Kananaskis Country, AB (July 11, 2017) –
The colour green has made a welcomed return to Kananaskis Country Golf Course, with the first of the course’s two 18-hole layouts - Mt. Lorette – now fully grassed. This major restoration milestone marks the initial stage of completion for the Mt. Lorette course, signifying the nearing return of golf to the Kananaskis region after an absence of what will be five seasons.
For the course’s PGA Head Professional, Bob Paley, thinking of being back alongside golfers on the course he’s called his professional home for twenty seasons, he admits, is evoking all kinds of emotion.
“It’s pretty amazing”, says Paley with a wide smile.
“To stand here on the Mt. Lorette layout as it looks today, thinking that just twelve months from now they’ll be golfers enjoying this course once again, is incredible,” continues Paley, as he stands in a spot that just over four years ago to the date, was left completely destroyed when the Evan Thomas and Kananaskis Rivers breached their banks – forcing the course’s 30th season to an abrupt standstill.
What would follow from that fateful day was a momentous period of damage evaluation, consultation, and detailed planning to determine what would be the course’s future. Led by Darren Robinson, Kananaskis Country Golf Course General Manager, the team rallied together to keep positive and figure out a way to work towards a season when golfers would be back to play in Kananaskis once again.
“It’s been at times distressing, of course,” continues Paley, “as you consider what this course means to not only a team that calls Kananaskis home but to the many generations of Albertans that we’ve seen make the trip to play a round here, season after season.
This course has been a place to unplug, be challenged as a player, and spend quality time in Kananaskis Country. We know from our golfers that the course has been a place that’s been passed down from generation to generation, somewhere Albertans have counted on as their own. To now be so close to giving all that back, well, we’re just honoured to be a part of it.”
General Manager Darren Robinson shares Paley’s sentiment, as he reflects on the progress that’s been made to date, and the course’s nearing opening season.
“For me, this point in our restoration signals the future of Kananaskis Country Golf Course, and I look forward to seeing the many rounds of golf that will be played right here,” says Robinson.
He continues: “As a team, the restoration has been our focus for the past four years. We’ve together lived every moment of it, but despite the stress, the long days, the uncertainty of the course’s future, and the sadness of seeing desolate grounds where hundreds of golfers once played, it’s all been so unbelievably worth it.”
The final phase of Kananaskis Country Golf Course’s restoration will be completed over the duration of the current season, ready for the course to fully reopen to the public in 2018. The next stage in the preparation of the Mt. Lorette course will be the undertaking of some peripheral work, with the new grass also requiring some natural grow-in and maturation time.
As Kananaskis Valley’s only golf course, and located just a 45-minute drive from the Western outskirts of Calgary, the publicly-accessible Kananaskis Country Golf Course became a firm favourite with Alberta’s golfers since it first opened in 1983.
Lucille Senger, a born and raised Albertan now living in Calgary, is very excited for “the gem of Alberta” to return. Her forty years of golfing have seen her play courses in the Bahamas, Hawaii and other exotic locations, but for Lucille, Kananaskis was a trusted go-to for a round within spectacular scenery, and remained her favourite place to play close to home.
“I sure am relieved the course is coming back. For Albertans to have a world-quality course such as this for our own, now that’s special,” says Lucille.
When asked what it was about the Kananaskis course that kept drawing her back, Lucille answers, “It was always the splendour of it. The natural beauty of the mountains, you’re just awe-struck from every hole. It just takes your breath away.”
Although it wasn’t just the scenery that kept Lucille returning to play a round in Kananaskis.
“Although this is one of the best courses I’ve ever played, it was more than that, it was the friendliness; the down-to-earth, welcoming atmosphere I felt every time I played there. For me, having grown up on a farm in rural Alberta, that’s important.”
Lucille continues, “In my opinion, the courses of Kananaskis far surpass any I’ve played at, and I’m just thrilled we’ll have the chance to play there again. “
Kananaskis Country Golf Course is a 36-hole course in Kananaskis Valley, Alberta, Canada, consisting of two layouts; Mt. Kidd and Mt. Lorette. Government owned, and operated by Kan-Alta Golf Management since its opening in 1983, the public course – with its location in the heart of the Canadian Rockies’ Kananaskis Country – offers one of the most spectacular and accessible destination mountain golf experiences in Alberta.
Originally designed by Robert Trent Junior Senior, a well-recognized golf architect that was responsible for some of Canada’s most celebrated golf course designs, Kananaskis Country Golf Course is a welcoming course, that has long been a ‘home course’ for many golf-passionate Albertans. The 2018 golf season will see Kananaskis Country Golf Course not only mark its 35th
year, but open once again to the public, following its five years of closure – due to the course being very heavily hit by the fateful flood of June 2013, with all but four of its 36 holes left completely destroyed when the Evan Thomas and Kananaskis Rivers breached their banks. With the Kananaskis Valley region struck with over half the normal amount of annual rainfall in just two days, the 2013 golf season in Kananaskis was quickly brought to a standstill.
The immediate impact of the flood was felt on an economic and emotional level for many people who called the Kananaskis Valley home. For the golf course, 140+ employees had to find new jobs, damage had to be assessed, and the future of the World Class 36-hole golf facility was contemplated. During the balance of the 2013 golf season thousands of supporters came out to pay homage to one of their favorite golf courses, while thousands more sent support via phone calls, social media, and emails from all four corners of the world. A period of evaluation - in consultation with relevant partners - was underway, to fully understand the cost of the damage caused by what was Calgary and area’s largest natural disaster known to date. The future of golf in Kananaskis looked particularly uncertain during the summer of 2015, when the Government of Alberta halted construction on the course, as they sought thorough consultation on the viability of using $18 million from the disaster relief fund, in order to restore the course for the use of Albertans once more. However, the Government of Alberta reached the decision to approve the restoration of the public-course, and construction was able to commence to recreate the course for the use of Albertans.
The restoration phase, led by General Manager Darren Robinson, Head Superintendent Calvin McNeely, and PGA of Canada Head Professional Bob Paley, has seen a complete construction effort of the entire course. The ‘new’ Kananaskis Country Golf Course has been designed by golf architect Gary Browning, from Browning Design Inc., and will reopen to the public in 2018.
Prior to the forced closure in 2013, Kananaskis Country Golf Course hosted approx. 60,000 rounds of golf, with 85% of its golfers residing in Alberta.
For further information on Kananaskis Country Golf Course, the final phase of its restoration, for images, and all interview opportunities, please contact:
Kananaskis Country Golf Course Communications