When we think of personal comebacks we often think of a professional athlete who had to give it “one more try” like Mohammed Ali or Michael Jordan, closer to home it might be the likes of BC Lions head coach Wally Buono, who just can’t seem to step away from football. In music there was the famous ‘68 Comeback Special of Elvis Presley on December 3rd 1968 and certainly reunions abound with famous bands that split up, getting back together many years later on the comeback trail.
In golf we think of comebacks of the individual but rarely of a golf course itself. Golf courses don’ retire, they don’t physically move to another spot on the earth and then come back to their original coordinates on the map, so how can they come back? Golf courses do comeback though and such is the case of Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville on beautiful Vancouver Island. The popular and nationally recognized Morningstar that golfers played since its inception in 1991 didn’t disappear for long but long enough for people to say, as the legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg often did “Oh my!”.
It what is also a movie title Morningstar suffered from a “series of unfortunate events” so to speak.
None were steered by malice or intentional negligence but over the course of about 18 months Morningstar, like a rapidly flying toboggan, went downhill very fast. A combination of very little cooperation from mother nature timed with a depletion of the necessary funds to maintain it to its former glory saw it become a less than average course condition wise but still the great layout its always been know for.
There was an exodus of members who literally sought greener pastures or in this case fairways and I was one of them. Frustrated at the declining course conditions and the obvious lack of transparency in informing people what was up I left, now after one year away joyfully I’m back and so is the course.
It’s funny when you think of it, grass is not technically that stubborn a plant, you water it, fertilize and cut it and it will look exactly like its supposed to. Well after a year and half of unknowing combined with little play and a few dozen die hard members a light at the end of the tunnel appeared in the form of a company called G Force Group. Experts in the field of business solutions they were assigned the role as Receiver when the course went into insolvency. That was June 1st 2018 when they positioned someone very talented and experienced in the position of General Manager. With an injection of money well into the 6-figure bracket immediate action was put into place to gain back lost consumer confidence?
Work began by getting the greens staff some more bodies with areas of rough that hadn’t seen a mower blade in months getting trimmed down, bunker sand was improved upon, tees and greens always two of the mainstays at the course were whipped back into shape. Waiting for a food and beverage license for the clubhouse would take time so a big white marquis tent was erected right by the pro shop and the beers began flowing again and the bbq was a blazing in a makeshift outdoor eating area. More and more people were coming to play, members were smiling, the driving range was groomed and busy and the course was making a comeback.
Little by little people were talking about the course in a positive way again, you see as Dale Carnegie, the godfather of public relations used to famously say, “ Take care of the little things and the rest will take care of itself”.
Did the new GM have a magic wand; was he David Copperfield in disguise? No, what he had was know how, some necessary financing, a fabulous template to work with and most of all a crew of employees who hung in there so to speak and rode out the storm. The head pro and his ace team in the pro shop, often there from the opening bell to the final whistle pulling 12-hour shifts. The course superintendent and assistant superintendent at times working as a two-man crew when money was in very short supply. 2 guys taking care of an 18-hole championship golf course? Are you kidding me! Fast forward only a few months and with a little timely help from mother nature now acting more cooperatively supplying a ton of rain right after a major over seeding and fertilizing application and what do you have?
Lush green fairways and tees, those beautiful greens they were revered for and wait, no big white tent? Not anymore, The Grill on the Green Restaurant is back also and with many specialty nights your experience at Morningstar is not limited to just golf. The food is excellent. Short and sweet, easy to say and easier to endorse. Their talented chef and her stalwart team are the newcomers to the scene and some of the best the course has ever had. The french fries could be in the Food Hall of Fame as well as the wings, cod and the list goes on.
Morningstar has a beautiful layout and 17 excellent and challenging holes with one weak one, the Par 4 12th and even that right now has been shortened to a really fun and playable 150 yard Par 3.In my opinion there are few courses that are flawless especially those open to the public so we will leave out Augusta National here and if you have played St. Andrews as I have, the Par 4 17th known as The Road Hole is one of the dumbest holes you will ever double bogey, your tee shot has to go over the corner of The Old Course Hotel. In my opinion Morningstar Golf Club is easily one of best layouts on Vancouver Island and deserves getting back on track. Memberships will be sure to increase with many new members joining and a large percentage of those who left making this jewel their home course again.
The latest news to hit the streets is not only is there a wide array of membership opportunities and packages all with very favorable payment options, driving range privileges are now included in your membership, beginning January 1st 2019.
When you look in the dictionary under “comeback” don’t be surprised if you see a picture of Morningstar Golf Club.