Though it is arriving gradually, spring has more or less arrived and Kimberley’s golf courses are beginning to open up for the season. Purcell Golf has a number of changes coming up this year and director of golf Simon Jones is very excited.
Purcell Golf, home of the Kimberley Golf Club since 1924, will soon be the home of the Purcell Collegiate School, with construction likely to begin this summer. Purcell’s golf season this year will begin on Tuesday, April 19 with golfers initially playing the original 18-hole layout.
Two new holes were built last year and are ready to go for when construction gets underway. Jones explained that once construction begins holes seven and eight will close down, so golfers will play holes one to six as normal, and then number nine will become number seven.
“So the mandate is that we’ll always have 18 holes in play at all time,” Jones said. “Then ultimately 6, 7, 8, 9 will go, so we’re building new holes down by the river, but that work just started literally yesterday. So we’ve just started logging down there, and we’ll build three holes this year and then another three on top of that as well.”
One of the new holes, dubbed The Perch, is described by Jones as Purcell Golf’s new showcase hole. Sometime in May the course will have everyone come out to play a hole in one competition on The Perch.
“We’re pretty sure that Kia in Cranbrook, they’re going to put a car up for the hole in one prize,” Jones said. “We’ve got a little ravine to cross, it’s breathtaking you’ve got views of the St. Mary’s Valley there so you can see Bootleg Mountain up on your right-hand side and then all the river down below, so it’s pretty stunning.”
The course has been utilizing architect Trevor Dormer, who’s been all over the world and most recently spent time on the construction of Cabot Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. He built the two new holes last year and is now back on site working on the next six.
“Everybody knows the change is going to come and hopefully the holes we’re building are far superior, that’s really what we’re looking for,” Jones said.
“And the holes on the front nine, although there’s lots of history there, they’re difficult holes to maintain from the sunlight point of view, they’re surrounded with these big ponderosa trees,so it’s not perfect conditions for growing greens. You’ll definitely notice that there’s still lots of trees on the new holes that we’re looking at but they’re not directly on top of the green so a different look.”
The original nine holes of the course were built nearly 100 years ago back in 1924, with an additional nine added much later. With this new construction Jones believes the back nine and the new holes will be much more in sync.
“Right now people will tell you that the front nine and the back nine are quite different, so our hope is that we’ll end up with an 18 that will look a lot more like they were all built together,” Jones said.
The clubhouse underwent some renovations this year and they’ve hired a new chef, Patrick Sinclair, who is well known in Kimberley and is creating a whole new menu at Purcell. The course also plans to bring in a food truck for certain events and busier days throughout the year, providing a whole selection of drinks and food on the course.
“We’ve done some renovations in here, so really going after some more special events,” Jones said. “There seems to be a lot of people after COVID that are looking to either do a celebration for some reason, whether that’s a wedding or a birthday that they haven’t done, so we’ve already got quite a few bookings for special events like that, so that’s going to be a big year.”
Ultimately the clubhouse will move, becoming the focal point alongside the new holes on the river.
“So those new holes will be the start of the course so you’ll get a taste of all the new holes and then that will blend into the existing ones,” Jones said. “It’s going from being one of the oldest ones and then just kind of bringing us into the market — obviously lots of new golf courses in the area so this will be the next new one.
“People love playing new stuff, there’s no question about it. And we’re excited because I think we’re going to bring a lot more people that haven’t played here in a long time.”
In terms of early-season conditions, Jones said the courses wintered well. The greens were blanketed under a good coverage of snow early in the winter and everything looks great so far. There was still a little shade on the back nine and Purcell had planned to open their front nine on Friday, but decided to push opening until Tuesday, April 19 due to the cold temperatures.
This is the sixth summer for Jones at Purcell and he said that there’s been lots of changes in that time and lots of exciting changes to look forward to, both this year and beyond.
“I think people are quite keen to get golfing so we think it’s going to be a big season,” he said.