Van­der­lip, new own­ers land at The Port

SPEC­TA­TOR GOLF

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - GARRY MCKAY Garry McKay is a vet­eran, award­win­ning golf jour­nal­ist and a former sportswriter with The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor. gar­rym­ckay1@rogers.com

It’s old but new again.

The Port Col­borne Golf and Coun­try turns 90 next year, mak­ing it one of the old­est golf fa­cil­i­ties in the Ni­a­gara Penin­sula.

It was tired and strug­gling, how­ever, un­til a new own­er­ship group pur­chased it from the mem­bers this win­ter.

That new group in­cludes Al­lan and Sandy Bill­yard and Nick Dur­bano, a name that will be fa­mil­iar to Hamil­ton hockey fans for his own­er­ship of the Red Wings Ju­nior hockey club in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

They con­vinced Tom Van­der­lip to come over from Penin­sula Lakes to be their gen­eral man­ager.

Van­der­lip, a Burling­ton na­tive, had been at Pen Lakes for 13 years, help­ing it de­velop a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the places to play and dine in South­ern Ontario.

“When we got here, the golf course was al­ready in good shape,” Van­der­lip said of Port Col­borne. “The su­per­in­ten­dent, Jay Ku­lak has been here 30 years and does a re­ally good job.

“This a neat, old, fun golf course, with small­ish greens.”

The new own­ers re­al­ized it was on the club­house more than the golf course where they needed to ex­pend their en­ergy and dol­lars.

In­stead of tear­ing down the ex­ist­ing old farm­house, which was built in 1895, and con­struct­ing a new build­ing, they used the bones of the old struc­ture and just opened it up in­side to pro­vide larger din­ing ar­eas.

A coat of blue paint and a white picket fence around the pa­tio gives it a nau­ti­cal ap­pear­ance, as be­fits a golf club that’s just a kilo­me­tre from Lake Erie and is named af­ter a bustling port com­mu­nity on the Wel­land Canal.

Van­der­lip says in its heyday, The Port had 750 mem­bers. That was down to 197 last year and he said it was tech­ni­cally zero when they took over.

“We have 350 mem­bers now,” he says, noting that there will al­ways been room for greens fee play­ers.

Van­der­lip says their play­ers comes from cot­tagers, many of them Amer­i­can. And from all over the Ni­a­gara Penin­sula in­clud­ing Hamil­ton, es­pe­cially the eastern parts like Stoney Creek where golfers find it less ex­pen­sive to play cour­ses down the penin­sula than to head to­ward Toronto.

Greens fees at the Port are $45 at peak times and $40 at non-peak times.

Van­der­lip says one of the fun parts of the new job for him is re­search­ing the his­tory of the club by look­ing in the at­tic where’s found old tro­phies and news­pa­per clip­pings.

“The course started as four holes, then went to nine and then 18,” he says.

Whole-in-one: Kevin Rose­neck aced the 144-yard sixth hole on the Gold Ea­gle nine at Chippewa Creek with a six-iron.

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