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The Culture of Dorchester

We have a lot of fun at Dorchester Ranch.  When I look at the above picture it makes me smile.  It was taken at our neighbor’s son’s wedding.  The wedding  was at Whispering Spruce Campground, the people in the picture are residents at the campground, and are regulars at the golf course.  My Dad has his rally cap on, my wife in all her glory.  haha.  It makes me wish I was there.  I was there for the reception but my wife says I had to leave because of my “man cold”, sheesh.

The last few years I have been thinking about what a good group of people we have supporting our club.  It is ‘you’ people that create the atmosphere at Dorchester Ranch – Thank You.  I think that DRGC events are something you should definitely experience.  We have leagues throughout the week, which are drop in, welcoming of all skill levels and players.  We have a wide variety of tournaments from ultra competitive cash scramble’s to couple’s tournaments and everything in between.


COUPLE’S TOURNAMENT – We traditionally have our couple’s tournament mid summer.  We will play 9 holes scramble with our partner, and then have a fire and Karaoke after.  I have so many fun memories of that day it warms my heart.  Oh and the afterparty is pretty fun as well.


LEAGUES – All of our leagues are weekday only.  We believe we have a league or night to suit golfers of all types and abilities.  We hope to have Senior’s (50+) on Tuesday early afternoons.  It is a drop in, random draw scramble.  We have a good group of Senior men who are always welcoming.  Tuesday evening at 6 is our men’s night for all ages 18+.  It is drop in, random draw scramble.  Wednesday evening at 6 is Lady’s night.  Our ladies are fun and welcome anyone new.  We have incentives for first timers.   You can also play with a friend.  If you’re by yourself, we will random draw you on a team.  Our ladies play scramble as well.  Friday evenings we typically have our couple’s night. In 2020 due to the circumstances we did not play Friday evenings, but hope to bring Couple’s Night back as soon as we can.  We also have a semi competitive 2man match play scramble handicaped league.  These matches are scheduled throughout the year on agreed upon dates.  This league was very popular last year and I foresee more than the 20 + teams that we had.

About 2 years ago, I had a gentleman ask me about what sets Dorchester Ranch apart from other Golf Courses.  At the time I said it was our customer service.  He replied that everyone says that. It’s probably true, it’s probably what most service businesses’ would say if asked the same question, it’s what we strive for at a minimum.  Customer service was the easy answer.  But after having some time to think about it, the thing that sets Dorchester apart, is the Culture.  It is the experience.  Once you come to a tournament, check out a league, attend an event, it is hard to describe.  Once you make friends, or bring your friends to see the laid back attitude we try to encourage, you will understand.   The friends we make.  The experiences we have.  We have a great group of regulars at our golf course.  Everyone that I see at Dorchester Ranch is very welcoming and inclusive.  Anyone can be a part of this, if you choose.   It starts with a round, or an entry into a tournament, or you saying what the heck and dropping into one of our leagues.  Maybe you decide to buy a membership, or move to the area.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

THE HORNBUCKLE RYDER CUP – This is a fairly exclusive event that you need to be a Dorchester Ranch member to attend.  The last 2 years we fielded our best 14 men to challenge Black Bull Golf Resort to a 2 day Ryder Cup themed event.  All matches were match play.  We played 4 different 9 hole formats.  2 man Texas Scramble, 2 man better ball, 2 man scotch start alternate, and singles.  This has grown to be a very popular event that many people want to play in.  We have captain’s picks, and also a play off for the remaining spots on the team.  This upcoming year we may try to add a women’s division.  If this interests you and you are interested in trying out, get a membership in 2021!  Ask Kyle about our 1st time member discount that Dorchester Ranch Golf Course offers.

We are looking forward to the 2021 golf season. <——this link will help you sign up to our newsletter as a way to keep you updated.  You could also visit our Facebook Business Page @dorchesterranchgolf, or on Instagram @dorchesterranchgolf.  Getting outdoors, socializing a bit, getting some exercise, having some fun never sounded better then it does right now. XoXo.

