating and make some different enhancements to the course,” McDonald explained.
“This was an opportunity since own the land north of us to go in there and start construction on a new green, make it a little bit bigger, and lengthen the hole a bit. It gave us a few options to enhance the course and in particular this hole. So we’ve been working on developing the plan, and that’s what we settled on and now we’re getting into the construction side of it.”
While the current green at Hole 8 will be available through the summer, McDonald says the construction of the new hole should be complete in late fall or early spring in 2022.
“It’ll take through the summer. The golf course is open now and we’re playing on the existing Number 8 green. Building the new one is probably going to take us the better part of the year.
“It was all natural land. We have to develop it and we have to get the right makeup for a green, get the right rock. It’s a bit of a process to build and establish a green. If we were to get on and play it in the fall, we would look at that as a bit of a bonus. But if we don’t, it’ll be open next spring.”
Once complete, Hole 8 will be moved to the new location and the old green will be turned into fairway.
“It will actually be absorbed as part of the fairway then because we’re lengthening the hole. The green will actually come out of play and we’ll shape it to make it more part of the fairway. Because everything will be behind it, it’ll be absorbed into the fairway,” McDonald explained.
Utilizing in-house services and volunteers, McDonald says the golf course is planning to keep the project budget around $30,000.
“We have about a $30,000 budget to do it but we’ll do a lot of it with our in-house resources. Our head greenkeeper with part of his crew and some volunteer help we’re thinking that with the budget we’ve set out how we’ll do it for around that $30,000. There may be incidentals in there, but that’s our ballpark figure.”
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, golf was one of the few sports that was able to be enjoyed in nearly full capacity. Because of the distance and small group sizes associated with golfing, it was a prime choice for many who were unable to enjoy their regular sports.
McDonald says that because of this, the Pipestone Hills Golf Course saw an increase in younger golfers and new golfers.
“In general all courses did. We saw two demographics, a lot of younger golfers coming out there and a lot of first-time golfers. People who couldn’t travel and we were open and there was no minor sports or anything, people looked for things to do with their kids and we ended up being the benefactor of that. Our course was extremely busy last year,” McDonald said.
With COVID-19 restrictions still in effect across Saskatchewan, McDonald says the golf course is expecting a busy year.
“We’re preparing for a busy season. Last year, golf rules came out as part of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Golfcourse Guidelines, they were stricter than what they are now with our opening. I had talked to the Saskatchewan Golf Association last year and some of the rules that they were coming up with were tailored around 18-hole golf courses and city golf courses where people could come and go and never cross paths. But on a small course like ours, a 9-hole course, if you’re playing 18 holes you might merge with the group coming on to Hole 1. So we had some of these interfacing challenges. So we talked a lot to them and said the rules are essential for us to open but they’re not conducive to smaller courses, and they really listened. They lessened some restrictions last year, and this year the restrictions they have in place related to COVID-19 are way looser and user friendly for a golf course to function and operate.”
McDonald says that the clubhouse will be open this year, following COVID-19 restrictions which include proper masking, limited capacity, and social distancing.
“This year we’re opening up inside the clubhouse with more restrictions, less seating, and some of those things. That’s going to be a challenge for us but we’re confident. We have a great staff and we’ve done this through COVID once before.
“We actually have a COVID-19 committee for the course which is myself, the groundskeeper, the grounds superintendent, and the clubhouse manager. We discuss things that are COVID-related and we’re prepared to open up and manage around this.”
Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator