LACOMBE — Volunteers are the life blood of communities, including golf courses.
More than 60 members of the Lacombe Golf and Country Club rolled up their sleeves last fall and for a full month helped reconstruct the fairway on the par-5 12th hole.
“They helped with everything, from raking sod into place, to unloading things, handling heavy equipment, running errands and cutting sod,” said club manager David Clark.
“It was well organized and well done.”
The final price tag was $114,000. The project would have been far more costly without the volunteer labour.
“We followed the master plan and got a quote (from a contractor) in 2004. It would have cost $250,000 at that time. It would be at least that now and maybe a lot more,” said Clark.
“The volunteer labour and contributions of equipment and man hours from many companies, as well as the Town of Lacombe, was fabulous.”
The 12th fairway, prior to reconstruction, was an uneven, bumpy roller coaster of a playing surface.
The old fairway was infamous for its hollow dips — blind from the teebox — which collected water, and the unfortunate players who hit into those cavities were unable to see the green, let alone the pin.
“We needed to smooth out the contours of that fairway without changing the character of the hole,” said Clark.
“While we did that we replaced all of the irrigation on the hole, made it double row as opposed to single. And we added four bunkers, as well.”
The addition of the sand traps will make the 494-yard, dogleg-left hole a little more difficult for advanced players, Clark suggested.
“For the big-ball hitters, it might be just a bit tougher due to the placement of the bunkers,” he said. “It’s a risk/reward thing and I think there’s a little more risk than before.
“For the higher-handicap players, it’s going to be more of a fair hole for them. They are going to have places to land the ball where they have vision and a reasonable lie, which hasn’t always been the case.”
Roots from the large trees lining the fairway created bumps under the sod, which in turn left golfers with difficult lies.
“That was part of it, but not the major problem,” said Clark. “We needed to change the contours and we really needed to replace the turf.
“Now it’s just gorgeous, it really is.”
The 12th hole should be back in play by early June, he said.
“We have some cleanup and some touch up to do, along with a little work on the bunkers,” he said.
“We expect to open it sometime in the next two weeks and we’re going to have a grand opening at the time.”
While the No. 12 reconstruction was a large undertaking, Clark said the club will continue to work on improving the course.
“We’re going to do some work on the bunkers this year. We’ll see what we have room for,” he said.
“As with most clubs, it’s a monetary thing.
“We have room to do a chunk of them this year, and if we can do more we will.
“We want to get that cleaned up, and then the board, in conjunction with the membership, will finalize some priorities for continuing improvements to the golf course. We have some greens that need some work, as well as some tees. And we have some other holes that frankly also need to be done.”