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Ponderosa golf development still on schedule despite blaze

Ponderosa golf resort general manager Douglas Goubault shows off some of the work done at Ponderosa that was unaffected by fire. - Doug Farrow
Ponderosa golf resort general manager Douglas Goubault shows off some of the work done at Ponderosa that was unaffected by fire.
— image credit: Doug Farrow

There will be little, if any, impact on the opening of the Okanagan's newest destination golf course after this week's Peachland fire ripped through five holes under construction at the new Ponderosa golf course.

The under-construction Greg Norman signature course was well on track for a summer 2013 opening when the fire hit on Sunday and worked its way through holes eight through 13, along Pin Cushion Mountain near the Coquihala Connector.

Aside from some tree damage, the fire won't affect plans for the course moving ahead.

"There is definitely damage to those six holes," said  Ponderosa general manager Douglas Goubault. "There was a lot of ground cover that was damaged and some substantial tree damage. But there wasn't as much damage as I expected."

At the time of the fire, only the first four holes on the course had been seeded and grass was growing. The other 14 holes, including the six that acted as a fire barrier, were rough-shaped and waiting for underground irrigation work to be completed before a layer of topsoil was put on and seeding commenced in the spring.

Goubault says there is plenty of damage to trees along the six holes that were affected but the actual design of the golf course was not damaged.

"Because of the way the holes are cut, there are trees on the slopes between holes but there is certainly no impact on the design, more just on the esthetics.," he said. "It's actually opened up the view in a few places."

The Greg Norman signature course replaces the old Ponderosa course and also includes plans for some 2,000 homes with a show suite set to open this month.

Goubault says early construction work on the course also included a plan around wildfire management interfacing and saw crews remove plenty of shrubs, debris and old trees in case the course was ever threatened by a wildfire.

No one knew it would be so soon.

"It's kind of ironic," said Goubault. "As we were clearing and building these benches for the holes to sit on we put a lot of recourses into getting the areas between the holes cleaned up to remove as much of a threat of wildfire as possible. So as much as the bench blocked the fire from moving up Pincushion Mountain the intensity of the fire was a lot less than it could have been.

Goubault also creditted the incredible work done by fire crews in battling the Peachland fire.

In the end the new Ponderosa remains online for a summer 2013 opening. Rough work will continue for as long as possible with seeding of the remaining holes planned for the spring.

When done the course will be fantastic,": said Goubault. Using bent grass for the greens and Kentucky bluegrass for the fairways and roughs, the course will play to 7,100 yards with a range of holes from a stunning 199-yard par 3, to an amazing forest-lined, 653-yard par 5 next door. Wrapping up the experience for golfers will be the 532-yard 18th hole, situated on a ridge running parallel to and offering spectacular views of Lake Okanagan.

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