The golf course at Campbell River Golf & Country Club on Canada’s Vancouver Island is on schedule to open next month, as major remodelling work by Northern Golf Design approaches completion.
The course lies on the site of the former Sequoia Springs course in the city of Campbell River, and the remodelling follows a change of ownership from one local family to another.
“The Mailman family’s intention was to give the people of Campbell River a facility they could be proud of,” said golf course architect Corey Black, who works alongside Graham Cooke at Northern Golf Design. “We knew the first time we walked the property that, based on the Mailman family’s vision, there was not much that would be saved other than some of the golf corridors, including as many of the sequoia and western red cedar trees as possible. An additional 15 acres of land acquired on the west end of the property helped as this was a tight property to try and add a top-notch practice facility to, as well as keep 18 holes.”
The property was purchased in February of 2017 and the entire process of planning, environmental protections, obtaining permits, shaping, sandcapping, drainage, installing a new Rain Bird irrigation system, finishing and grassing has been completed in little over a year. “I’m pretty sure in one of our initial meetings about this golf development, when we warned the owners that the process would take approximately two years, I heard ‘we’ll see about that’ being whispered. The Mailman family is well-versed in construction, to say the least.”
The routing has changed considerably, with only four of the original holes left in their previous locations. This was primarily to increase the overall safety of the golf course, but also reduces walks between holes.
“There used to be quite a few long walks between holes and on one occasion you even had to cross the fairway of one hole to get from the green to the next tee. And after the fifth, golfers used to have to walk all the way up a severe slope to the next tee.” By adding a new par-three sixth hole, using fill to create a new green set into the hillside, golfers no longer have the long walk from green to tee. “The backdrop for this hole is a large rock water fall which has a sitting area at the top which golfers are sure to check out on the way to the seventh tee,” said Black.
The parkland-style course is now 6,141 yards and a par 70, with carefully placed bunkering and large, challenging greens. “We really wanted to provide the community with an enjoyable experience, however golf course’s degree of difficulty will largely be decided by the person placing the pins in the morning,” said Black. “Each green has at least one location which will challenge even the most experienced golfer. We transplanted many of our favourite trees and flowering trees are continually being added to the already gorgeous landscape.”
The fifteenth hole is the start of a closing stretch where Black believes pars will be a good accomplishment. “We had some fun and decided to make a bold statement as we start to head down the stretch. The large pond will be stocked with trout, which seems appropriate when you are in the fishing capital of the world, and the bunkers and beach bunker will give errant shots a slightly easier recovery than the water would.”
The redesign has made room for a driving range and short game area, a priority for the owners from day one. “This was not easily accomplished as the width of the property heading into the clubhouse was barely enough for returning nines, never mind a driving range,” said Black. The solution was to take driver out of the players hands and make holes nine, ten and eighteen par threes. “Everyone was fine with this but we wanted to make eighteen an exciting finish,” said Black.
“We talked about an island green but very quickly concluded that most golfers do not want to play an island green on a daily basis. We came up with the concept of having a green that could play like an island green at the back portion and the front portion would be much more accessible. I even suggested they keep two flags in and let the golfers decide from the tee which green they want to play.”