Golf season in full swing at district courses

Joey Payeur

Old Man Winter’s last gasp two weeks ago left local golfers muttering about having to temporarily stash their clubs.
It took a few extra days but now the season truly is in full swing.
At Kitchen Creek Golf Club, manager Glen Kellar actually opened the gates on April 14 but then had to close them again for almost a full week after the two days of snow on April 26-27, re-opening for business May 2.
“There was no major damage from the winter season,” noted Kellar, who added there were no layout changes to the course going into this season.
“All the holes are playable and the greens are good.”
Charged with keeping the grounds in tip-top shape is new course superintendent Andrew McComb.
The Fort Frances native is back home after most recently working at the St. Boniface Golf Club in Winnipeg.
Kitchen Creek will host a kick-off tournament May 28 that Kellar said is hoping to have ladies’, men’s, and seniors’ divisions.
Another major event scheduled is the Lions Legacy Golf Tournament slated for Saturday, July 29, with all proceeds going to district charities such as KidSport, Special Olympics, the Fort Frances “Community Chest,” and the Emo and District Medical Fund.
Participants will have a chance at winning a car with a hole-in-one.
Kellar said there’s a push to bring back the Kitchen Creek Men’s Classic, which was not held last year, and also floated the possibility of the return of the once very popular Frog Creek Open.
Meanwhile, the action only got going at Heron Landing Golf Course on Couchiching this past Friday.
“The course held up great and the greens look fabulous,” enthused operations manager Ashley Bruyere.
“They’re the best they’ve been in five years, mainly because we aerated the greens at the end of last year.”
With veteran course superintendent Mitch Perreault on duty, Heron Landing’s layout remains the same as last year, with the consistency apparently appealing to golfers.
“I expect our numbers will be better than average this year,” said Bruyere.
“Our membership sales are up 30 percent from last year right now and that’s going to get higher,” she noted.
“We’ve got a lot of new members.”
Heron Landing golfers also will be riding in style this year as an entire new fleet of golf carts were purchased for use this year.
Over at Spruce Creek Golf Course, owner Laurie Pentney, who helped build the course starting in 2004 and had its grand opening in 2007, is celebrating 10 years in business this season.
She didn’t argue that she needed plenty of optimism from the get-go to believe Spruce Creek, located on Highway 619 off Highway 621, still would be a going concern after a decade.
“That’s a very fair guess,” Pentney remarked.
“You would always like it to be busier and we’ve lost a lot of population in this area over recent years,” she added.
“But the doors are still open. We’re still here.”
The nine-hole layout also was adversely affected by the sudden return of winter in springtime.
“It put us back,” she admitted. “We couldn’t get on the course, everything was so soggy and full of snow.”
Still, Pentney said Spruce Creek weathered the cold just fine while adding the course could use some rain to help accelerate its development.
As for course changes, one bunker is being filled in and seeded over in its conversion to a greener space.
“We’ve still got 34 bunkers over nine holes,” Pentney chuckled.
The highlight event of the season at Spruce Creek once again will be the Ken Pentney Memorial, named after Pentney’s late husband, which will be held July 29.
For those who have not tried golfing at Spruce Creek yet, Pentney promised a mixture of beauty and the beast.
“We’ve got manicured fairways and beautiful greens, and then right beside them is the bush area, which we don’t clean out,” she noted.
“So if you lose a ball in there, it’s like walking around your back 40.
“You’ve also got a Canadian Shield-type landscape,” she added. “It’s such a contrast.”
In related news, Pentney again plans to bring in four area schools on four separate days in June to take part in a day of lessons and fun at Spruce Creek.
Why make the effort? In Pentney’s mind, that’s easy to answer.
“It’s always such a joy to teach the game to another generation,” she reasoned.