ANNAPOLIS ROYAL - The links are in play at least for now at the Annapolis Royal Golf and Country Club.
In an effort to help preserve the historic course, club membership association volunteers have been maintaining the greens, grounds, and fairways since late August after owners Harry and Jacqui Shepherd packed up and went back to England without notice.
“We’re certainly trying to get in contact with all the appropriate people,” said association president Dale Hoyt. “Technically (the property) isn’t in receivership but there are some large creditors owed,” including a mortgage.
For the time being, the volunteers are being permitted to operate the course and the pro-shop, but not the restaurant, said Hoyt, but that could change. “Everything is moving at a snail’s pace,” he said.
Hoyt said it is a unique situation and one that no one really has an answer for yet. The one thing the association does know is “we’ve got to keep the course in shape,” or it won’t take long for it to deteriorate. “If this had happened in June it would have been a disaster,” said Hoyt. “Now we’ve only got about five or six more weeks before the grass stops growing. If we can get through the next five or six weeks it should be okay. Hopefully we will be allowed to continue.”
In the meantime, golfers are enjoying the course. “We are still experiencing quite a bit of traffic both from visitors and members,” said Hoyt, with numerous people adding their names to a list of volunteers who want to help in any way they can.
In an Aug. 31 Facebook post, Hoyt thanked Sid Young at the Pro Shop for helping steer the ship under the current conditions.
Young was at his desk at the pro shop that day handling calls and talking with major creditors. Golfers weren’t paying green fees, they were making donations. Supporters were calling from as far away as the United States. One man made a donation of $250 that Young said would keep the mowing going for four days.
Two golfers from the Digby area dropped in for a round and had no problem chipping in to keep the golf course open.
“I hope it can keep going,” said golfer Murray Ungurain. “I’m sorry to hear that it happened to the owners. I don’t know their situation but I’m hoping the course will stay open.”
He described the Annapolis Royal Golf and Country Club as an area landmark, something that was always there when he was growing up and going to school in Annapolis Royal.
“It’s a beautiful little course with nice views,” he said. Before last Thursday he’d played the course a couple of times already this year. He describes himself as a duffer and golfs to relax. “I like golfing here.”
He’s got a lot of feelings about the course.
“It’s nostalgic and it’s a comfort zone,” he said. “And it brings back a lot of good memories. I’ve golfed here with people who have since passed away. Those memories are all there.”
He also noted that people came to the club not just to golf but for the restaurant, wedding receptions, and other social events.
Plans are still to hold the ninth annual Tournament of Kings golf tournament fundraiser at the Annapolis Royal course on Saturday, Sept. 9 in support of nearby King’s Theatre. The dinner and awards portion of the tournament will be held Hillsdale House, said Janet Larkman, King’s Theatre general manager.
“The tournament is a major fundraiser for us,” said Larkman, adding the event receives amazing support from the community both in terms of sponsorship as well as volunteerism.
Hoyt said the association is also hoping plans for two more tournaments including the Chick Caldwell’s memorial tournament, and the Annapolis West Education Centre (AWEC) 2018 Grad fundraiser tournament will also be able to proceed.
With files from Lawrence Powell, The Spectator