Municipal Golf Course is a Good Course
by Scott A. Sumner
This season I look forward to playing and writing about the three course known as Golf Thunder Bay with Tom Forsythe, the new Director of Golf Operations. Tom started this job last spring after moving from Nova Scotia and is enjoying his new challenge.
Municipal Golf course was opened around 1930 as a 9 hole layout. It was originally built by the merchants of Westfort. The current club house was built in 1977 and the old clubhouse is now the greenskeeper shack. This year Municipal has 19 older adults who have joined just this club. The City of Thunder Bay triple membership also allows a lot of older adults to come out and take advantage of all three course. "Last year we probably did 20,000 9 hole rounds at Municipal," Said Tom Forsythe. "There are two sets of tees, the red and whites. We want to grade each set of tees so when you play the second nine we can mix them up on the forward or back tees."
"It can be very busy on the weekends. We run the first couple of hours one and one, that is one reserved time and one walk on time. After the first two hours we go one, one and one. That is a reserved time, a walk on and a space for people playing the back nine. The green fees are $20 fro 9 holes and $25 for 18 holes, 7 days a week. The power cart rental is $15 for 9 and $25 for 18," notes Forsythe. "One of the best attractions for our golf course is the older adults. Most of them play regularly during the weekdays. There is a older adult rate of $622 Monday to Friday at Municipal."
"Bishops field is adjacent to the golf course where pilots trained in the WW II. They were flying Piper Cubs or Tiger Moths to train. They built Hurricanes and Hell Divers for the US Navy." notes Jim Gamble, Clerk Municipal Golf Course.
Municipal is a nice layout that is 2742 yards from the white tees and 2703 from the red. It has 7 par 4s, 1 par 3 and 1 par 5. No 7, the only par 5 on the course has two greens. "A few years ago there was a bad insect problem and it wiped out the original green so they built a new one on the left side, of the hole. The right hand green recovered so it gives a nice option. We'll switch it and have both of them in play during the season," states Forsythe. "We have one green which is bent grass - No 4."
"The course is nice to walk as it is on a fairly sandy soil so it doesn't create a suction like effect on courses that are a little wetter. This course is dry so it is firm on your feet but not too firm. It is a relatively easy walk," notes Forsythe. "There is a little bit of difficulty with the availability of water with the system we have at the present. However we are working on it. We need to rely on mother nature," states Forsythe. "We don't have any irrigation on the fairways and it would be difficult to get a good water supply to allow us to do that. We are looking at different options and we'll see what we can come up with."
Tom Forsythe starts his day at 7 am most days and works until 7 pm. "Today I was at Strathcona, where we are doing some work in the pro shops so we can do some retail sales - golf balls, shirts, hats, soft goods, umbrellas - all three course this year," says Forsythe. "I spend a lot of time in administration and with the maintenance crew. Last year we had in the budget for a turf superintendant to help me out but for me the best way to learn and get to know the golf courses was to handle the agronomy side myself. I did that all last year and will do it again this year. I am doing a dual role. I've got three pretty good lead hands though - each course has a lead hand."
There is 4 man maintenance crew at Municipal. At Golf Thunder Bay there is a total staff of 50, not including concessions which is contracted out. "I'm pleased with the conditions at Municipal. Last year at this time we had 1 green in play. This year all 9 are in play. The nine greens here right now are better than they were in October last year."
Incidently in our golf day we played with Mario Mauro, age 67, who shot a 37-35 for 72. Pretty impressive play.