The nine-hole layout had been tentatively set to open the season last Friday (May 5), which would have been a near record but was delayed because of some poor weather and the threat of a major downpour. As of this time no definite launch date has been set but it’s expected long-ball hitters will be on the scene within the coming two weeks.
Drover said on the weekend that although the course remained closed there had been a nice response at the clubhouse for membership purchases – most of them repeats.
Normally, new golfers are offered an opportunity to visit the course before making a commitment.
But the upswing in memberships began last year with the total growing from a low of 141 to 187. The junior list went from 19 to 43 and the goal for this season is 60 with the cost being held at $120, which would be the lowest in the country. It includes weekly lessons in July and August under the guidance of Judi McLellan.
Working with Drover are vice-president Steven Boorne, treasurer Ben Brown, secretary Jeremy Boorne, junior development Judi McLellan, games coordinator Janet Robinson along with Chris Chambers and Alan Atkinson.
The staff for the season has been completed and consists of course consultant Kevin Read with Peter Hicks and Tim Wheaton returning as course maintenance employees. Jason Strathearn will serve as financial consultant, with Sue Stokes returning as clubhouse manager, supported by student employees.
Drover says the club’s cash balance at the end of 2016 was $24,000, with a good portion of that used for start-up, taxes insurance and salaries prior to the beginning of play.
Course maintenance equipment and power carts were set by the board as priorities.
“We continue to replace old equipment, some with new and some with others new to us,” Drover notes. “We have a fleet of 12 power carts – four were purchased in the late ’90s and the remainder in the early 2000s. We purchased three new ones, leased another seven new ones and kept the best two from the fleet of 12 – another challenge resolved.”
He adds that the club added a website – golfsackville.com – and a Facebook page.
A good deal of general maintenance has already been carried out – the area around the fifth hole has been thinned out, cleaned up and the pond in that area was cleaned, while alders and related hazards were removed from the course. A new red front tee was added on the ninth hole.
Assistance has been received from ACOA and the town of Sackville. With $20,000 – half from ACOA, $5,000 from the Town and another $5,000 raised locally, further work will be carried out to resolve things like water problems on holes two and three and the safety concern on the front tee on hole number nine.
Drover has announced that any increase in membership will be held to $10 in spite of increasing costs.
The Sackville course was officially opened in 1910, making it one of the oldest in the country. There are six par fours, two par threes and one par five hole. When playing the back nine, one hole is extended, making it the second par five, eliminating one par four. The pars are 35 and 36 for an 18 round of 71.
The fairways are laced with rough, trees, water and sand, which more than make up for the relative shortness of the course, thus it isn’t often golfers can find themselves shooting in the lower 60s. The rolling fairways also create special problems, as it is not uncommon to face a downhill “lie” after hitting a huge drive.
In spite of all this there have been several holes-in-one recorded in recent years. A check of records show that the odds of a player making a hole-in-one are 12,500 to one, with the odds shortened for professionals to 2,500 to one.
With the course so close to the town centre, it is not unusual for employees to dash out for a few holes during lunch time – this is possible as tee times are not required – eliminating any delays.
So, with such an opportunity right at hand it’s expected the local “gem” will be abuzz over the coming five months with golf balls flying towards that little hole that measures just four inches in diameter.