Month: March 2020

Our Superintendent

Aidan Fitzgerald is a 29 year-old Golf Course Superintendent at Dorchester Ranch Golf Course, hailing from Toronto, Ontario, and has worked in the turf industry for 12 years. This is his 3rd season at Dorchester Ranch. He graduated from the University of Guelph in 2014, with Honors, majoring in Turfgrass Management. 

Aidan has been a part of a course construction and grow-in, and has managed athletic surfaces for the Toronto Argonauts and Toronto FC soccer teams. In addition, he has helped put on professional sporting events, including but not limited to: the 2016 and 2017 MLS Cup Final, the 2016 Grey Cup, the 2015 FIFA U-23 Women’s World Cup, the 2017 NHL Centennial Winter Classic, 2015 Rugby 7s for the Pan-American Games and the 2013 RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey, for the PGA Tour. Feel free to introduce yourself this year if you see him at Dorchester Ranch – he is always up for a conversation!

“The winter for a golf course superintendent can feel like a long one – especially in a climate like Central Alberta. With a relatively short golfing season, you must be prepared to hit the ground running in the spring. So, the winter season serves as an opportunity to do just that. The old industry adage is that the Golf Course Superintendent is paid half of what they’re worth in the summer…and twice what they’re worth in the winter. It is an important time to recharge your batteries, reset your priorities and re-energize yourself for a new season! Even though hours are significantly cut down in the winter (a typical Superintendent can average in excess of 60 hours a week in the spring, summer, and fall – and typically one third of that in the winter), there is a common misconception that the golf course goes quiet when the snow hits. That is not entirely true. I like to think of the winter season as an opportunity to do 2 months worth of work, in a 4 month time frame. It is the best time to use your freedom to spend with family, friends, travelling etc. while you can. Once the course opens, the Golf Course Superintendent spends the next 8 months on call: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

“November typically serves as an opportunity to slowly work through your work fleet. Equipment needs to be serviced. Oil changes on large equipment are typically done during this time frame. Golf carts need oil changes too! And the constant flow of traffic during the season makes that difficult. So, in November, all carts have their oil and filter changed, the air filters blown out, and the batteries disconnected and winterized. Next up are the mowers – blades sharpened, oil changed etc.”

We at Dorchester Ranch Golf Course are very thankful we were able to recruit Aidan Fitzgerald. He has been excellent at his craft, and has become an important part of the Dorchester Ranch “family”.

Golf and Covid-19

I write this today to post this tomorrow. It is strange that all of my opinions on this matter may change overnight or by mid-day today. Things are changing that quickly. That just shows the uncertainty we are all now living in. Everyone is concerned for their families, their friends, their businesses , their way of life. It is a very stressful time for everyone. I am thankful for all of the very important workers and volunteers who will continue to serve us as we move forward and get through this crisis. I am also thankful for our governments of all levels. We may not always agree with their policies or their principals, but they are all we have right now. Now is not the time for politics we need to be working together.

I encourage that if you need something, reach out to someone for help. If someone needs help consider helping them. Do not put your own safety or the safety of others at risk, but help when you can. Think of the people in your life that are single and may live alone. These are the people who may appreciate a phone call, especially with social isolation.

In the last little while I have noticed something. A feeling of closeness to my family, my friends and loved ones. A sense of community in the Pigeon Lake area. People caring for one another, looking out for one another. In such a terrible time, it is something beautiful, maybe even something we can hang onto. I have seen people talking about a “great reset” and that maybe things will be different when we get through this. Things may be different, but not without us as a community, a province, or a country doing what we need to. That all starts with me or you, helping someone, volunteering, serving, caring, loving, or generally doing what is right.

I guess the title is a little misleading. I have not talked about golf too much. Dorchester Ranch Golf Course hopes to open this Spring and we do have a safety plan that addresses Covid – 19. In one month if the circumstances are “right” we plan to open. We have a great deal of safety measures in place. The check-in process may be a little different, but I ensure your golf “experience” will be the same. More details will be shared as we get closer to opening. We will adhere to what our Provincial Government’s mandate dictates. If we are shut down, we will work hard to ensure our course conditions are “mint” for you when the 2020 golf season begins. We will be waiting for you..

The beginning

And so it begins. Such a grand statement for something I may very well struggle to do with regularity. But it is a start, and all journeys have to begin somewhere.

I write this as I sit in my Mom and Dad’s winter home in Mesa. My parent’s are the reason I have become who I am, and the reason I currently work in the golf industry.

Griff Jones Birthday

Gord and Lil Dorchester both came from humble beginnings. Lil was raised just outside of Ponoka daughter of Griff and Pat Jones. Lil would say that her upbringing would be focused on family and community centering around the Zion church. Gordie came from farming and cowboy roots. He would say his upbringing would be rough, tough, centering around the farm and the sport of chuck wagon racing.

Dorchester Family

Gord was heavily involved in the sport of chuckwagon racing during the summer months. He had worked as a jail guard, a stone mason, a cabinet maker, a carpenter among other things. Mom worked as a secretary, as a bank teller and raised 3 boys prior to beginning her career in the golf industry. For many of their early years, mom and dad were very poor and had to budget down to the penny. When they started their own business they made good use of these skills and were able to succeed in their business because of this.

Gordie took up golf relatively late in his life. His father in law started buying him clubs One by one over time. Eventually he and his friend Bob started golfing regularly. Grandpa Tom had given our family 80 acres of treed land close to the Battle River Valley. When dad started clearing the land in long narrow strips for farm land I’m sure people thought he was crazy. What people did not realize was he had a vision, a dream that would change our lives forever.

Dorchester Golf Club opened its doors to the public on August 17, 1986. Gord and Lil had taken a huge risk to start this endeavor. Beginning as a basic 9 hole golf course, it was only possible because of immediate and extended family labor, having an uncle who had a golf course construction business, as well as a large bank loan. My parents took a huge risk to follow their dreams. It is this entrepreneurial spirit that has built our country into what it is today.

And here we are, 32 years later. We have an 18 hole championship course that is beautifully perched on the lip of the Battle River Valley. Mom and Dad are retired, and myself, my brothers and our families are tasked with keeping the torch alit. At times it can be a heavy mantle, but I would not change it for the world.

Hole #9

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