Highwood course back on track after flood

Golf: Foothills links are in near full swing

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 06:00 am

Trigg Slonski tees one up at the Mountainview No. 1 at Highwood Golf and Country Club in High River. The Highwood course will open for the first time since June 20, when golfers tee up on April 30.
Trigg Slonski tees one up at the Mountainview No. 1 at Highwood Golf and Country Club in High River. The Highwood course will open for the first time since June 20, when golfers tee up on April 30.
Bruce Campbell/OW

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What a great save from a natural hazard.

The Highwood Golf and Country Club will have a new look, when it opens today (April 30) for the first since the then 27-hole course was slammed harder than a Bubba Watson drive from the June 20 flood.

The course will open on nine holes, the full Mountainview nine-hole track. The Heritage nine will open in mid-May, making it a full 18-hole course.

The opening is a pleasant surprise, according to assistant pro Trigg Slonski.

“I was one of the first guys back in here after the town opened up and I was digging up the greens,” Slonski said. “If you would have told me we would be able to open up in early spring, I would have told you, you are crazy.

“Overall, it’s very positive.”

However, the flood has meant the closure of the Spitzee nine, the oldest portion of the course, which opened in 1958.

They are not taking a Mulligan with Mother Nature – Highwood members know what she can dish out. A newer, bigger berm has been created to protect the course.

The berm will run between Heritage 4 and 5, cut through the former driving range to about 50 yards of the clubhouse.

The berms are protecting a course, which is in good condition considering what it went through.

The early 2013 closure has resulted in the greens being in tip-top shape.

The 18 greens (Heritage and Mountainview) were covered in mud for 10 days after the flood, as a result there were no traffic or ball marks on them since June 20.

“The greens got a year off, which doesn’t happen very often,” Slonski said. “Yeah, they were under dirt for 10 days, but after that the first thing to be done was to clear the greens and then there was no traffic on them.

“There are few areas on the course, where there is silt, but for most players pace of play and the greens are no. 1 — and they are in great shape,” he said.

The club’s membership has dropped in the aftermath of the flood, at about the same rate as the number of holes.

“Overall we are still pretty good,” Slonski said. “We had just over 600 active members last year, and up to date we just have over 400. So we should still be pretty full, without having not enough tee times to serve everybody.”

The course has hosted many foothills area tournaments in the past. Highwood will continue to do so, despite being reduced to an 18-hole track. Modifications for major tournaments, such as the High River Rotary Club’s annual event, which used all 27 holes in the past, will be made.

The clubhouse, which opened in 2010, had some basement damage, but is fully operational. The restaurant was open throughout the winter.

“If we would have lost the clubhouse, there is pretty good chance we wouldn’t be talking right now,” Slonski said. “That would have been just too much of a hit for everyone to handle.”

To book a tee off time at Highwood Golf and Country Club call 403-652-3466 ext. 231.

All of the Okotoks and Foothills area courses are now open. Following is tee-off options.

Crystal Ridge Golf Course: Okotoks, nine holes, 403-995-5563, www.crystalridgegolf.com

D’Arcy Ranch Golf Course: Okotoks, 18 holes, 403-938-4455, www.darcyranchgolf.com

Turner Valley Golf and Country Club: 18 holes, 403-933-4721, www.turnervalleygolf.com

Heritage Pointe Golf Club, 27 holes, 403-256-2002, www.heritagepointe.com

Sirocco Golf Club, 18 holes, 18 holes, 403-201-5505 (Front nine only until about May 2), www.sirocco.ca


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