If you thought waiting several weeks for Christmas to arrive is nerve-wracking, try putting yourself in the shoes of Scott Bergdahl.
The head professional at Lakewood Golf Resort near Sylvan Lake has been eagerly anticipating the opening of their new nine holes for over a year.
And now with tee boxes, greens, fairways and bunkers all defined, the waiting game isn’t over but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train. He admits, the excitement has amped up.
“I think it’s safe to say I’m jacked right now.” That might be the understatement of the year for him.
“We had hoped to be open in August but sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t allow that to happen.”
His members have seen the new nine get closer to completion, designed by the Puddicombe Group out of Edmonton.There may have been a few wishing they could tee it up before the end of this season. Patience is a virtue they say and the team at Lakewood showed more patience than Mother Theresa.
Bergdahl says the feedback he has received is positive about the wait. Instead of a 2023 trial run, customers playing Lakewood next spring will get to see a course which is well designed and ready for traffic.
The plan calls for an integration of the existing nine holes with hole #1 of the original nine being the only one which remains the same as far as the number goes.
“So, holes number two through to seven will be on the new side and hole number four will be number ten and then 14,15 and 16 will be on the new side. So, everything will be re-routed, but it will be exciting because you’ll get a little bit of the old course mixed in with the new,” he said.
In addition to becoming an 18-hole golf course, the project added several RV sites to the already popular park which is so much of Lakewood’s identity.
A new driving range is also going in, across the road from the course entrance. This one will be minus the famous car in the middle of the range, but it departed with a great story to tell, said Bergdahl.
“We were standing by the range and some fellow hit a drive, hit the door handle in the right spot and the door popped open and about a thousand balls just came pouring out of that car.”
Bergdahl says all this hard work now allows Lakewood to welcome the core golfers in the area to take the course for a test drive. He added, the main group of players has always been the members and will continue that way. This just broadens the horizon.
“But our identity is very family friendly, solid customer service and we provide all the services that an 18-hole golf course would have when we were nine holes.”
This has been a dream of owners, Darcy and Sue Carruthers since Bergdahl can recall.
“I’ve been here for 16 years and that was the plan 16 years ago and now were finally getting there and we’re super excited for what lies ahead.”
This saga would likely make for a good book and Bergdahl says while he could scribble something out, Darcy Carruthers’ book would be much bigger and better.
One notable aspect of this transformation from nine to 18 holes includes an historic, first time ever angle for Lakewood.
“We’ll let the cat out the bag. We’re going to have our own club championship next year,” he said. “We have over 400 members here and they’ve been asking for it so now it makes sense.”
He added, they will do what so many other courses and have an Iron Man (Iron Person, to be politically correct now) tournament near the end of the year. This is where the course is setup to present the most difficult situations for golfers to navigate on all 18 holes from tee to green.
“As you saw (during our nine-hole tour) there are some pretty amazing places you can put a flag stick,” said Bergdahl.
Those new greens are not much bigger than the original set, but Bergdahl says they appear larger and have more undulations to mess with a golfer’s mind. Add to that the fact the new holes are more a links-style (very few trees to knock down a wayward shot) in comparison to the original, players are in for a solid golf experience.
The new Lakewood will be a par 72 which measures out at just over 64 hundred yards from the tips, middle tees around 61 hundred yards and 52 hundred from the forward tees.
Golfers will just have to hunker down, deal with an Alberta winter and come spring, it will be like Christmas and Bergdahl can unwrap this gift.