Sunday, April 06, 2008

"Tenth Hole Tower" Project Elicits Predictable Response at St. Catharines

It has been a very interesting year and a half at St. Catharines G&CC.

I've documented a couple of key proposals that have been shot down by the club's membership since January 2007.

First, there was the proposal put to the membership to look into purchasing a plot of land in Niagara-on-the-Lake, with the purpose of building a brand-new 18 hole course for the members and selling off our existing land to developers at a much higher cost. My first post, Intrigue at St. Catharines G&CC, talked about the intriguing proposal and my second post talked about the shareholders meeting, where architect Ian Andrew presented his routing plan for the new piece of land. My third post in this series, Shot Down!, discussed how this proposal was unceremoniously turned down by the membership after an official vote.

Late in the year, prior to our 2007 General Shareholders meeting, Andrew again made a presentation, this time discussing the work he did on the course's Master Plan and the work that was to take place over the next two years to improve our drainage, rework the bunkers and make some other needed changes. Much to my dismay, this proposal was also turned down and I documented my thoughts in this post back in December.

You can just imagine what some of our more sensitive members were thinking when this email was sent out last week by our club president:

I am very pleased on behalf of the Board of Directors to announce that a new development has been proposed to build a luxury high-rise condominium tower on our property in the proximity of the current 10th tee. Access to this development will be provided by building roadways through real estate that has been acquired leading from Highland Avenue.

Some highlights of what some are calling the new “Tenth Hole Tower”:

· It will be the tallest building in St. Catharines, ten floors higher than its cousin, the Port Dalhousie Tower, providing a magnificent view over the entire city.
· Net proceeds from this development have been conservatively pegged at $46MM of which $13MM will be invested in rebuilding the current Clubhouse.
· These funds will also allow us to address age old member concerns and reduce the monthly minimum F & B spend to $10 per member.
· Annual golf dues are expected to be $800 per year for the foreseeable future.
· Upper floor units will be offered to the public starting at $1.7MM per unit and current SCGCC Members will be offered priority at a 20% discount.
· The first floor of the new building will be dedicated to a new Pro Shop, below ground cart storage, workout room and six lane bowling alley.
· The golf course will undergo a major re-design with the 10th Hole becoming a short Par 3 with an island green and extensive improvements to Holes #9 & 16.

Clubhouse Manager, Jeff Germond:
“A fabulous plan that will enhance our ability to continue offering great programs to our members. This will help us expand and renovate the curling lounge and implement some new restaurant ideas. I’m seriously considering moving my own family into a lower floor unit in the Tower so that I can be closer to work.”

Director of Golf, Kevin King:
“I’m excited about the new course routing changes, the spectacular 10th Hole, and very pleased that my staff will be moved into a new state-of-the-art Pro Shop (with heat)”.

Grounds Superintendent, Dennis Piccolo:
“This is going to be a challenging project, but this is exactly what we need to address drainage issues and water supply on the West side of the golf course.”

Administration Chair, Alan Ralph:
“What more can I say? Finally a plan that is an absolute slam dunk – a true no-brainer!” Now that I’m retired, I really look forward to working on both my golf game and bowling with all my retired friends.

Local Resident:
“This is an improvement for me. I won’t have to look at those hideous driving range nets anymore.”

During the next few months we encourage and welcome input from the membership. I expect we will pickup some additional ideas as the plan evolves, especially suggestions on exactly what we should do with this new project!


I think I had tears of laughter in my eyes by the time we got to the six-lane bowling alley but some of our members, I'm afraid, either don't have much of a sense of humour, or were oblivious to the significance of the date at the top of the email, which read April 1, 2008.

I immediately put the over/under on complaints to the club at 15 but once again, I underestimated our fickle membership, as no less than 40 calls came into the club within a day and that number evidently shot up to 80 two days later. Some were upset they weren't consulted and others actually called to prebook top and bottom floor suites!

It garnered enough attention to make
the front page of the St. Catharines Standard the next day!

I think it was tremendous fun and I wish to thank both our club president and our new clubhouse manager for having the stones to pull off this prank and bring some light-hearted humour back into our club.

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