With work underway to re-open the Aspen Golf Course in Lake Country, golfers in the area are hoping the quaint par three course isn’t just back for the short term.
Golfer Richard Issler said the golf community in Lake Country was ecstatic to hear news that Aspen would be re-opening for at least three more years thanks to a lease agreement between the Central Okanagan School District and Lorwal Golf and Turf Solutions, the new management team at Aspen.
Issler says in the short-term it will be great for the community to have Aspen back in operation, but he also said they hope these next few years will see golfers organize and fight to keep the course long-term.
“I’m totally excited and enthused about it,” said Issler. “It feels like a part of the community has been restored. I’m very excited about continuing this fight and getting more and more community support. Everyone was pretty upset that we were going to lose our golf course so I think there is a groundswell of support in keeping the course here.”
When the Aspen Grove golf course was sold to the school district last year, it seemed the course would close for good. However future plans to build a junior-middle school on the site and use the course for playing fields is still a long-term vision, so the school district opted to lease the land to a golf course management group until the lands were needed.
The school district and Lorwal have a three year lease deal that could be lengthened if plans for the new school are not approved and funded from the provincial government.
The new golf course manager is Richard Brower, who arrived at Aspen early this month and is on site working to get the course into shape to open at some point in early April.
One thing that was evident when Brower arrived at Aspen is that while the company will be able to get the golf course back up and running in as good as, or even better shape than normal, the clubhouse operations won’t be the same as before.
“The clubhouse was stripped bare last fall,” said Brower. “There was really nothing left for me to work with as far as running the clubhouse. We’re trying to get the shop ready and the office ready but what it means is we aren’t going to be able to do what was done before on the food and beverage side. There is absolutely no equipment in the kitchen or the bar.”
Brower said the new management team also won’t be able to open with a liquor license but will have some sandwiches and beverages offered when they open.
According to sources, the equipment was removed by the former owner, who sold the property to the school district, purchased Michaelbrook Ranch golf course and has been selling some of the equipment back Lorwal for use at Aspen.
There isn’t much leftover from previous years. Not only has the banquet room and kitchen been stripped of all chairs, tables, kitchen equipment and pretty much everything else, he also took the flag poles on the course, leaving Lorwal looking to replace many things.
“It’s unfortunate we’re not going to be able to duplicate the experience for the non-golfer here, not to the same extent,” said Brower. “It’s a challenge I’m dealing with. It’s an empty building and in some ways this is like starting over. We can do wonders with the golf course side but the clubhouse side of things our hands are tied. I think we will focus on trying to make the golf course as playable as we can.”
The proposed opening date has yet to be set as crews are working at the course to remove a lot of debris that was left on the course at the end of last season.
Superintendent Rodi Gorrell is back for another season and has been out with his crews working to get the course ready.
“It just takes time,” said Gorrell. “It’s been so cold. But it’s come through the winter very well. There is no disease. The lack of snow really helped. It looks good out there.”
Still golfers are happy that, at least in the short-term, their local course will be back up and running.
“Every time I talk to somebody and tell them who I am they are very glad to hear the course will be open again,” said Brower.
The new golf course phone number is 778-480-0062778-480-0062.