Keeping Willows Golf Course alive

Sandspit's Shingle by Gaetano: This was the plea last November that resounded loud and clear in our small community: save the Willows!

  • Apr. 1, 2016 5:00 p.m.

Sit back and watch the grass grow—not on our watch!

This was the plea last November that resounded loud and clear in our small community (and island wide) via word-of -mouth, fliers and bulletins: save the Willows!

Under a lease agreement with an island individual set to expire December 31, the future of the Willows Golf Course was uncertain for 2016. With no ‘off-island/off-shore buyers’ waiting to tee off, the rumour was the course was destined to revert back to a sheep farm, or a dairy farm, or even a potato farm!

Yep, a potato farm.

The empty paddock with its mobile trailers and junk equipment across from the golf course was once row upon row of russet potatoes, stretching from the boundary of the Sandspit Airfield down to as far as the No. 3 hole and the Coast Guard Towers. Those organic spuds served up at the tea table and local markets survived roaming deer because of their toxic leaves but did not survive progress. Willows was born.

On November 3 we saw approximately 30 community members rally at a ‘13th hour town hall’ meeting under the guidance of MIMC to find out, firstly, what the potential loss of the Willows would mean to our small logging community who, like every other small single-resource community in British Columbia, has suffered high rates of attrition.

And secondly, we wanted to find out if there were enough community members in our small town willing to commit volunteering to yet another group. Do we as a community value Willows and its infrastructure enough to incorporate it into our community infrastructure? Can we as a community alone afford to keep the Willows open?  Should we call upon Haida Gwaii to join together and support our juniors, our teenagers, our golden agers and of course our mainstream golfers through programs both on the course and in the schools? This is not only for the love of game, but for the love of health, fitness and all other recreational, economic possibilities open to us.

Yes, we should and we are! How do we do this?  Volunteer, get our hands dirty, ask for support from local and off-island organizations, apply for funding available on and off island and share with and support the many groups that have sprouted up with similar goals!

At its February meetings Moresby Island Management Committee (MIMC) presented the Vibrant Haida Gwaii Communities Initiatives, a program established for the purpose of providing Gwaii Trust Funds to community projects that support the creation, development, maintenance and support of necessary community infrastructure as determined by each individual community on Haida Gwaii. The Gwaii Trust defines “infrastructure” as: The basic physical systems of a community. Clean water, sewers, transportation, communication, waste management, recreation facilities and community safety initiatives; in essence all systems that are vital to a community’s economic development and prosperity.

Updates on the newly-formed Sandspit Golf Course Society has seen its board members hard at work, along with the enthusiasm of all gofers over the past three months getting the golf course back into shape. If you are one of those diehards, there are new score cards in the honesty box at the entrance along with a notice of golfing fees—we thank those who have braved wind and rain to golf, leaving their fees inside the honest box.

Greens fee memberships and day passes can be purchased at Supervalu. Keep golf alive and the course open. Sunday April 10 sees the first scheduled tournament at the Willows. This tournament is one of 12 planned for the 2016 Second Anniversary of the Haida Gwaii Golf Tour.   The Sandspit Golf Course Society welcomes the donation of 400 litres of fuel for each tour date from Fast Fuels.

According to last year’s organizer the greatest thing that happened with the 2015 tour was that the organisers were able to get golfers from the north to play at the Willows. There were golfers that had played for years at their own courses and had never golfed at the other until this tour.  This year will see the junior division play free of charge, thus getting our youth out in the fresh ocean air with the potential of becoming one of Canada’s great golfers of the future!

Plans are underway to have training sessions before each tour event, if you would like to hold your own company golf tournaments as weekends are filling fast. Send your details to the Sandspit Golf Course Society email:

Is it true about global warming? Will the winds and rain ever quit!  Many stranded ferry passengers here and in Rupert were not happy being kept prisoner because of gusting winds —great for the local Rupert economy but not great for the prisoners’ pocket books!

Long faces and tearful kids are not the norm at ALM Elementary Sandspit but was the case for the remaining kids of the ALM School who had planned a ski trip to Smithers and Shames in Terrace last week. The winds huffed and puffed and kept that ferry docked in Rupert.  Only the seventh graders made it across the Hecate – the lucky few enjoyed the both ski hills immensely.

Funding from this edition to be donated to Sandspit Salmon Enhancement Society.