Category: Dorchester Ranch Golf Course

And That’s a Wrap

I would like to start by thanking all of our customers that visited us this year. There were many changes to the way we operated this year. I was so happy at the response that you, our customer had during what has turned out to be a really challenging year for all of us. Thank YOU.

I love working in the golf course industry. There is something about how the seasons go that I have really learned to appreciate, and at times suffer through. I grew up “working” for my Parent’s at the golf course. I was probably 14 when they started building it. As a teen I wasn’t the hardest worker. I was more worried about socializing while I was in high school. When I graduated I spent about 7 years in Post Secondary, finally settling on a career with Catholic Social Services. I worked as a Rehab worker in Group Homes, and as a Program Coordinator. I still remember getting the call while sitting in my office at CSS. Mom – “your Dad got hurt at work”. Me – “Oh My God, is he ok?” Mom – “He hurt his leg, got pinned by the tractor”…

He was lucky that Trever Soosay was working with him or it could have been a lot worse

From that point on, there was no turning back for me. We had just built our back 9 and my Dad was superintendent, so while he was laid up I took a leave in order to help my family out. The leave turned into a resignation and the rest is history. Over the years I became more involved as our Superintendent as well as the General Manager. As I stepped forward more, Mom and Dad saw they could trust me to take the reigns. I am currently the GM and we have hired Aidan Fitzgerald, a very smart man who knows his stuff, to be our Superintendent. I am very thankful for Aidan as it allows me to focus more on doing the things I love about the job – the people.

I have spoke about the challenges of working in a family run business. In my experience there are good and bad that come with it. In my family, my Dad had a hard time accepting a change in the balance of power. Don’t get me wrong, this is his baby, he is the creator and owner of our Summer Playground. That is why I took 1 minute to find a diplomatic way of writing what I did 2 sentences ago. haha. But there are also benefits. I feel that now I can pay my parents back for all the crap that I put them through growing up. By taking care of their legacy I am trying to honor their vision, their dream.

My youngest son Kael helping drag the sand into the profile of the greens 🙂

This year at Dorchester Ranch Golf Course, I learned that I should not be a course marshal. I should have known this from stories I hear about my Dad yelling at people jacking around on carts or kicking people off the course. There was a 50 year old gentleman recently who sheepishly came into the clubhouse. He seemed nervous and when I started talking to him he had been kicked off the course by dad 25 years ago for abusing golf carts. This gentleman is now a teacher and is older than I am. He was worried that my Dad may recognize him and give him a “blast”. As a business owner it is hard to not take damage to property or business personally. This year I found myself following in my Dad’s footsteps in not a good way, so I retired myself from Marshalling. If something goes south I tend to get angry and odds are I will say or do something that I will regret, so I will leave it to the professionals.

By having a small family business, your entire life plays out on a stage. The good, bad, and ugly all on display for everyone to see. Its not all bad though. Most people are respectful and genuinely good people. My entire family feels so lucky to have met the people we have. The memories and bonds that we have formed will last a lifetime.

Gordon Dorchester cutting 10 fairway before back 9 was open.

I’m going to tell you a story about my Dad and I. I feel I have to qualify what I’m about to say because if you don’t know me or my Dad, you may not realize that hours or day’s later we could laugh about these things that happen. I had a plan, we were verticutting and topdressing greens. We had 2 sets of reels, a dull set and a mostly sharp set. We don’t have a grinder so we hire our sharpening out and it can be quite expensive to sharpen reels. My plan was to verticut and cut with our decent set of reels as to not dull them too bad then top-dress, brush, water, and put the dull reels on the greens mower for the next couple cuts. Hoping to get the sharp ones on by the weekend. All I remember is Dad drove up to 11 green in his cart while I was verticutting or topdressing. I had a plan, everyone knew the plan, and it was going good. He wanted to change the plan. We got to arguing and I jumped on the front of his cart so he wouldn’t drive away. He floored it and I slipped off landing on my back. KA-THUNK KA-THUNK was the noise the tires of the cart made as they ran over my legs. I lay there for a moment in shock looking at the cart speeding away, my Dad looking back at me with a sly smile on his face. I cannot help but find some humor in this as I tell this story. No one got hurt. It is a funny memory. Sometimes though, I wonder if the guy on 13 Blue tee saw what happened…

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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