Play suspended: golf season interrupted by the weather

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

Three golf courses across the Rainy River district have been delayed by the wet spring experienced by northwestern Ontario. Some have missed initial opening dates while one has seen more days closed than open.

Kitchen Creek Golf Club to the west of Fort Frances missed its traditional opening date ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend because the grass has been too wet to cut, according to Ron MacKinnon, manager of operations at Kitchen Creek.

“The rain has pushed us back about a week,” MacKinnon said. “Without that huge storm last Thursday (May 12), we would be open now. But depending on how much rain we get the next two days, I’m optimistic we can be open by next weekend, the 26 or 27.”

MacKinnon says staff were even out cutting the grass on some damp days last week because they’d fallen so far behind.

“We need at least three (dry) days,” MacKinnon said. “But we’re even cutting today (last Thursday) because we’re so far behind. We’re getting to where we can and cutting what we can.”

Further west at Spruce Creek Golf Course near Morson, the course opened for the season on May 7, but has had difficulty with the wet weather keeping the course closed a lot of days since then.

According to Nickol Handorgan who works at the course, a lot of people have been through, and a lot of people are having a good experience on the course.

“We’ve been closed a lot more than we’ve been open,” she said. “But the course is still holding out, we have absolutely no flooding, it’s great.”

Posts on the course’s Facebook page say that when open, people driving golf carts need to do so with caution to avoid messing up the course.

Elsewhere, east of Fort Frances on Couchiching First Nation, at the Heron Landing Golf Course flooding is keeping the course shut down. Course superintendent Mitch Perreault says standing water has been an issue.

Standing water has forced a delayed opening for Heron Landing Golf Course in Couchiching First Nation. This photo was taken on May 23. The driving range opened briefly, and staff hope to open the course as soon as they can. – Facebook photo

“With the spring runoff and the big storms we’ve had, we were behind the ball already,” Perreault said. “Most of our drainage wasn’t thawed out yet, so we just had standing water for a while, now we’re catching up and we have to deal with this flood.”

Perreault says parts of the course have become inaccessible due to the amount of water and in some cases almost entire fairways are flooded.

“Half of hole 10, the fairway is under water, a few of the cart paths are impassable,” he said. “[On holes] six and nine, have bridges that cut across a creek, they’re both under water. Thankfully none of the greens have been affected, but they say the water is still supposed to rise so we’ll keep an eye out for that.”

As for when the course might open, Perreault says it will take a lot of drying out before the necessary work can be done.

“We have to wait until the water recedes,” Perreault said. “We can’t even cut six, seven, eight and half of nine because the bridges are impassable, we thought about re-routing but there’s just no way, some holes wouldn’t even be playable right now.”