Pheasantback undergoing revival

Despite the snow and cold, Ken Graham is thinking about golf.

Despite the snow and cold, Ken Graham is thinking about golf.

Specifically, the manager of Pheasantback Golf & RV Estates is pondering how the course northwest of Stettler might attract players from the surrounding area, as well as from Edmonton and Calgary, and even overseas.

Stettler lawyer Gary Grant purchased the property last summer after the previous operation — Pheasantback Golf and Country Club — went into receivership in the fall of 2012. Since then, Grant has joined forces with an adjacent property owner who wants to develop a trailer park on 40 acres to the west.

“The two fellows are combining their properties,” said Graham. “Both realize that in order to make a good viable solid operation they both need to be up and running to complement each other.”

On the golf side, that means getting the 18-hole course into shape for the 2014 season. In addition to showing the effects of a year of non-use, the greens, fairways and remainder of the property are suffering from a longer period of neglect.

“There was a lot of deferred maintenance over the last five years,” said Graham.

But other, more significant changes are planned for Pheasantback, he said. These includes making the course more inviting to casual golfers.

“We know we have immediate area clientele that won’t even come and play just because of the difficulty of the course — or what they perceive as difficult.”

With water coming into play on 15 of the holes, and some tee boxes requiring players of all skill levels to hit over water, the course is intimidating, acknowledged Graham.

“It’s a real straight-shooter’s course.”

Alterations, which began last summer, have included trimming back vegetation to open things up.

“We attempted to make the course substantially more friendly for beginner and average golfers,” said Graham.

“We’re striving to be known more as a community course.”

That includes developing league play for men, women and juniors. But the course will also continue to welcome tournaments, added Graham.

Food service at the clubhouse will be upgraded, he continued, and the golf-related facilities may be expanded. For instance, Pheasantback’s aquatic driving range, which has proven inadequate for long-ball hitters, may be restricted to iron use and a longer driving range developed on the adjacent land, said Graham.

Also contemplated are other training features like chipping greens, practice bunkers and pitching holes. Such facilities would be ideal for training, he said, and perhaps even for golf camps.

“I’ve already spoken with one entity from Korea, with a possibility of interest in sending Korean juniors over.

“I think it would work well as a training course, even globally.”

The immediate plan for the adjacent 40 acres is to develop a recreational vehicle park, with rental lots available with partial or full services.

Other recreational opportunities, including trap shooting, are being considered, said Graham.

Pheasantback actually reopened on a limited basis last August, which pleased some former loyal players.

“The clientele was extremely patient and co-operative — just excited and happy to see something happening,” said Graham.

Tim Fox, chief administrative officer with the County of Stettler, said the municipality is pleased.

“It’s great news for the county to have the business being taken over by new owners and providing economic development for the area.”

Graham said it’s important the course wasn’t allowed to deteriorate further and perhaps even revert to pasture.

“You’d never get another one. Nobody’s going to put that investment up in the country.”

The golf course requires no further approval from the county to operate, said Fox. The RV park, however, must still be OK’d.

Opened in 1995, Pheasantback Golf and Country Club hosted a number of provincial amateur and professional tournaments before being forced to close last year.

It’s been popular with many seasonal residents at nearby Buffalo Lake, said Graham. These, and other golfers, should be able to tee it up at Pheasantback Golf & RV Estates this spring, he said.

“We’ve got a good program in place and it should look pretty fine come next season.”

Membership and green fees are still to be finalized, with these part of a broader budgeting process, said Graham.

Grant recently asked the county for a break on Pheasantback’s 2013 property taxes, and has appealed the land’s assessment. Fox said council will consider the tax abatement after the assessment appeal has been completed.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Suncor logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 2, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Suncor Energy and Atco working together on potential hydrogen project

Atco would construct and operate pipeline and hydrogen storage facilities

Colonial Pipeline joue un rôle de premier plan dans le transport de l’essence, du kérosène, du diésel et d’autres produits pétroliers du Texas vers la côte Est.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Pipeline officials hope most service will be back by weekend

Colonial Pipeline delivers about 45 per cent of the fuel consumed on East Coast

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves after holding a press conference in Ottawa on Friday, May 7, 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Health care providers, advocates cry foul over stalled action on pharmacare

Expert panel appointed by the Liberals recommended public pharmacare system

Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, tosses the ball for a serve to Ilya Ivashka, of Belarus, during the Miami Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
Canadian Denis Shapovalov books spot in second round of Italian Open

Shapovalov to face world Stefano Travaglia, of Italy

This picture provided and painted by Bob Dylan in 2020 is called “New York Subways”. The largest collection of Bob Dylan’s artwork ever seen will go on display later this year in the U.S. “Retrospectum” spans six decades of Dylan’s art, featuring more than 120 of the artist’s paintings, drawings and sculptures. Building on the original “Retrospectum” exhibition that premiered in Shanghai, China, in 2019, the new version will include new, never-before-seen pieces and additional artworks from a brand-new series called “American Pastoral.” (Bob Dylan via AP)
Bob Dylan artwork to go on display in the U.S. this year

‘Retrospectrum’ spans six decades of Dylan’s art

FILE - Seth Rogen appears at the “Motherless Brooklyn” premiere in Los Angeles on Oct. 28, 2019. Rogen is the latest to jump into the podcast world. He’s making a series for the Stitcher podcast company where he interviews people with unusual stories to tell. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
Actor Seth Rogen to tell stories in his own Stitcher podcast

Rogen to invite musicians, actors and comedians

Vancouver Canucks’ Nils Hoglander (36) scores on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit (30) during first-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Hoglander scores twice as Vancouver Canucks dump slumping Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Hoglander scores twice as Vancouver Canucks dump slumping Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Edmonton Oilers' Dominik Kahun (21) celebrates with teammate Connor McDavid (97) after scoring the third goal against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen (34) during second-period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadiens clinch playoff spot with single point, fall to McDavid and Oilers in OT

Canadiens clinch playoff spot with single point, fall to McDavid and Oilers in OT

Rory McIlroy tees off on the fourth hole during the fourth round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow on Sunday, May 9, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
McIlroy ends 18 months without winning at Quail Hollow

McIlroy ends 18 months without winning at Quail Hollow

Canada , left to right, lead Briane Meilleur, third Val Sweeting, skip Kerri Einarson, and second Shannon Birchard discuss strategy against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. Both of Canada's teams were shut out of the medals, marking the first time ever that Canada did not reach the podium at either the men's or women's worlds in the same season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Most Read