Lots of possibilities for golf course improvements

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Olds Highlands Golf Club members have some big decisions to make over the winter on possible improvements to the course, pro/manager Wade Bearchell says.

He notes the need for improvements came up during the club’s fall meeting, which attracted about 40 people Wednesday, Oct. 25.

“We had probably the best year weather-wise that I’ve ever seen in my 25 years in the golf business. If the economy was a little better I think we would have had a fantastic year,” Bearchell said.

He says the club wants to improve the facility; it’s just a question of how.

Possibilities include fixing up infrastructure like the access road and/or parking lot and cart paths, renovating the exterior of the clubhouse ñ especially the north side that gets hit by golf balls occasionally ñ improving the club’s fleet of power carts, or fixing bunkers.

Bearchell says about a dozen bunkers have been identified as needing to be fixed up.

“You can take the odd one out of play and work on them and rebuild them; that has to be done,” he says.

Bearchell says over time, bunkers no longer drain properly. As a result, they get hard and “water just kind of sits in the bottom. So they need to be rebuilt.”

“It’s actually quite a process to rebuild a bunker properly. A lot of people think you just dig a hole and throw sand in,” Bearchell says.

“It’s actually quite a bit more complicated than that in order so that it drains properly and the sand stays soft so that you can play out of it; hit a normal bunker shot out of it.

“We’re going to do some of them but we’re trying to balance everything and make sure that we don’t fall behind on our infrastructure issues while trying to improve the asset because it’s still a pretty good golf course.”

Maintaining the clubhouse itself is another concern.

“The north side gets hit quite often with golf balls. You look at water getting in behind there and then there’s the potential for mould and things like that,” Bearchell says.

However, that one project could lead to an even larger one.

“Do you do one side of the building, do you do the whole building,” he asks. “Those are discussions that you need to have; those are big expenses and that’s essentially one year’s worth of revenue to go and redo the entire outside of this building.”

“You can just keep adding them up,” Bearchell says. “They end up being quite a long list of projects that you can do. You balance it with the buildings and the infrastructure or the golf course as well as power carts — those are also a big part of our revenue stream.”

He says one way to determine what the priority should be might be to consider how people from outside the community view the course and its facilities.

“What’s the customer’s perception when they come here,” Bearchell asks. “What do they see? We all know what we see ñ we come here every day, we live in this community. What do our customers see is an important question we have to ask ourselves going forward.”

“We all know what we see ñ we come here every day, we live in this community. What do our customers see is an important question we have to ask ourselves going forward.” WADE BEARCHELL OLDS HIGHLANDS GOLF COURSE PRO/MANAGER

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Doug Collie

Doug Collie joined the Olds Albertan in 2014 as editor. He covers municipal politics, news, community events, arts and entertainment and sports happening in and around Bowden and Olds.