For the rainiest city in Canada, Prince Rupert’s golf course has water problems.
The course’s new superintendent, Peter Drake, has been working tirelessly to improve the course, but broken sprinklers, lack of man power and accumulated wear and tear means it will take him at least 18 months to get it back up to par.
“It’s probably going to take a year-and-a-half, or two seasons, to get the course to where we want it to be,” Drake said.
Drake estimated that 25 to 40 of the course’s sprinklers need to be replaced due to either lack of maintenance or low-quality maintenance.
“A lot of the sprinklers were smashed and need to be changed,” he said. “They would just pool around the heads right now if we tried to run them.
“In some cases, they don’t throw water more than five feet.”
Drake said having a functioning irrigation system was critical to the golf course’s maintenance as it allows him to water fertilizer or seeding immediately after it is laid down.
“Mother nature helps us out, but it still becomes an issue,” he said.
Each sprinkler will cost several hundred dollars plus two to four man hours to replace.
Drake said another problem so far in the process has been finding quality and consistent staffing. So far, only Drake and another mechanic are working on the course full time, but he said they need more manpower to help with the upkeep and maintenance of the grounds and greens.
Fully functioning equipment is also a concern. Drake said there are several pieces of equipment critical for course maintenance — including seeding equipment and tractor attachments — that have rusted, seized and become non-operational after lying unused for several years.
“It’s a matter of rolling the dice with the equipment that’s been sitting as to whether or not it will work,” he said.
While some items do still work, Drake said he has put in orders for the equipment that needs to be replaced. Among them is an over-seeder, a machine that spreads seed more effectively by digging a small hole in the ground to plant the seed. Instead of spreading the seed over the surface of the ground, the machine protects the seeds from the elements or birds that might eat it.
Despite these challenges, Drake said he is still optimistic about the potential of the course and overcoming the challenges to improve it. He said he has received tremendous support from both the club’s membership and the public, and believes things are headed in the right direction.
“I think we’re making great strides and are headed in the right direction,” he said.