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

Adopted pet pig gets killed and eaten

Animal was adopted out by SPCA staff in the Cowichan Valley

Charge laid in Central Saanich dog cruelty case

Daniel Howard Ruygrok charged after dog found with compound fracture

VicPD officers assaulted by women in two separate incidents

One officer’s injuries required a hospital visit, following downtown fray

Lambrick to fill the halls with messages of love for Pink Shirt Day

For all the messages of anti-bullying and anti-violence spread on Pink Shirt… Continue reading

VIDEO: What you need to know today at the B.C. Games

All 19 events are underway across Kamloops, where five to 10 cm of snow is expected to fall

Wounded Warrior Run BC makes it to the Comox Valley

Day four of the annual fundraiser saw the team stop in Courtenay and Comox

Sask. school shooter to be sentenced as adult

The man was just shy of his 18th birthday when he killed four people and injured seven others

Internet questions PM’s fashion choices in India

The Trudeaus’ eight-day visit has been dogged by various controversies since it began Feb. 17

Pearkes opens doors to home renovation and decor expo

Plenty of ideas for homeowners at Victoria Early Spring Home Expo running Friday through Sunday

Claremont to stage broadway classic Annie

Claremont is staging one of the most successful Broadway hits in Annie,… Continue reading

Former Canuck Roberto Luongo addresses Florida shooting victims

Parkland, Fla., resident, delivers speech before Florida Panthers’ first home game since tragedy

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Kelowna skier Kesley Serwa adds to Canada’s gold medals

Despite losses in men’s hockey and curling, Canadian women won medals in ski cross and figure skating

WATCH: Walking from Argentina to Alaska one step at a time

Holly “Cargo” Harrison is in Williams Lake, resting a pulled hamstring before he continues on his 15,000-mile walk to Alaska.

Most Read