St. Marys, Ontario - The St. Marys Golf & Country Club (SMGCC) is focused on continuous reinvestment through on-course improvement into the 150-acre golf course located in St. Marys, Ontario, located only 30 minutes from London, Ontario. And this past golf season was no exception - SMGCC invested nearly $40,000 major changes into the golf property, including a number of significant changes, summarized as follows:
- Hole #3 - replaced one green-side sand trap with two sand traps and replaced an approach-area sand trap,
- Hole #4 - added drainage,
- Hole #5 - added drainage,
- Hole #6 - added drainage,
- Hole #8 - added drainage,
- Hole #12 - replaced one green-side sand trap with three new sand traps and replaced another green-side sand trap with a fairway-cut landing area,
- Holes #2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 13, and 17 - significant clean up (and cut back) of trees and also removal of damaged trees, and
- Irrigation repairs and additions to a number of bridges and holes, throughout the golf course
SAND TRAP IMPROVEMENTS RESULT IN BIG BENEFITS
Three years ago, ownership elected to make significant improvements to sand traps, by overhauling its greenside bunkers, throughout the golf course. With the recent changes, the renovations are over 80% complete, with only three holes remaining. General Manager and Director of Golf, Matt Staffen, comments, "While most other golf courses are focused on cutting costs and lowering their maintenance budgets, including eliminating sand trap maintenance, we are heading in the opposite direction, focusing on continual reinvestment back into our key assets." He adds, "While GolfNorth attempts to modify the rules of golf, by implementing a Lift, Rake, and Place sand trap policy, we believe in preserving the true foundations of golf, by improving and maintaining our sand traps, for improved playability." Golfers will be able to trust their shots out of the new bunkers, with renovations including added drainage and higher quality sand.
DRAINAGE REQUIRED DUE TO DAM MISMANAGEMENT
After experiencing significant damage and course closures due to mismanagement at the Wildwood Dam & Reservoir in recent years, the SMGCC board of directors elected to invest $15,000 into added drainage throughout the lower-lying areas, in 2019, including Holes #4, 5, 6, and 8. "The drainage will allow the golf course to drain faster and return to proper playing conditions, much sooner than it did previously," says Rob Cuncic, who handles the renovations for SMGCC. "I look forward to counting the number of days that this saves (SMGCC) golfers in future seasons!" he added.
SMGCC has partnered with Rob Cuncic and his team for the golf course improvements. They have done work at golf courses throughout Ontario, including Tarandowah Golfers Club and many others in the Greater Toronto and London areas.
TREES GET A HAIR CUT
If that wasn't enough, SMGCC spent an additional $10,000 to remove a number dead and damaged trees throughout the golf course, leveraging the services of Conservatree, out of Ilderton. While some of the trees removed had lived a 'good life', Matt Staffen added, "Sadly, many of the trees removed were due to the damage caused by the flooding by Upper Thames." Fortunately, the SMGCC ownership team and several local municipalities in Perth County have an upcoming meeting planned with the Ontario Environment Minister, regarding the ongoing issues.
However, the golf maintenance crew wasn't done there, spending a number of weeks, throughout November and December, cutting back trees, which will result in significant improvements to pace of play and overall experience. "Over a hundred trees received a 'hair-cut' this offseason, with the lower-lying branches of many trees being removed, which will mean faster play and less lost golf balls!" commented Sandy Fifield, Head Superintendent.
THE SEASON AHEAD
The St. Marys Golf & Country Club ownership group plan to make further investments into the golf course in 2020, by replacing and adding more sand traps, in addition to adding further drainage. The management group looks forward to sharing this exciting news with its golf members and green fee players in the coming months.