Though it has been raining hard, and the work isn't done yet, the difference the renovations will make at the Squamish Valley Golf Club is crystal clear.
Scott Wengi, general manager of the Squamish Valley Golf Club, proudly points out the various upgrades around the course, which began on Aug. 21, and are still taking shape while the course is closed for the winter.
The renos will allow for a revitalized back nine.
There are three brand-new greens, one reworked green, new bunkers, new tee-decks and reworked fairways with fresh grass.
New greens are on holes 13, 14 and 17.
"The holes that are going to be the new jewels and the crown from this reno are going to be the 14th hole ... and the 17th—really, really nice, big improvements and noticeable improvements," Wengi said.
Standing at one of his favourite fairways of the renovations, on hole 17, Wengi jokes, "Now, hopefully, it's more of a fairway as opposed to an unfair way."
Those are the upgrades Wengi is really excited to see, he said.
"The designs are much, much larger, so easier to hit, but they'll provide their challenges on the greens," he said.
There have been incremental changes over time, but the last time the club invested a significant amount into the course was back in 2012, when they put in a new irrigation system. Prior to that, in 2008, new greens were put in on holes 15 and 16, Wengi said.
Popularity of golf
Squamish's club is a busy one.
Golf's popularity exploded during the pandemic, when it was something people of all ages and most abilities could do together, but apart.
Juniors to seniors and every age in between take advantage of the local course.
The Squamish club’s membership, which has a waitlist, is at 320 adult members; Wengi said it is capped at that number to ensure the club is able to accommodate the public.
"We have what is called a semi-private golf course. For all intents and purposes, we're very much public. We're open to the public seven days a week."
The club sees about 300 golfers on the course every day during the season, Wengi said.
"Probably during the summer, we see in excess of 400 people a day here, whether it be golfing, whether it be using the range, whether it be the restaurants, whether it be playing squash," he said.
The club's popularity was recently on display at the Squamish Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards where it won Medium/Large Business of the year.
Why renovate now?
The recent upgrades were brought about in part out of necessity, said Wengi, a Sydney, Australia native who started working at the course in the pro shop in 2008.
"The golf course, the land it lies on, has a lot of water flowing underneath it, aquifers and such. And we get a lot of movements in the fairway—subsidence. And so, you ended up with a lot of dips and hollows, that, one, from a playing perspective, aren't overly fair, but also, potentially more importantly, from a maintenance perspective are not easy to maintain," he said.
"Because even the mowers can't get into those dips."
The golf course was originally built on an old riverbed.
Though he started at the club about 15 years ago, Wengi clearly still loves what he does.
"I get to see a lot of the workings through whether it be kitchen and restaurants, but also maintenance, and then the golf operations itself,” he said. “This renovation has been a real eye-opener, because I haven't been part of something like this before," he added. "It is very interesting."
Wengi is excited to open back up and show off the reinvigorated course in spring of 2024, he said.
The course will reopen in mid-March, with the renovated back nine likely in late May or early June, weather depending. In the meantime, people are welcome to use the club's trail network, as long as they stick to the paths, so as not to damage all the hard work that has gone into the course.
Find out more about the Squamish Valley Golf Club on its website.