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100 Million Reasons for Excitement at Heron Point

14 FEB 2017

By John Gordon

Mike Burton, superintendent at Heron Point Golf Links, has about 100 million reasons to be excited about the upcoming golf season at his course.

Why 100 million? Because that is approximately the number of gallons of water that has had to be replenished back into Dunmark Lake as a result of its decades-old outflow pipe failed unexpectedly last year. Not only does the 35-acre lake act as an aesthetic and strategic aspect of the course, but even more importantly, it provides irrigation water essential to keep the turf alive.

Fixing the pipe was the easy part, says Burton. But persuading Mother Nature to send some rain to fill the lake back up was impossible.

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“We didn’t really get any rain at all after it was repaired. The lake just kept going down because of the evaporation from such a large body of water. The fact that the weather stayed hot and windy just made things worse.”

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Burton, who has been at Heron Point since he helped with its construction in 1991, said he had never seen such a string of calamities in all his years there. “You never knew what the next day was going to bring. And it was usually bad. It got to the point where you had to almost laugh or you’d cry.”

Echoing his opinion was Mark Napier, Heron Point’s director of operations. Napier first worked at the Club as a teenager in the mid-1990s and returned in his current position three years ago.

“We just couldn’t catch a break last spring and summer. But I am very optimistic heading into this season.”

Much of his optimism is based on the fact that an extensive over-seeding of all tees and fairways at Heron Point had “phenomenal results,” says Burton. “Even our seed supplier was shocked at how good a catch we got.” Plus, by mid-January, Dunmark Lake was full to capacity once again.

“Everything is green again,” says Burton.

ClubLink Regional Director of Operations Grant Holcomb says every resource available was accessed to try to keep Heron Point alive last season. “We’re very proud of Heron Point not only because it’s one of the best layouts anywhere but also because of its history. For example, Mike Weir won the 1997 Canadian Masters there before moving on to the PGA Tour.

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“We understand the disappointment of the Members because of the unavoidable circumstances last season but we've invested in returning Heron Point to top-notch conditions as quickly as possible.”

It took a Herculean effort just to keep the course barely breathing last season. More than a dozen tankers of water arrived every day over an eight-week period to irrigate the greens alone. But the parched fairways and tees slowly died of thirst. Thankfully, the successful over-seeding last fall has brought them back to life.

Along with various improvements completed in 2016—freshly paved entranceway, reconstruction of three of the course’s four bridges, some renovated bunkers and improved putting surfaces—and a replenished Dunmark Lake, the prognosis is positive for Heron Point Golf Links to return to its glory days when it opens this spring.