Chapples Golf Course: Lush Conditions In A Dry Summer
by Scott A. Sumner
As part of my golf course reviews of the city course this summer I was able to play Chapples Golf Course on August 4th with Tom Forsythe, Director of Golf Thunder Bay.
Chapples Golf Course was founded in 1952 as a 9 hole course and then became 18 in 1971. A new clubhouse was built soon after that as well. The original clubhouse used to be near number 12 at the start of Chapples Park Drive. At Chapples there ar about 40,000 rounds per year.
"We are doing well at Chapples this year. Member rounds are up while green fee rounds are off a little bit. That is mainly because of the poor weather at the start of the season and 3 and 1/2 rain closed days," notes Tom Forsythe. "There has been seven days when we have had pumps out on the fairways pumping water off."
"We have resodded four greens at Chapples in the spring, after doing seven last year. Also we have done a fair amount of recontouring, introduced some no mow areas around the side of William Street. We are changing the mowing patterns a little bit to create a less boxy look. It is more pleasing to the eye to have the fairways roll and be a little more free form." stated Forsythe. There is a staff of eleven on the maintenace at Chapples whom start at 6 am and go to 2 pm.
"Some of the fairways like number seven are very nice conditioned this year. The light weight mowers and the irrigation system make a huge difference here. We have a pretty dense turf and are going to have to start shooting to play summer rules at Chapples, which has never happened here." laughes Forsythe. "To resurface we buy our sod from a farm near London, Ontario. It is a blend of Penn Cross, Penn links and providence, really nice bent sod. It's good for the local weather. If you get a few varieties of grass, they may be able to with stand different stresses in a different manner. It is more winter hardy. We strip the sod off the green with a sod cutter, as thin as we can cut it. as there is little soil on the new sod. We level out some pockets and may recontour the green. The sod comes in 100 feet long by three feet wide. You use a three point hitch on a tractor, with a special frame. It takes about four guys to trim it and patch it together and four weeks later you can put on it. You use light frequent waterings through the system as you go and hope for good weather. If it stays as cold nex spring I might put down the green covers again to generate some heat in the spring."
If you want to play golf at Chapples, it's simple. To resrve a tee time you call three days in advance or you can show up. Green fees are $29 during the week and $3 on the weekends including tax. There is also a twilight rate. You have to call early, at 7am after August 15. Chapples reserve two times and reserve one for walk on traffic. If you want to show on the day of play you may wait for hour to hour and half for daytime traffic. It is a misnomer about the city golf courses. They usually manage to get you on the course.
Al Johnston is the Chapples Mens Club President, which has 258 member plus 14 juniors. The ladies club has another 100. It costs $50 to join the mens club and that provides the handicap ability and district fees. "We have a banquet and free tournament at the end of the yearas well as twilights every Wednesday. We also run 8 tournaments a year, two opens and 6 mens club with one being the club championships," syates Al Johnston. "On a normal mens night we average about 75 guys out. There are quite a few guys who come out as a single and get out on the course with whoever has a threesome. It is very social. The guys can bring their own steaks and buy the fries and salads from the concession. They have a few beers and talk golf. Our twilights run from the 2nd week of May until third week in September."
"I think Chapples is in great shape. It is absolutely fantastic. We just had our invitational and many out of town golfers were amazed at how good a shape it was in. The cut is great, the greens are good, as they are smoothed right out. They are putting well and you get a good roll on the ball." states Johnston who has been playing at Chapples for 15 years since he started golfing.
The Chapples course is a very nice municipal course layout with excellent greens and fairways. The new resodded greens are as good as you will find in the area and the watering system has made the fairways lush. This busy course is a great asset for Thunder Bay. and is a course you should play.