LAC LA BICHE - Lac La Biche County councillors have unanimously approved a seven-year master plan for the Lac La Biche Golf & Country Club. The details of the plan will see capital investment reshape greens and revitalize infrastructure at the municipally-owned and society-run golf course.
Council’s approval of the long-range plan is estimated to come with a price tag of nearly $5 million. However, capital funding required to finance the project has not yet been determined.
The input of capital investments will be ironed out at a later date by the Lac La Biche Golf Club Society and municipal officials.
“The golf course is one of our major assets and we need to keep it as such,” said Coun. Colette Borgun.
Ranging from aesthetic changes in the clubhouse to greatly needed landscaping rehabilitation, the seven-year project has been enthusiastically welcomed by members of council.
“It's huge to our economy — of course not during COVID times — but during regular times,” said Coun. George L’Heureux, adding that the golf course also helps raise funds for organizations and charities in the community through popular tournaments at the lakeside location. “It's a good thing, and we need to keep it up. We have got to keep it world class.”
Meeting standards without disturbing the game
Last fall the County reached out to consulting firm Golfplan Associates LTD. to find ways of keeping the 70-year-old course competitive and attractive to golfers.
Golfplan’s review found Lac La Biche's facilities in need of extensive improvements and provided the Council with architectural advice improve the County’s current infrastructure.
As any extensive construction expected in the foreseeable future, could cause disruption to the swing of things at the course, the seven-year timeline was adopted with additional recommendations of refurbishing one hole at a time.
“It allows us to do some work without really impeding the operations of the course,” said Coun. Lorin Tkachuk, the municipality’s representative on the golf society’s board.
The finalized Golf Course Master Plan presented by the Recreation and Community Services department includes plans to level, expand and reconstruct all 18 tee boxes in order to meet USGCA standards, as well as an extensive overhaul of the fairway’s grading and drainage systems.
It is a big project with a big price tag, but Lac La Biche County councillors agree, it is really an investment in the municipality’ only golf course.
Located off Provincial Park Road, the Lac La Biche Golf and Country Club has been transformed from the nine-hole track it was in 1958 to an 18-hole course attracting golfers from all over the province.
Doubling in size and changing hands from private ownership to public, the golf course as remained a constant for Lac La Biche and area residents.
In 2009, the municipality purchased both the land and assets with the understanding that day-to-day operations be carried out by the Lac La Biche Golf Club Society.
The lakeside course, known for its challenging, bush-lined back-nine fairways, picturesque views of the east shoreline of Lac La Biche lake from most front-9 fairways, and a 19th hole with the best views of the region, the course is often described as a gem or a jewel of the area.
Working in collaboration, both groups have invested in small infrastructure projects over the last decade ranging from a memorial BBQ shelter to parking lot upgrades and building additions.
However, nothing as grandiose as the improvements set to unfold over the next decade has been carried out at the Golf and Country Club before.