Lake Country’s only golf course will be missed as the Aspen Grove Golf Course is closing permanently on Nov. 1.
The nine-hole course, located on Bottom Wood Lake Road, was sold to the Central Okanagan Public Schools in 2013, and plans for the property include a new middle school and sports fields.
Golf course superintendent Rodi Gorrell has been maintaining the course for the last 10 years and said the course has operated in Lake Country since 1976.
Gorrell said he hoped the school district would keep a six-hole course.
“There’s a lot of courses in the States that are going from 18 holes to six holes and the reason for that is people don’t have the time for that anymore,” he said.
His biggest concern is the lack of things to do for families in Lake Country.
“Come tourist season, we have a lot of families from Alberta, Saskatchewan and it was just nice for a family of four to go out and enjoy their time, but at the same time that doesn’t stop anything else from coming in,” he said.
A lot of the members are also sad to see it go, he said.
“Some of these guys are out here daily golfing. They love their little course, it’s part of their routine, it’s something they can really afford,” Gorrell said.
Memberships for the course were $540 a year. The course had 18,000 rounds in a season, but last season had 14,000 due to the wildfires and the smoke, he said.
The golf course’s closure is not an usual pattern, according to Gorrell who has seen other closed recently.
“I’ve been in the golf course industry for over 30 years so of course you never want to see a track or course shut down… it’s just part of it. Back 50, 60 years ago people were loving it, they were popping up, within the last 20 years, you can’t just have a golf course without houses around it because it’s not profitable,” he said.
He said the rising cost of land has led to smaller courses with more developments around them.
“That’s how a lot of it works right now too.”
He hopes that one of the buildings can be used for a culinary program and part of the course could be used as a recreation centre.
The school board has been accommodating of the tenants already on the property, he said, which include a fitness centre and daycare. Gorrell will also stay and do maintenance around the property as per usual, he said.
Dori Hewitson, a resident of Lake Country since 1983, said she’s sad to see the course close.
“The few times my sons have taken me out here, it was a perfect golf course for me, and I just know that a lot of people use it, and I’m very sad to see it go. I know we need the middle school, but I just think is there another piece of property we could develop? It’s just so beautiful,” she said.
Despite the slated closure, school district secretary-treasurer Eileen Sadlowski said nothing has been decided yet.
The date previously announced for construction of the new middle school was in May 2019, however, Sadlowski said the first part of construction will be the new fields which will be built on the existing golf course.
The school district will be building two full-sized fields, but discussions have been ongoing with the District of Lake Country to potentially put in more, she said.
She said the school district is currently in the planning and development stage for the new middle school. According to Sadlowski, the board is also considering options on what to do with the space with the six holes, but that option isn’t completely off the table.
“They didn’t want to commit to any six hole framework right now,” she said.
Property tenants will continue to have leases on a month to month basis, she said. “We’ll give them a good heads up whenever that changes, but we’re not asking them to leave right now.”