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Spring is Here

This afternoon I was feeling sorry for myself. I think its because I have had too much time on my hands. It is nice that the weather is warming because I’m not sure how much more being in my house for weeks at a time I could take. I have a question for you. How many times can you do a project, wash a dish, clean your yard, binge watch Netflix before things start to get monotonous? I will tell you, about 3 weeks worth.

With it warming up I thought I would get out of the house grab a few golf clubs, a bucket of balls, my camera and tripod, and my Dad’s gator and go for a drive.

As I got down to hole 11 Dad’s gator started acting funny. It would start but was sputtering right away. The only way I could keep it running is by choking the crap out of it while I pumped the gas. I shut it off and could not believe my bad luck. I started to feel sorry for myself again. But then I thought, I was not going to let this circumstance get me down. I would walk back to my truck and take pictures along the way, trying to make the most of the situation I found myself in.

I felt bad because our Superintendent Aidan was going to use it tomorrow when he and the guys remove the tarps off of our greens. I also flashed back to the times when I worked for my Dad and would break something or do something wrong. I love my Dad, and he has mellowed a lot over the years, but ask my brothers he has not been the easiest boss to work for. ha ha.

As I made my way closer to my truck I opened my eyes and really took in what a beautiful evening it was. The temperature was perfect, the sun was starting to set, you could almost taste the fresh air. My annoyance at getting stranded, my boredom, even some of my worry started to slip away. Its amazing what getting out in open space and a little exercise will do for someone. One of the great things about living in Canada, is that we have a lot of open space available for us to use.

I made it to my truck and home, but as it gets later in the evening I am starting to think about how I am going to tow the gator in to the shop before my Dad gets up. Its probably an easy fix or at least covered under warranty, but I’m sure he will still give me a hard time. The joys of working in a family business I guess.

I saw something funny earlier today. Myself Aidan and Dad were working in the shop getting our Pro Gator going. When my Dad was moving his truck he decided he didn’t want to make ruts on the path by the shop and decided to “giver” up this hill by the shop. He ended up making worse ruts on the grass.. I looked at Aidan and said to him, ” You know, if me or you did that we would be in supreme shit”. So true. But Dad has worked hard to get what he has today. It is his show. He can do what he wants when it comes to his things. Much respect toward him.

Dorchester Ranch Golf Course looks to have wintered well, and we are very excited to begin work on getting our course in as best shape as possible to start the 2020 golf season.

I know we have a lot of customers wondering when we are opening. As you can see from the photos in this blog, if we were let, we probably would be opening this weekend coming up. My hope is that we get to open sometime in May. I would like to think for sure by June. But as you know, during this time it is hard to say things with certainty.

We appreciate our loyal customers at this time. Without you we could not operate. You are what drives our engine so to speak, and we would like to thank all of you for thinking of us during this time, or in the future. We are still here and we are thinking of you. We are planning and getting ready to open and can’t wait until that time.

The Dorchester Ranch

My Grandpa Tom and Grandma Joy’s original Ranch is “kitty corner” to the quarter that the front 9 of Dorchester Ranch Golf Course was built on. The original ranch is still in the family.

Grandpa Tom was born on May 11, 1911. He grew up in the Angus Ridge district south of Wetaskiwin. Grandma Joy Schantz was born March 22, 1916. she grew up in the Rosebrier area south west of Wetaskiwin. When they got married they lived in the outskirts of Wetaskiwin briefly before moving to Canmore where Grandpa secured a job Coal mining. Eventually Grandma and Grandpa moved to the Pigeon Lake area, where they would live for the bulk of their lives. They bought the original house and quarter, that is pictured, from Carl Fiveland. Tom started racing chuck wagons professionally in 1944. For many years he drove the Jack Sheckter wagon and later the Stewart Ranches wagon. There were times through out the years that when they traveled long distances to race, the kids would stay home at the Ranch for sometimes a week at a time. There was a large age gap in the siblings, so some of the older sisters would be in charge and they would be looked in on by helpful neighbors like Ruby Gist. It seemed like kids grew up a lot quicker back in those days. You can just imagine some of the trouble these farm kids got into over the years. You know what? They all turned out to be good people with good morals and a great deal of character. It is remarkable how times have changed. It makes you wonder at times, if we have went too far the other way when raising our kids.

