Some members of the Eaglecrest Golf Club might like a mulligan.
Club members have received notice that the ownership group, Semiahmoo Golf Centre Ltd, plans to reduce the course from 18 holes to nine, starting April 1.
Emails were sent to all members by new operations manager Steve Phillips, who cited economic factors and issues with the golf club’s lease agreement with the Town of Qualicum Beach as the major reasons behind the plan.
The club currently leases from the town the land on the 17th fairway (23,163 square metres) and 18th tee box area (4,042 square metres) where the Eaglecrest sign is located. The five-year lease ended Dec. 31, 2020. Since November, the town has attempted to negotiate a new five-year lease with Semiahmoo Golf Centre Ltd.
According to town staff, prior to the expiration of the lease in 2020, the rate was much lower than other lease rates applied to all other town encroachments. What the town proposed was a five-year lease with escalating rental rates to run from January 2021 to Dec. 31, 2025.
For the 17th fairway land, the current rate of of $1,902 would remain for this year. But in the next four consecutive years, the rates would go up annually to $2,685, $3,468, $4,251 and $5,035.
As for the 18th fairway, the proposed rental rates would start at the current fee of $376 for 2021 and in the succeeding four years, the amount increases to $496, $615, $756 and $855, respectively.
The ownership group rejected the town’s offer on Dec. 25, noting the increased rates as unaffordable. The town offered a monthly payment plan to make it affordable but that was also rejected by the owners, who indicated they prefer the rental fees to remain unchanged in the next five years.
Semiahmoo Golf Centre Ltd has declined to renew the lease.
Phillips said he’s not able to comment on the nine-hole layout plan and on issues involving the Town of Qualicum Beach on the ownership’s behalf.
“I can confirm that what you have heard is indeed true and I can let you know that there is no support and overwhelming opposition for the intention from the club’s membership or the community,” said Phillips.
The golf club owners have decided to drop the 17th hole from its layout and in their nine-hole configuration it will include holes 14, 15, 16, 18, 1, 2, 3, 12, 13. The fourth and 11th holes will not be used. The club also plans to build a driving range and add indoor simulators to the facility.
The membership fees will be restructured to align with a nine-hole course.
Town staff indicated that town policies clearly state that Eaglecrest maintains operation as an 18-hole golf course. There is also no policy to support further development of the Eaglecrest golf course.
The president of the Eaglecrest Men’s Club, John D’Aigle said they were caught by surprised by the latest development.
“We’re disappointed about this,” said D’Aigle. “This is going to have a huge impact on our community. We as members will organize and fight this.”
Golf columnist and former Eaglecrest member Bill Flower said it would be a mistake for Eaglecrest to go to a nine-hole layout.
“It would be a very negative situation on the golf community in Qualicum Beach and Parksville,” said Flower, who was a member of Eaglecrest for five years. “The golf course has always offered 18 different holes and has a good challenging layout. Also, with the amount of people taking up golf with the pandemic, the last thing the area needs is the reduction in the number of golf holes that are available for people. Courses are already getting maxed out for tee time. Now it’s going to be even tougher for golfers to get on if nine holes are taken away from a community that is so vibrant in playing golf.”