Tag: #dorchesterranchgolfcourse

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 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.

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