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

Province delivers notice of unauthorized occupation to Saanich tent city Camp Namegans

A Ministry of Transportation liaison to Camp Namegans delivered a “notice of… Continue reading

UPDATE: Woman hit by car in parking lot 93 years old

Driver of sedan backs into older adult walking through lot

Residents of tent cities unfairly labeled as criminals, says report

Some neighbours supportive of Regina Park camp

Delayed grant decisions could send new Crystal Pool costs soaring

Delays could cost the City of Victoria up to $500,000/month more in construction costs

Delivery truck downs power lines in Sidney

A tractor trailer delivering eggs clipped a low-hanging wire on Second St.… Continue reading

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Special forces unit to monitor Hells Angels ride on Vancouver Island

Enforcement unit says motorcycle club to hold 35th anniversary ride in Nanaimo

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Saanich Police investigate store robbery

Store video captures image of suspect

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 17

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

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Union construction cost competitive, B.C. Building Trades say

Non-union firms can bid on infrastructure, but employees have to join international unions

Trudeau to shuffle cabinet ahead of Liberals’ team for 2019

Trudeau could lighten the work loads of cabinet ministers who currently oversee more than one portfolio

Most Read