Couchiching golf course under construction

The land already has been cleared for a new 18-hole golf course at Couchiching First Nation that could be open as early as next summer.
“The architect has said that if all goes well, we could be done by next year,” Couchiching Chief Chuck McPherson noted.
Right now, the course is a mess of timber, branches, and stumps but it is expected to be a scenic one once finished, with most of the holes cut out of the wooded area and Frog Creek dividing the front nine from the back nine.
Several holes also will border Stanjikoming Bay.
The course is quickly materializing after being introduced as an idea to the band council just over a year ago, followed by a lengthy period of discussion and consultation.
“One of our councillors, Bobby Mainville, was the one that suggested it and council agreed we should pursue it,” noted Chief McPherson.
“Certainly it will provide jobs to begin with,” he added. “We’ve been looking for anything for economic development. The whole district is run by one industry, the paper mill, and our people historically haven’t been working there.
“Our current administration promised two things–economic development and some kind of recreation facility,” Chief McPherson remarked.
But the band also expects the course to benefit the surrounding area.
“It’s going to create jobs for community members which will, in turn, bring money to the town of Fort Frances,” noted project manager Shane Jourdain.
Jourdain and Chief McPherson, both avid golfers, said they don’t expect the new course to have an adverse affect on Kitchen Creek Golf Club west of town.
“Hopefully, we can complement them. The whole intent is not to be adversarial–we want to complement them,” the chief said.
“That’s the thing with golfers. They’re always looking for something new. Even though I’d have a membership here, I’d still go to Kitchen Creek,” added Jourdain.
“Golf has taken off in the community and even the surrounding communities in the past five years–it’s phenomenal,” he added.
The course, expected to cost about $2 million, is being funded by a combination of private investors, Couchiching band council, and the federal government.
It will include a pro shop, driving range, and clubhouse.
“Right now, the whole initiative is under the control of the band. The actual management of it has yet to be determined,” said Chief McPherson.
The course has been designed by Kevin Holmes of M.B.T.W. out of Sault St. Marie. Already, about 1,100 cords of wood have been removed from the land by Tom Veert Contracting.
While reaction to the new course has been quiet so far, there is some concern over its possible environmental impact.
“I guess the concern, if there’s any concern at all, is a golf course usually gets chemicals put on it, pesticides and herbicides, which could very well leak into Frog Creek, leak down to Rainy River, and into Lake of the Woods,” said Roger Simms, president of the Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists.
Simms noted he hopes the golf course managers take environmental precautions some others fail to take.
“Like anything else, you can probably drive though the Rainy River District and there’s a number of places the manure of livestock flows into rivers and creeks,” he said.
“That’s quite a story somebody could put together sometime and I guess it’s the same for the golf course.
“I don’t have any concerns with Couchiching First Nation putting together a golf course, it could be a good economic tool for them,” Simms added.
“But by the same token, will they take care of the creek? Will they just cut the grass and that’s it, or will they do more?”
The course plans did meet all the federal environmental requirements before Couchiching went ahead with construction.