Tag Archives: Peter Smith

Restoring Fairmont Hot Springs Resort: Cleaning up the holes

Hole 16, a par-three and 138 m (151 y), had the largest amount of debris in both quantity and size. Some of the rocks were the size of golf carts. Photo courtesy Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

By Peter Smith, MBA, CPGA

From July 15 to August 31, the weather was co-operative with mostly dry, sunny, hot days. Mountainside Golf Course was built in the late 1960s and is, as Carrick describes it, a ‘parkland-style’ golf course. The irrigation system is the original manual system with two sources of water—the primary one is Fairmont Creek and the secondary is Cold Stream Creek.

As the debris slide came down Fairmont Creek, one of the casualties was the primary irrigation source for Mountainside. The intake system and 0.75 km (0.5 mi) of supply line were gone. Additionally, an immeasurable amount of silt, small gravel, and small sticks were driven into the system. As if the project to reconstruct the seven holes was not enough, the challenge of maintaining the rest of the course increased as the weather grew hotter. Redirecting the secondary source and constantly cleaning out the plugged lines was a major task. Pumps in creeks and waterways were also used where possible. At times, fire hydrants were tapped to supplement the source.

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Restoring Fairmont Hot Springs Resort: Community support

Hole two, a par-four and 377 m (412 y), had the least impact. The two debris swaths were in the middle of the fairway and at the forward tees. Photo courtesy Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

By Peter Smith, MBA, CPGA

The support received and offered from friends, neighbours, strangers, and the industry was quite remarkable. Superintendent Tom Altmann headed up the recovery project and was able to draw on all kinds of resources for assistance. Equipment was loaned by Calgary’s Oakcreek Golf & Turf. David Blanchfield, golf course superintendent from Alberta, was in between jobs at this time and on vacation at the Fairmont Riverside Villas with his family and volunteered to help out. Altmann quickly saw the opportunity to use Blanchfield’s skills and put him on a mower for two days. Although Mountainside was closed while under reconstruction, the course was still in the peak growing season and had to be maintained.

Another example of support came from a neighbouring golf course, Eagle Ranch, which showed up for a full afternoon of work with the whole maintenance team. They even rented a bus, which the superintendent’s wife drove.

Support also came in the form of a comprehensive insurance policy. Part of the claim allowed the company to maintain all the staff through the reconstruction project. Many were used to support the additional business Riverside Golf Course sustained due to Mountainside’s closure. A couple of the more senior male employees insisted on working as labourers on the Mountainside project to help restore the course to playability. One Mountainside member insisted on working as a volunteer every day of the 46 days—even when he was told he would have to be on the payroll for liability reasons, he never cashed his paycheques.

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Restoring Fairmont Hot Springs Resort: Recreating the course

Doug Carrick, Canadian golf course architect, reviews plans on the 12th green with Tom Altmann, superintendent at Mountainside Golf Course. Photo courtesy Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

By Peter Smith, MBA, CPGA

Doug Carrick, Canadian golf course architect, was brought in to assess the course and offer advice. The plan involved using all the material deposited on the golf course to improve the impacted holes.

New tees were created, bunkers were removed or re-located, severe slopes were softened, and Fairmont Creek was lined with boulders. Only three of the greens from the seven affected holes had debris deposits. Thanks to the quick work from the course maintenance team, the debris was removed by hand, and only one-third of one green had to be replaced from FHSR’s Riverside Golf Course’s bentgrass nursery. Fortunately, FHSR has two 18-hole courses and almost all the bookings at Mountainside including member play was accommodated at Riverside Golf Course. Approximately 2.8 ha (7 acres) of bluegrass sod was used in the reconstruction. One of the two sources for the irrigation system was destroyed and much of the irrigation system on the affected holes had to be repaired or replaced. Bridges had to be rebuilt, and two ponds dredged and replaced.

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Restoring Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

Photo © Don Weixl. Photo courtesy Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

By Peter Smith, MBA, CPGA

On July 15, 2012, a huge debris slide travelled down Fairmont Creek, running through the middle of B.C.’s Fairmont Hot Springs Resort (FHSR). Approximately 150,000 m3 (5.3 million cf) of material—including mud, rocks, and trees—came down the creek, past the lodge, recreational vehicle (RV) park, hot pools, and through Mountainside Golf Course, one of the resort’s three courses.

Bridges were washed out. The RV park was completely cut off, stranding 500 people overnight until a culvert and road could be excavated and built. The source of the hot springs was buried under more than 6 m (20 ft) of debris. The domestic water systems were destroyed and seven holes on Mountainside Golf Course were buried under 1982 m3 (70,000 cf) of debris. The most shocking thing was not one person was hurt in the resort or community, which was at mid-summer occupancies.

The lodge, RV park, and hot pools were closed for 19 days, and reopened on August 3, just in time for the long weekend. This was an amazing feat considering the work required to restore the infrastructure.

Closed for 46 days, Mountainside reopened for the Labour Day weekend—another great feat considering the scope of work that had to be completed. Among the debris on the course were rocks the size of golf carts, hundreds of trees, massive amounts of mud, minivans, and large commercial garbage containers from the 125 timeshare condominiums located in the middle of the golf course.

The initial expectation was that Mountainside would be out of commission for the rest of the 2012 season. However, within 48 hours of the event, the team at FHSR had created a plan to reopen it by the end of August.

Read the full article: Restoring Fairmont Hot Springs Resort