Water woes dampen Kitchen Creek season

Greg Ross isn’t about to let the Kitchen Creek Golf Club shrivel away to nothing, come Hell or high water—although more of the latter certainly would help matters.
“I’ll find a way to get it done,” vowed Ross, the club’s course superintendent, in reference to coming up with a plan to rejuvenate its water supply that was severely weakened by an especially dry summer this year.
“We’ve had a lot of hard times, but we have to find a way to get it done. At some point, though, we have to get some co-operation from somebody,” he added.
Ross wasn’t specific, but the club has been locked in an extended battle with the Ministry of Natural Resources and neighbouring landowners about gaining access to various bodies of water just outside of its boundaries.
The issue of finding irrigation options was the main topic of discussion at the club’s annual winter meeting here Dec. 2. Ross knows it’s tough to come up with solutions when running a business that’s at the mercy of Mother Nature.
“I don’t know if it was the worst season for lack of rain that I’ve seen, but it was bad,” he lamented. “As the season progressed, we had a difficult time maintaining the quality of the putting surface.
“When the grass on the fairways goes dormant, it will come back,” Ross remarked. “But the grass on the greens wears out because it goes through more wear and tear, and dies off.”
The creation of pond areas situated just off of Kitchen Creek and the adjoining floodway is seen as a good possibility to help combat the problem, with the idea being the ponds would be in an area that would catch water through spring run-off.
But while the plan has merit to club members, it comes with a hefty price tag.
“I’m guessing the cost of such a plan would be between $250,000-$300,000,” estimated Ross. “We have to decide if it’s financially feasible.”
Ross didn’t shut the door on the hopes that an agreement eventually can be reached with adjacent property owners to tap into the water supplies on their properties.
For now, he said the club will continue to depend on having water trucked in when necessary. But without the ponds, and with the threat of another sun-drenched summer hanging over their heads, Ross predicted more stormy days ahead.
“Another dry summer would put us in a difficult position,” he warned. “We can survive, but to get better will be impossible.”
Also at the Dec. 2 meeting, it was announced membership would jump by $25 for 2004.
Ross said it still is undecided whether there will be any subsequent increase in greens fees to accompany the hike on memberships.
As well, a new club executive was chosen from the board of directors. Shawn O’Donnell was selected the new president, while Dave Berry was picked as vice-president, and Gus MacDonell was voted in as secretary-treasurer.