Par for the course

As his hometown of Fort McMurray grew more harried and rushed, Todd Jurak decided his family needed a change of address.

Sylvan Lake Golf and Country Club pro Todd Jurak swings on the first tee at the club on Monday.

SYLVAN LAKE — As his hometown of Fort McMurray grew more harried and rushed, Todd Jurak decided his family needed a change of address.

“I wanted to come to a community where my kids could grow up in a very safe environment,” the Sylvan Lake Golf and Country Club director of golf said Monday. “Golf is my background, something I’ve been involved with for more than 25 years. When this opportunity was presented to me, I came forward.”

Jurak left Fort McMurray, where he was the executive professional at the Miskanaw Golf Club, and moved into his new job in May of last year.

“There are so many advantages to living here. You’re in between two larger cities and you’re just 20 minutes from Red Deer. Plus, you have the lakes and the camping spots and so forth,” he said.

“Fort McMurray is a great place and was a good environment to grow up in. But over the last five years it’s been really hectic with a lot of growth and demand, which stresses the service aspect of a golf club. You lose that whole customer service component. Here, it’s more laid back, although it does get quite busy on long weekends. But you can maintain your customer service by having access to different stores.”

While admitting that he seldom gets the chance to play the Sylvan Lake course, Jurak is a fan of the layout.

“It’s a little easier for the average golfer, a fun little track to play,” he said, in reference to the par-72 course that covers 6,367 yards from the back tees and features plenty of foliage and water on 11 holes.

“You have to watch out for our little fairway creeks with some of your approach shots,” he noted.

“The setting is very nice with the treed environment. There are some wider fairways but you still have to be accurate with your shots.”

The par-4 holes are relatively short, but the shortest of the four par-3s — No. 6 — checks in at 167 yards from the tips. The other three measure 176, 195 and 221 yards from the back tees.

“The par-3s are probably the biggest challenges on the golf course due to their length,” said Jurak. “All of the holes on the course are fun to play, depending on the day and which way the wind is blowing.”

The highlights of the golf course, at least at the present time, are the luxurious putting surfaces that have been superbly crafted by superintendent Mike Nowakowski.

“The greens are in incredible shape this year. Mike has done a super job,” said Jurak. “He did a great job of putting them to bed last year and they’ve come through (the winter) really well.”

As for the rest of the course . . . ,

“We have a bit of snow mould on the fairways and the teeboxes, but once we get some heat and the leaves start coming back on the trees everything will start to fill in,” said Jurak.

Course renovations are not planned for this summer.

“But in the fall we’ll look at some long-term planning,” said Jurak. “There are some issues out there that have been around for a few years that we’re looking at changing.

“A couple of holes, such as No. 4, hold water if you get a major rainfall, which we haven’t had this year. Those are spots that we need to look at and see what we come up with in terms of solutions.”

Contact Greg Meachem at gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

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