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Moving forward


In June three Grade 8 students from Lewisporte approached the town council with the need for a youth centre and little did they know but two months later they would be one step closer to their goal.

After their year started with their greens being vandalized by herbicides, Colin and Teresa Fowlie and the staff at Brule Point Golf have bounced back. The course will be open with its nine original greens back in play for the first time since June. The couple is also looking forward to getting on with their planned expansion.

Just three short months ago, this green had 13 healthy peers overlooking the cove to one side and Tatamagouche Bay to the other. On an average day, the shores of P.E.I. can be seen through the opening of the bay.

It was an attractive place for a roaming golfer willing to pay the price of a green fee. It was then, and it soon will be again.

In early June, the Fowlies and Brule Point Golf Course were the target of an expertly crafted act of vandalism. Someone – a six-foot tall figure with size 12 shoes – made their way onto the course at night and poured the herbicidic weed-killer Roundup onto the greens. A while later, they came back for the tee boxes.

“At first we thought it was a fungal thing,” Teresa said. “So the first thing you do is treat it that way.”

Unfortunately, nothing worked. They brought in experts from the University of Guelph and Dal Agricultural Campus. The evidence proved sabotage.

“We never thought, not for a million years…” Colin said, his voice trailing off. “I was in denial right up until it was proven.”

The course had already taken fees from its regular members, plus a range of new customers. To accommodate them, the staff, led by course superintendent Matt Fraser, worked around the clock to make temporary greens. They were able to reopen shortly after with seven temps – their condition a far cry from the usual rolling greens.

But the Fowlies don’t focus on the negative. They’ll leave that to the police. Instead, the couple and their seven employees focused on the task at hand as well as the work ahead of them. This weekend, the course will be open with all nine original greens for the first time since the attack. Now, the Fowlies can focus on the next task – their dream expansion.

It started in 2007 when an investment group purchased the golf course and planned a massive overhaul. Colin, who has experience in construction, design and project management, was brought in to consult and eventually invested. The plan was to build an 18-hole championship course, the third in the area after Northumberland Links and Fox Harb’r. Along with the course, they’d sell 150 small, urban-style lots, which required complex water and septic systems.

“They could never get the financing together to implement that infrastructure and start actually selling lots,” he said. The investors talked about shutting down the course and leaving behind nearly $1 million in Community Economic Development Investment Funds (CEDIF). In 2012, an Ontario mortgage holder called for foreclosure, citing $842,096 in owed money. The other investors eventually walked away, leaving the course and the expansion in the Fowlie’s hands.

The project has seen new life now, with a more realistic goal – a nine-hole course with fewer, larger lots for sale.

Standing at the third hole, Colin points out across the fairway, showing the direction a new course will face. Along the ground are chalk outlines, giving guidance to the new contour lines. Four new holes will soon replace the current nine-hole course, while five more holes sit a short way up the road.  

“This idea comes from the arrogance of the previous plan,” Colin said. “A third championship course in this area would just be too much. The market would never support it. We don’t need to compete with Fox Harb’r. Instead, we can be our own thing that belongs to Brule Point, and belongs to Tatamagouche and this area.”

The new plan will take a big step in the coming weeks, as the first 11 lots go up for sale. In the meantime, the course will continue to operate as usual, like it always does.

Whether it’s dealing with vandalism or overhauling the entire course, “There will always be nine holes open at Brule Point,” Teresa said.

 

 

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