THE EVO­LU­TION OF GOLF IN CAL­GARY

Cal­gar­i­ans have al­ways em­braced tee­ing up as a sum­mer pas­time, and with on­go­ing course de­vel­op­ments the game of golf is still in full swing.

Where Calgary - - CONTENTS -

Fore! Cal­gary's golf cour­ses have evolved over the past cen­tury, but now they're bet­ter than ever.

then

Mix­ing busi­ness with plea­sure on the course has been a long­time tra­di­tion—so much so that Cal­gary busi­ness­man founded The Cal­gary Golf and Coun­try Club in 1897 as a way to for­mal­ize their golf­ing re­la­tion­ships on no­madic cour­ses through­out the city. The Cal­gary Golf and Coun­try Club’s of­fi­cial course opened in 1911 and is still in use to­day, mak­ing it the old­est pri­vate course in Al­berta. Cal­gary’s Sha­ganappi Point Golf Course opened in 1915 as the city’s first mu­nic­i­pal course. “Peo­ple, ages eight to 98, from all walks of life. It was in­cred­i­ble how much they en­joyed play­ing Shag. That’s what made it spe­cial,” long­time player Jay Wil­son says. In the early days of golf in Cal­gary, cour­ses were typ­i­cally sandy, un-land­scaped plots— un­like the stun­ning green, tree-lined, land­scaped 52 pri­vate and public cour­ses in Cal­gary to­day.

A golf re­nais­sance in Al­berta be­gan with the fam­ily of Barry Eh­lert, now a man­ag­ing part­ner at Wind­mill Golf Group. Eh­lert's grand­fa­ther had a golf course in South­ern Al­berta that his son worked on— mow­ing the fields with a pull trac­tor—in the late 1950s. Want­ing to stay in the golf busi­ness, but not see­ing much op­por­tu­nity for golf cur­rently in Al­berta, he be­came a land­scape ar­chi­tect who de­signed about one dozen golf cour­ses through­out Al­berta. He then had the op­por­tu­nity to be a man­ag­ing part­ner, in­tro­duc­ing Boul­der Creek Golf Course and Sil­ver­wing Links cour­ses as his own.

now

Sha­ganappi Point Golf Course is cel­e­brat­ing its 100th An­niver­sary this sum­mer with spe­cial events and ac­tiv­i­ties through­out the sea­son. De­spite all the changes over the last 100 years, “what we never lost was the ‘fun’ fac­tor,” says Lisa Lanc­tot, the city's golf busi­ness de­vel­op­ment co­or­di­na­tor. “The par-68, 18-hole lay­out ap­peals to the recre­ational golfer who wants to spend time with friends and have an en­joy­able out­ing.” It’s a low-score, ac­ces­si­ble course where even in­ex­pe­ri­enced and ca­sual golfers can get into the swing of things. “It’s the 100th an­niver­sary of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity pro­vid­ing an af­ford­able, recre­ational op­por­tu­nity for Cal­gar­i­ans,” says Kyle Ri­p­ley, the city’s man­ager of golf course oper­a­tions. “Golf af­fords the op­por­tu­nity to get out and be phys­i­cally and men­tally ac­tive in a so­cial set­ting. It’s a won­der­ful game from that per­spec­tive.”

Over at the Wind­mill Group, Eh­lert con­tin­ued the fam­ily tra­di­tion of work­ing in golf by get­ting in­volved at the Boul­der Creek course, even­tu­ally grow­ing the Wind­mill Golf Group port­fo­lio to in­clude eight cour­ses—five of which are in Cal­gary—in use to­day. “We cater to a lot of cor­po­ra­tions, but there are cer­tainly a lot of in­di­vid­u­als and dif­fer­ent walks of life that golf ap­peals to," Eh­lert says. "[Wind­mill's five cour­ses] of­fer some­thing in the city that no one else can. We have very, very high end fa­cil­i­ties like The Hamp­tons Golf Club, and then cour­ses like Boul­der Creek Golf Course which have a less ex­pen­sive, daily fee. We know there’s a wide range of golfer de­mo­graph­ics and we put pro­grams to­gether so that peo­ple have flex­i­bil­ity with [the sort of course] they want to golf and how much they want to spend. That’s how golf has evolved for us: the scal­a­bil­ity of who we ac­tu­ally reach— we’re reach­ing a higher per­cent­age of ac­tual golfers be­cause we have more to of­fer them.” One unique part of Wind­mill's of­fer­ing are their flex­i­ble, multi-course mem­ber­ships. “The flex­i­bil­ity of our mem­ber­ships work with our mem­bers’ sched­ules and al­low them to play all of our fa­cil­i­ties, plus there are in­di­vid­ual mem­ber­ships, guest mem­ber­ships, and cor­po­rate mem­ber­ships that al­low dif­fer­ent peo­ple to use the pass." From a ge­o­graphic stand­point, Wind­mill's cour­ses are easily ac­ces­si­ble. “Spring­bank has a quiet ap­peal to it, it is a great fa­cil­ity for tourists and is a true pri­vate-public ex­pe­ri­ence. Sil­ver­wing Links has an out­stand­ing lo­ca­tion close to the air­port, and Boul­der Creek serves the south part of the city.”

Sil­ver­wing Links

Sha­ganappi Point Golf Course, circa 1925

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