Akokiniskw­ay golf course to host char­ity tour­na­ment for razed Fort McMur­ray club

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Kyle Smylie The Drumheller Mail

The Akokiniskw­ay golf course will be host­ing their an­nual Rose­bud Com­mu­nity Golf Day on Fri­day, July 8, and this year or­ga­niz­ers have cho­sen to do­nate all pro­ceeds to the Fort McMur­ray Golf Club, whose club­house and dozens of golf carts were de­stroyed in the wild­fires early May. Akokiniskw­ay owner Al­bert Clark said the dis­as­ter in Fort McMur­ray and the out­pour­ing of sup­port for the dis­placed there led or­ga­niz­ers to lend a hand.

“I know they’re in trou­ble there. I like see­ing a com­mu­nity giv­ing to an­other com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially those of the same pas­sion,” he said.

“It’s un­be­liev­able,” said Fort McMur­ray Golf Club GM Michael Gil­lan.

“Whether your postal code or prov­ince is dif­fer­ent, we still go through the same strug­gles whether it’s turf con­di­tions, a down­turn in the econ­omy, or what­ever.” Gil­lan said the club­house at his course was com­pletely de­stroyed by the wild­fires, but the club has been oper­at­ing out of a trailer since re­open­ing the driv­ing range to the pub­lic on June 10.

“Part of our goal was to get the com­mu­nity back into some sort of or­der. We opened to tons of fan­fair – peo­ple came down and told sto­ries about the fire and got away from their daily grind of bot­tled wa­ter and no homes and just came out to smash some golf balls.” Gil­lan said when he and his staff first saw the smoke of the wild­fires there wasn’t a sense of panic. Wild­fires hap­pen of­ten in the area, and the golf club is sit­u­ated on the op­po­site side of the Athabasca River. “We couldn’t see the width, depth, or mag­ni­tude of the fire, but there was smoke and soot in the air. There still wasn’t the sense that dis­as­ter was com­ing. We met at the top of our hill to do a head count of our staff. And it was like ‘OK ev­ery­body, take care and we’ll talk to­mor­row,’ think­ing it’d be a day or two un­til we were back to work. Two hours later there was a sense that this was way big­ger than any­one thought,” said Gil­lan. While none of his staff were hurt, he said a cou­ple em­ploy­ees lost their liv­ing spa­ces in the fire, but the PGA, Cana­dian So­ci­ety of Club Man­agers, and Cana­dian Golf Su­per­in­ten­dent As­so­ci­a­tion all stepped up and offered jobs to staff mem­bers who were dis­placed.

“Golf is a fra­ter­nity. We’re guilty by as­so­ci­a­tion. We live the pro­fes­sion and love it, and gen­er­ally golfers are good peo­ple try­ing to help out good peo­ple.”

The Rose­bud Com­mu­nity Me­mo­rial Golf Tour­na­ment is set for Fri­day, July 8 and starts at 9 a.m., and along with all day golf­ing in­cludes a tour­na­ment din­ner and a silent and live auc­tion. For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact the Akokiniskw­ay Golf Course.

All pro­ceeds of the Rose­bud Com­mu­nity Me­mo­rial Golf Tour­na­ment on July 8 will go to­wards the Fort McMur­ray Golf Club, which lost its club­house in the wild­fires that rav­ished the city in early May.

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