Catalyst Strategic Consultants

How does your business need to grow?

Kokanee: Transcendent Golf

Way off the grid in the lost corner of the East Kootenays lies Mecca. My annual pilgrimage ended last week in a mix of frustration, elation and reverence.
Over the 30 or so years our nameless group has toiled the 6 hours through Cranbrook, Creston and up the east shore of Kootenay Lake as Kokannee Springs has called. It’s the highlight of the golfing year – the time I hope it all comes together. Sometimes it does – for a moment or two or even longer.
A designer named Norman Wood built the course on a visionary scale. Crafted out of a pasture and woodland in Crawford Bay near the east terminus of the ferry across to Balfour [and Nelson], in the 50’s, it was made for the ages. It was thought at that time that a highway would be built over the St. Mary’s Pass to connect Kimberly and Crawford Bay.
And now it is nourished by a caring combination of Calgary entrepreneur Dale Hodgson’s company Belstar and the unique folks of that corner of the world. Folks who soldier on keeping the place swish – letting nothing get in the way of hosting guests or their tender care for this little known heirloom.
This course is first of all gorgeous. Every corner is attended to – not in an overly fussy way: there are certainly limits to the budget and the scope of the hard working greens crew. But all is trim. Around some tee boxes are dazzling assemblies of exotic blooms and grasses. Behind the dramatic 6th green, the “Kokanee Springs” name is sung in a horseshoe of flowers. Lovingly, that’s the word to describe the care of the groundscrew for their charge.
And it is worthy of their attention. The design is grand.   The holes are surprisingly generous of fairway, which could lead one to think that the golf will be straightforward.   But despite the generous vista of lawn from the elevated 10th tee, there are some in our party who, after 6 attempts, have not put one drive on that fairway.
The tough parts are where they will be most telling. The greens often favor only a narrow angle of attack. On the 13th you can blast away through a wide opening to an enlarging fairway beyond. But after even a decent tee shot to the 150 marker, you arrive to a conundrum. The green is long and a bit narrow. And crowned. And bordered on the left by the Crawford Canyon. If you had known, or could drive that much father to the left quarter of the fairway, you would look straight down the line of the destination. But slightly short and you have to hit a lofted iron to an obtusely angled green. You’d better land it soft and on target or you’ll roll into one of several bunkers.
Or worse, miss by a hair and you’ll carom off the crown and have another exacting lob to regain it if you didn’t go down the canyon.
It’s a course that has very little makeup room. I haven’t heard that new club and ball technology has taken the teeth from Kokanee. To score well is deeply satisfying and frequently denied – even to more accomplished golfers than I.
And we have quite a varied group.
This is not a “get drunk, whoop and holler” gang – certainly not while golfing. Afterward, to some extent, maybe. But that has fallen off as age has risen. During the day, it’s serious golf – 6 rounds in 4 days. Enough so most are golfed out by the end.
That’s not to say the group is not fun. The banter is a riot. Underneath that is a gentle affection for each other that has sustained this gaggle for all these years. One looks after the reservations. Another the food and wine arrangements. And our presiding and all-wise Commissioner – the “Commish” – ensures that the games are fair and inclusive to all and that the bounds of behavior are understood and comically enforced.
The folks at Kokanee look forward to us coming. But that’s nothing to ending the year long anticipation: standing on that daunting elevated #1 tee, surveying an unparalled panorama fairway and beyond. It’s almost mystical. Hoping beyond hope you do honor to your best by landing it somewhere where you have a prayer of reaching that monster green in 2.

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


Past Posts