Back in business

After being ruined by flooding in 2017, Holiday Park Golf Course reopened this month with synthetic-grass tee boxes and greens and gravel fairways.

To look at it today, you’d never know it was a massive mess two years ago.

Holiday Park Golf Course is a quirky six-hole, par-three with bright-green synthetic-grass tee boxes and greens and gravelly fairways.

In the spring of 2017, when Okanagan creeks spilled their banks and overflowed, the all-grass golf course was more than just flooded.

Upper Vernon Creek became a torrent, sending surf-size waves over the golf course and depositing thousands of cubic metres of gravel and silt.

“We didn’t know what to do,” said Holiday Park Resort owner Dan Sigal.

“When the water retreated, the course was buried under two to three feet of new material and we didn’t have insurance for the land. We had insurance for buildings and items, but not the golf course land.”

Faced with an astronomical amount of time, labour and expense to restore the golf course to its original state, Holiday Park decided to be innovative.

“We simply built the new course on top of it all,” said Sigal.

“The golf course level is now two to three feet higher.”

If gravel fairways bother duffers, they can take a patch of synthetic turf along to hit off between the tee boxes and greens.

Holiday Park recently had a grand reopening for the course, and people are again playing it.

The rebuild cost $260,000 rather than the millions it might have taken to scrape off and haul away all the gravel and silt and put in a whole new grass golf course.

Sigal has golfed at more than 250 courses around the world and saw many courses that aren’t the traditional all-grass tee boxes, fairways and greens.

“A lot of volunteers with our golf club association did a lot of work to help keep the cost down,” said Sigal.

“It’s like a new course that’s been here for over 25 years.”

For now, the course is private and playable only by owners and renters at Holiday Park Resort and their guests.

The 27-hectare resort has 570 recreational vehicle sites for full-time, vacation and rental residents and 117 privately owned and time-share condominiums.

However, Holiday Park is looking into opening the course to limited play by the public.

“The golf course runs along the creek and the other side of the creek is the Okanagan Rail Trail (49-kilometre bike and hike trail),” said Sigal.

“So there’s lots of people on the rail trail admiring the golf course and want to play. We’ll see what we can figure out.”

Since the 2017 flooding, Upper Vernon Creek has been rehabilitated with some reconfiguration and a berm to make it less likely to flood in the future.