It’s been approximately four years since the Jon Barber family took over the lease at the Regina Beach Golf Club and the group’s hard work is starting to pay off.
The land the nine-hole course is on just outside the resort town is federal reserve land managed by the Kinookimaw Beach Association. The Barbers operate the course and the reviews are coming back positive. The most glaring change at the course is remarkable upgrades to the late 1950’s-built clubhouse that were undertaken about a year and a half ago.
“There had been no improvements made since then,” said Debbie Giesenger, the clubhouse manger told Golf Saskatchewan during a recent course visit. “It was time to give it a facelift and have a place that people enjoy to come to. When they are done golf they can sit and enjoy a meal or have a couple drinks.”
The newly renovated building features a restaurant and lounge as well as a new deck overlooking the first fairway. The clubhouse is completely winterized as well and for the first-time last year was open all year round. Giesenger said word was slow getting around that they were open despite the golf season ending but overall the venture was a success.
“Our chef has a very good reputation,” she said. “I would say that since we were open through the winter and our social media promotion our restaurant revenues are up about least 30 percent from last year. Our restaurant is very highly rated.”
The town of Regina Beach is highly regarded as a resort community just a short drive from Regina on Highway 11. The year-round population including nearby Buena Vista is about 1,400, in the summer months that swells to 5,000 along the shores of Last Mountain Lake. Giesenger said even with plenty of other family activities in the community the golf course is a huge benefactor.
“Most businesses make or break in the summer, most of them close in the winter but a few of us stay open. For the golf especially, we have a lot of people spend their summers here. We also have a lot of people that camp all summer, I think they do that because of the golf. It’s convenient, they are adjacent to us in the campground,” Giesenger added.
With the clubhouse upgraded and flourishing lots have work has now focused on the course itself which like the building has been neglected. The maintenance crew has been diligent working for nearly a half of a decade to get the course to a passable grade. Giesenger said they have done much better than that.
“I am not sure what they’ve done or how they’ve done it but right from the very start of the season people marvelled what excellent condition the greens are in,” she beamed. “According to golfers they have been excellent, and they’ve stayed that way all year. I’ve had numerous golfers say the greens have never looked so nice.”
Assistant greenskeeper Harry Watts has been alongside Jon on the maintenance staff since the lease signing. He took one summer off but considers the course his second home. He said even the crew is shocked by the condition of the putting surfaces this season.
“We were surprised because our sprayer blew half of our chemical out at the end of the year last year and we had to do some calculations and use our heads,’ he explained. “We managed to get the right amount of chemical on all the greens still. We took the sand off and it was like we didn’t even have a winter.”
Watts said getting ahead on the course hasn’t been easy but everyday the crew seems to become more efficient thanks to lots of underground work that is allowing for the course to become more attractive for players of all levels.
“Last year we started getting our fairways on automatic sprinklers with timers, two years ago we got all the greens and tee boxes on timed, pop up sprinklers so we don’t have to hand water those,” Watts explained. “We have three fairways that are all on automatic sprinklers now too. We don’t have to worry about them getting enough or too much water. We come in the morning, the greens and boxes are nice and damp, we don’t have to worry about it.”
Even with the headway the family has made at the club Watts said there is more to do.
“I have been here four years and I don’t think I’ve gone a year without a water break. I’ve probably fixed 80 some years. Some are a foot break, some of them are 20, it just depends,” he added.
With the improved conditions and increased traffic both in the clubhouse and on the course the family has been able to focus on the future. They hired a proshop staff member that is also a coach. That allowed the course to focus on a junior program. They had spring lessons and any junior golfer that paid the lesson fee was able to put that towards a membership. The club hosted weekly lessons over the summer as well with much success. The year-end family fun event was packed. Every Monday the juniors played with the coach following along providing tips.
Regina Beach has a couple designated ladies’ time slots for both nine-hole players and 18. There is the customary busy men’s nights and couple’s have a league as well. The year-end couple’s tournament is one of their larger events. Overall they club has approximately 200 members.
The season is winding down across Saskatchewan, but the staff looks forward to the winter traffic whether it’s on their potentially groomed cross-country ski trails, snowmobilers, or ice fishers, the future is bright at the Regina Beach Golf Club.
“It’s just a nice easy day out, it doesn’t take five hours, you can come in normal nice clothes,” Watts promoted. “You don’t have to book two days in advance, it’s very affordable, family orientated, I recommend it to everyone.”