Top Row – Dallas, Denis, Joan, Gordie, Gary
Bottom Row – Sharon, Tom, Joy, Joan

The Dorchester side of our family is very close and connected. While growing up, all of my Aunts or Uncle’s have lived in the Pigeon Lake area. Currently there are 2 brothers and 2 sisters living within a 15 minute drive of each other. We still get together as a group fairly regularly, and with cousins and second cousins our family gatherings can get quite large. It is wonderful to think, that if my Grandma and Grandpa were alive, there would be 5 generations of family in attendance. Something I love about my family is they are story tellers. I have heard many of my Dad’s stories and some of them have really stuck with me and I marvel at they life he and my aunts and uncles had growing up. Here is one of those stories.

The summer of 1955 was a cool and dreary season. During this time the brothers ranged from 9 to 14. It was on one of these days that my dad Gordie and his brothers Gary, Dallas, and Dennis set out on an adventure of sorts. You see, their Dad Tommy had bought some dynamite at an auction recently and the boys knew where he had hid it. Tom was chuck wagon racing, and the boys had spotted a beaver dam down on the battle river approximately 5 km away. They set out in the morning excited, nervous at what the day would bring. When they got to the beaver dam they took a pry bar and made a hole in the dam and dropped 2 sticks down the hole. Somehow Gary had found out how to wire up the caps and so they got everything ready strung out a fuse and hid behind a willow bush. They lit the fuse and, nothing. Assuming that they wired it wrong a few of the boys decided to go and look at their wiring job. They got about 1/2 way back to the damn and BOOOM it exploded. Gordie said the ground of the beaver damn raised a good two feet with the explosion and debris was scattered throughout the area. The boys agreed that Tom could not find out about this, and they kept the secret. At least until they were grown when inevitably this story came out, too late for Tom to be mad. He just smiled and shook his head.

Support Local

The amount of impact the Covid – 19 crisis will have on our economy will be unprecedented. Many of our business are being affected greatly. It is encouraging and uplifting to see how businesses are adapting and changing to try to respond to the crisis. The sad thing is we do not all have the means to respond in creative or necessary ways. I am calling on all of us as consumers, to support our small and medium sized business during this time, and to try to support local.

You may ask what supporting local might look like. People are not wanting to leave their homes for the necessities, why would they leave to buy a golf pass or a retail item. Many businesses that are remaining open, are taking payment online or over the phone. These same businesses are being creative in how they deliver their services to you. So, if you can afford it, buy a gift card from your favorite store. Buy a gift card from a golf course. We will overcome this crisis, but small and medium size businesses need your help to come out on the other end.

Dorchester Ranch Golf Course is a seasonal business. The weather is such that in central and northern Alberta that even if we wanted to, we cannot be open due to snow. In southern Alberta courses are opening or open. We hope that the diversion from the monotony of today’s reality brings our customers a positive experience that may serve to make it easier for them during this time.

Some people, due to the circumstances of businesses and Covid, cannot afford to support businesses. We need to be kind to each other be supportive of each other. Don’t be afraid to come forward if you need help or offer help if you think its needed.

I believe it is important to remain reasoned and calm at this time. Some information being passed around is incorrect, or partially true. That is why I believe we need to put our trust into our provincial governments right now. Let them be our voice of reason. All politics aside, we need to respect what they say and minimally adhere to what their recommendations are. Ultimately, many businesses are staying open by changing the way they do business. They are following the strict guidelines that the Alberta government have given us, and still providing their unique services to customers. How do you know what these guidelines are? Go to the Alberta Government website If you are looking for a place to see what type of aid you or your business may qualify for go to our local Chambers website

Dorchester Ranch is now asking for your support. We ask that if you were thinking of purchasing a golf membership for the 2020 golf season to do so now. If you were thinking of buying a 10 pass punch card, we can accommodate you. Even if you were thinking of playing a few rounds at Dorchester, we can make that happen with a gift card. Currently we have no way of 100% knowing, between weather and the on-going crisis the exact date that we will be able to open to the public. In the meantime we will be working behind the scenes to ensure that we are ready to go as soon as we can. Greens and Fairways still need maintenance and your support will enable us to do this.

For info or if you have any questions please contact Kyle at 780 312-9284.

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..

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