Robert Klombies jokes that his wife has been trying to “get them back to Saskatoon for about 15 years.” In March the family’s goal was met as Klombies took over the role of executive director at Riverside Country Club.
After careers in British Columbia, Ontario, and Manitoba across the hospitality and sports membership facilities the departure of Jana-Lyn Fairbairn at the private club opened the door for the Klombies to make the move back to their home province. Klombies took over operation of the course in March shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the shutdown of the club. Despite the uncertainties he said his first season has gone well.
“It’s a great opportunity for golf as an industry,” he told Golf Saskatchewan this week. “The amount of people who are playing, the people who are taking it up, and learning and getting involved with it, it’s been really positive. Obviously it’s not business as usual but we’ve seen the rounds up year over year.”
Klombies said their rounds are up immensely at the club. Rounds increased by 40 percent in June, 74 percent in July, and 38 percent in August from last years numbers. He added that he feels for other sports not operating during the pandemic, but it’s great to see golf flourish.
“It’s been great to see everyone out there and enjoying it,” he said.
Although Klombies has been gone from Saskatchewan for 30 years the Riverside is very familiar to him. His father has been a member for 60 years and at 90 years old he still plays at the club. Klombies said the course is an exceptional place to be.
“It’s got a great layout for one thing and the location on the riverside is second to none,” he beamed. “I’ve golfed a lot of great courses in Canada, this is by far my favourite. Just the layout and topography makes it a special place.”
Riverside is recognized among Canada’s top courses on an annual basis it seems. This year the course ranked was ranked 75th on SCOREGOLF’s top 100 list.
“It has a good reputation,” Klombies continued. “A lot of people from other areas of the country really enjoy coming here and getting a chance to play. We’re pretty proud of it.”
Klombies added his first season couldn’t have happened without the help of the staff and management team. Superintendent Dave Campbell has been at the club for 47 years after taking over for his father in the position. Professional Earl Scott has been at the club over 20 years. Along with the restaurant, administration and proshop staff, Klombies said their team is fantastic at what they do providing service to their members.
“The services we have is very high quality for our members. We’re always looking to make it better and how can we improve and what can we add to make the experience that much better,” he said.