After four decades of overseeing one of Greater Victoria’s most unique golf properties, Cedric and Dorene Steele will see the final putt sunk on their Prospect Lake Golf Course Nov. 30.
Following this golf season, the long-time owners of the lakeside nine-hole course are retiring and their son, general manager Shawn Steele, will focus on new endeavours.
“This decision is bitter sweet for Dorene and I,” Cedric says. “We have taken great pride and pleasure in watching people come to golf and enjoy the relaxed camaraderie and scenic, natural beauty at Prospect Lake Golf Course.”
“I think for many families in the area, the golf course represents an important snapshot of time,” he adds.
“It also represents the culmination of many years of privileged experiences that allowed us to keep the golf course going through ebbs and flows of a changing industry,” Cedric says. “We are most proud, however, of the wonderful friendships forged at Prospect Lake with the members and staff – many who have been with us for over 20 years,” he adds.
The family has no plans to sell the Prospect Lake property and is looking for those wanting to lease the property to provide recreational opportunities. “Our goal is to select a partner with recreational interests who will love the land as much as we do,” Shawn says. Possible uses include mountain biking, rock climbing, disc golf or a day camp, and the low-bank water access makes the beach-front ideal for activities like kayaking and canoing, he adds.
“Our community promise is to ensure that the lake and the land will serve as a long-term legacy for the ongoing enjoyment of families,” Shawn says.
Zoned for day-use recreation/commercial use, of the property’s 35 hectares, 14 hectares are dedicated to the golf course, while 18 hectares remain as forested lands, and the remaining 3.2 hectares is protected land.
The family would also consider several complementary programs, rather than a single lease, Shawn notes.
In the 1970s, Dorene was one of the first women to enter into the industry on the management side and “as one of the first women managers in the province, she did an amazing job,” Shawn says.
When the Steeles bought the property, it had no irrigation system and the greens were watered by hand. When a severe drought brought on a disease that killed all the greens at once, Dorene oversaw the entire replacement process, remaining undeterred when saturating rains followed during the installation of the new greens. “I was out there with a legion of volunteers – the ground was so wet and muddy you couldn’t even lay down sod – it was sliding away. We were actually staking it down to get it to stay,” Shawn recalls with a laugh.
Starting at the course at 16, sometimes mowing the greens at 4 a.m., Shawn earned a bachelor of commerce degree and a diploma in golf course management. “I have a deep admiration for the golf course and the experience we provided people,” he reflects, promising a special final season as the family pays tribute to the members, staff and greater community who have supported and enjoyed the course over the years.
“The other thing I’ll go away with is that we’ve had such a strong community impact.”
At the same time, as his parents eye retirement in what Shawn acknowledges is a bitter-sweet decision, he will focus his energy on his recently launched business Charity Gift (charitygift.ca). As a long-time volunteer passionate about social enterprise, “I wanted to find a way to help out and this was a natural evolution of that,” he says of the site that makes it simple for individuals to donate directly to charities.
The golf course re-opens April 18 for its final season under the Steeles, and will close permanently Nov. 30.