Minor renos major impact at Oak Lake golf course

Municipal course attracts casual golf business, students

Oak Lake’s municipal golf course reflects local pride and has become an attraction for golfers of all ages. It’s conveniently located on the east side of town not far from the TransCanada.

With a supportive governing board, dedicated golf course staff and even some volunteers, there is optimism that has led to renovations, both out on the course and within the clubhouse.

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Chief greenskeeper Barry Brown says, “This is probably as good as we have ever been in the eight years I’ve been here. The board came through, and said, ‘we have to get these things done’ and we have volunteers showing up, which is really cool.”

Two other greens keepers include Ken Stewart and summer student Terrence Crampain. Brown said its also very encouraging to have a volunteer like golf club member Rick Bell, who pitches in, to help keep the course improvements going forward.

Clubhouse manager Rachelle Stannage, in her second year with the Oak Lake golf club, takes a strong interest in its growth. She has a history with the course having worked here years ago as a student. She also recalls her mother managing the facility when she was a child.

When Stannage noticed that the boardroom within the clubhouse wasn’t user-friendly, she replaced long tables with smaller four-person tables and added some seating as well.

It has become a coffee shop where summer student Raenne Barre works, serving light lunches and specialty VanHoote coffees. It’s an inviting place for a coffee break with Virden Sweet Spot bakery treats available.

Outside there’s several picnic tables, some of them newly built at Reston lumber yard through corporate donations.

A practice putting green has been recently refurbished as Club President Murray Olive and Ken Stewart seeded new grass there this spring.

The nine-hole course has mature trees on the flat while the hilly area threads through beautiful oak trees and sandhills. You’ll find Par3 and Par4 holes on this course.

With the support of the RM of Sifton behind them and some diligent workers to make it happen, there’s a friendly appeal to golfing here.

The Lighthouse youth program directed by Kim Willamet made golfing part of their program. “We actually had a kids’ tournament here last year, that we’re hoping we can put on this year if the regulations allow it,” says Stannage. “Mike Thiessen came and taught them how to golf. Then we had a fun tournament the next day with free food.”

Some 65 adult members, and about 15 students/children golfed here last year. A group from Aspen Grove Campground generally golf daily. Some of these seasonal campers also volunteer at the course.

On June 25, a traveller heading back to Brandon after doing business in Virden happened to stop at the Oak Lake golf course for a quick round of nine holes. Meanwhile, another golfer had just come off the course after 18 holes. He was from north of Winnipeg but was going to visit family in the area. The course is well situated for such walk-ons.

You can find out more at www.facebook.com/oaklakegolfcourse/

© Virden Empire-Advance