Condos peer over the Cordova Bay Golf Course from the Claremont Ridge. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Wet winters make for lush Cordova Bay Golf Course

It’s home to 73 species of birds, two goats, and a surprising 160 rounds of golf on a sunny weekend day in January.

A walk anywhere in Saanich is risky during the winter, but locals know there’s more than enough sunny winter days to play at Cordova Bay Golf Course. Even if it goes from sun to hail to sun in the time it takes to finish a par-five hole, which it did when this reporter recently visited the course, it’s still not reason enough to hire an electric golf cart, as most refuse, says superintendent Dean Piller.

“It’s a flat course, and it’s popular for seniors who walk the course, all year round,” Piller said.

(The neighbouring Ridge Course, a nine-hole par-three, does have hills.)

Piller has worked as the superintendent at Cordova Bay since it opened 27 years ago. In the past dozen years his expertise has been used as a volunteer at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., the British Open at Turnberry, Scotland, in 2009, and at the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, N.C.

Golf courses often face criticism for using pesticides and other harmful practices for the environment but Piller points out that not only has his golf course been free of insecticides since 1996, the course acts as a filter for stormwater coming down from the Cordova Ridge.

“It was worse when the gravel pit was in operation,” Piller says. “We’ve had the water tested, and the water that’s flowing into areas of the course is a lot dirtier than the water flowing out.”

The course is a matter of pride for Piller in several ways. Not all birds nest there but many do (as golf courses go, Cordova Bay is certified as a bird sanctuary by Audubon International).

The grounds are also home to raccoons, deer and otter, and have hosted the occasional visit by a cougar or bear. There’s also Jack and Freddie, the goats who live in the same shed Bill Mattick built for his famous goat a generation ago.

While he isn’t a daily golfer, Piller is an avid player in the world of greenskeepers, having won the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association as the Gordon Witteveen Award winner for 2017. The awards goes to the superintendent (or assistant) who authors the best article for publication in the CGSA GreenMaster magazine during the past year.

Piller earned the attention for penning an article on ‘overcoming thatch’ that was published in the fall. The problem of thatch arises from the constant clippings, which have to be removed, adding to the workload of the grounds crews, he said.

“It’s not just fighting invasive species, it’s managing a 200-acre piece of the city that’s home to red tail hawks, eagles and ospreys,” Piller said. “We’ve converted 12 acres to natural meadow and a half acre to a herb and veggie patch for Mattick’s restaurant. This place is for people who love the outdoors.”

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

Bird boxes such as these stand on the edge of ponds at Cordova Bay Golf Course which is also an Audobon sanctuary. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Just Posted

Four-sailing wait at BC Ferries Swartz Bay terminal

Full vessels create long waits on Friday afternoon

A year in tent city: Timeline of Camp Namegans

Since September 2017, Victoria’s homeless camp has set up in more than 20 locations

Tent city campers prepare to leave Uplands Park

Vehicle access remains restricted at Cattle Point

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

‘Repeat test fails’ clogging up the system, says ICBC

Increased driver education key to shorter wait times, safer roads

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

B.C. tickets win big in Lotto Max draw

Jackpot carried over; B.C. tickets share Max Millions prizes

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

How to get government cheques if Canada Post staff go on strike

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said members could go on rotating strikes as early as Monday

Most Read