What makes a community special is its amenities and the people who live and work there. Every worker and every profession play a role in the building of a strong and identifiable community. No one is insignificant in their contribution, regardless of their position, as everyone plays a part and adds that special flavour, their specific expertise and their credentials that makes a city or town what it is.
Slokker Homes and the Lakeside ownership have their sights set on rezoning the golf course into 1200 units of condos, townhouses, apartments and single family residences at a time when Chestermere is already under a massive residential construction phase with over 1,000 acres of land currently being developed or zoned for residential use.
The thought of adding more acreage to this total, at the expense of losing Chestermere’s second most identifiable amenity, would seem ludicrous to even the most ardent land development supporter.
My point of this article is to illustrate and focus on the workers and professions that we stand to lose if Chestermere’s golf course is rezoned and lost forever.
First, we would lose our golf course chef who has served so many fantastic meals and banquets to tournaments, weddings and special functions for the residents of Chestermere and guests. He has done a tremendous job which I can personally attest to. Losing him along with all the restaurant staff, servers and summer student employees would be a huge detriment to our community.
Secondly, we would lose our course superintendent, who has served in that capacity since Lakeside’s inception in 1991. He is the one who has been responsible for maintaining that fabulous green space that you see as you drive into Chestermere . He creates the product that attracts 30,000 plus rounds of golf every year. He is the one who is responsible for hiring and providing jobs for 17 or 18 maintenance staff every year ranging from teenagers to seniors. Working on the maintenance crew is often a springboard and an inspiration for many to pursue a career in landscaping, golf course maintenance or just wanting to work outdoors. At least four of his assistants have gone on to become course superintendents in the Calgary area. Our course superintendent influences and touches so many more lives than most people may have ever considered.
Finally, we would lose our golf professionals along with the proshop and backstop staff. Every year, students apply for positions in the proshop and many of the younger, entry level employable students, apply for the backshop. Many of these students are receiving their very first job along with the invaluable employment experience. For many of the residents and golfers of Chestermere, it is their sons and daughters that are filling these positions gaining their independence and working skills that will eventually lead them to a successful career in their chosen field. The golf course provides that steppingstone. We as golfers also play an influential role in helping the young staff grow by how we interact with them and by our example. We all get a front row seat to witness their growth. We stand to lose all of this if we lose our golf course
What is at stake if we lose our PGA golf professionals? This of course, is a personal passion of mine and one I can speak to from personal experience.
One of the most important responsibilities as a Head Professional is the hiring of staff. During my career, I hired what would become some of the top performers in our golf industry including future Head Professionals and top industry sales representatives. So many young people got their first jobs and went on to become great successes. Looking back, so many careers and opportunities were realized by the chance of finding employment at a golf course.
As a PGA Professional we are given the honour to teach the game of golf to all ages and genders. I still run into some of the juniors and adults I taught and they always have a big grin on their face and often say thank you for those lessons you gave me. Today, we have 45 juniors members at Lakeside which is up from 2, just a few years ago. Yes, golf is back and booming and cool among the younger crowd. The juniors camps and lesson programs are all full and now we have a waiting list. Over 200 juniors are currently involved in our juniors programs. As great as our influence and responsibilities are with juniors it is no less among the ladies, men and senior golfers, we golf professionals teach and run programs for. All of that in Chestermere is gone if we lose our golf course and our golf professionals.
The next time you see a golf professional behind the counter or when you see them on the range teaching or with a group of juniors, ladies or seniors or walking to or from their car in the parking lot at 6 am or 11 pm, remember, this is who they are.
They have graduated from a University or went to College or have a Diploma in Golf Management.
They continue to upgrade your skills through on going continuous education courses and educational seminars.
They are an excellent golf instructor having completed the four levels of the Canadian PGA Teaching Certification Program.
They are a good speaker, listener and communicator.
They are a role model for all golfers from juniors to seniors.
They are an expert at organizing golf tournaments and leagues in every detail.
They know the rules of golf.
They are a businessperson, skilled at staffing, planning, marketing and administration.
They can properly fit someone for a new set of golf clubs or a wardrobe.
Honesty and integrity are as important to them as birdies and pars.
They are committed as an industry leader to improve and promote the game of golf, for all age groups, in your community.
In summary, if we lose our golf course in Chestermere, we will have lost our second most important amenity and identifiable feature that has been an attraction and a lure to our city for over 30 years. Many of our residents have built their future and retirement plans around Chestermere’s golf course and the lifestyle it brings, which will be lost forever. We will lose our chef, course superintendent and our golf professionals who are among our community leaders, mentors, role models and one of Chestermere’s leading employers. These community leaders influence, build character and touch so many lives. Why would we want to lose all of this?