Golf at Katepwa dates back almost as far as the Province of Saskatchewan itself, which was established in 1906. The beauty of the area as a recreational oasis was first recognized by a Regina Judge named Brown who assembled a syndicate of investors to purchase property at Katepwa. This was a couple years before the First World War, a time when access to the area was by train to Lebret and by horse the rest of the way.
From its inception as a recreation area, golf was an integral part of Katepwa life. In 1913, the first nine holes were laid out by a Scottish pro from St. Andrews and the Regina Leader was touting Katepwa as the finest site for a golf course in all of Western Canada. Golf became a focal point of life at Katepwa from the twenties through the fifties, but with the advent of tee-to-green irrigation and grass greens at courses in the Regina area, the allure of golf at Katepwa waned. By the late sixties and seventies, golf at Katepwa had become a colourful joke, with players ripping around the course amidst belches of blue smoke from the back of rusted out Datsuns and Ford Anglias and Prefects, their doors and trunk hoods removed and roofs chopped off. Yahoo!
In the eighties, the course property and adjoining campground was put up for sale and golf at Katepwa was in danger of disappearing forever. In response, Regina lawyer and developer and local cottage owner, Ross Keith, put together a group, like a second coming of the initial investors syndicate, and bought the site with the goal of saving it for golf and preserving green space adjacent to Saskatchewan’s first and smallest provincial park, which was also in danger of being abandoned and shut down by the province.
An 18-hole concept plan was commissioned but shelved and the status quo held sway for a number of years. Then, in the mid 90’s another local cottage owner and avid golfer, Greg Murphy, began pressing Keith and his syndicate to develop the property. Murphy convinced Keith that it was feasible to build a new, nine-hole course. Working with local and regional economic development authorities, Keith then organized a plan to raise capital through the sale of memberships in a non-profit corporation (Katepwa Beach Golf Club Inc. was incorporated in the spring of 1996) to build a new course that Murphy would design.
The membership drive was a monumental task. There was simply no model to point to, no example in the province of a modern, successful effort at building a member owned golf club from scratch. The prevailing attitude was that, in Saskatchewan, any new golf course was destined to fail and that the only prudent course of action for any sensible individual was to sit on the sidelines and watch the thing crash and burn. There proved however to be enough local support for the initiative, supplemented by family members and friends of those promoting the project (many of whom didn’t even golf) that the membership drive (with help from Keith’s ownership group which took memberships in lieu of cash for the land) came very close to raising enough capital to forge ahead. As the closing date neared, with the membership drive stalled just short of its goal, success was at hand when a number of individuals were prevailed upon (Murray Pratt, Ross Keith, Ted Alport, Greg Murphy, Ervin and Dorothy Baber, Marg and Les Smith, Sharon and Len Blenkin, and Gretna Purvis) to become “patrons” of the club by buying multiple memberships each to put the project over the top.
Construction took place during the summer of 1997 and spring of 1998, with seeding completed in the spring of 1998. Using a tiny borrowed ATCO trailer as a clubhouse, the course opened for play on Saturday, July 25, 1998. Lance Gay, who had over 15 years prior experience at Deer Park in Yorkton, was hired prior to construction of the course and is the only superintendent the club has ever known. Lance initially worked with nothing more than a few tarps as protection from the elements. In subsequent years, renovations to an abandoned nurses’ residence moved to the site from the Balcarres hospital created a comfortable clubhouse with a phenomenal view of the valley and course. A maintenance building for Lance followed a couple years later. Finishing work continued on the course and finally, in 2001, with the pond on the second hole lined so it would retain water, construction of the course could truly be said to be complete.
Thanks to the beauty and tempting challenges of the course and the exemplary conditioning achieved by Lance and his small crew (an assistant, one other full time employee and a couple temporary employees), the reputation of the course has steadily grown by word of mouth, despite its stature as “only” a nine hole track. Players from across Canada and as far away as South Africa have raved about their experience at Katepwa. One typical response to the course came from a group visiting from Ontario who commented that their experience at Katepwa exceeded that of a previous outing only a few weeks earlier at Angus Glen, host of the 2002 Canadian Open Championship.
As a nine-hole course, Katepwa may never have the same recognition as other destination courses on the Great Plains within driving distance, such as Dakota Dunes near Saskatoon or The Links of North Dakota near Williston or Hawktree near Bismarck. However, as far as nine hole courses go, if there is a comparable or better nine hole course anywhere in Canada, be sure to play it. Perhaps the jost frequently asked question of visitors is whether there is the potential for Katepwa to expand to eighteen holes and the answer is yes, if adjacent land were to become available and if the Club could raise enough capital to purchase the land and construct the second nine. But for the immediate future, the Club expects to focus on strengthening and consolidating its membership base and doing its very best to maintain the highest quality of pure golf with incremental improvements to the course as operations allow.
Club membership is rather unique in that there are presently no mandatory annual fees to maintain membership. Members may pay nothing if they don’t plan to golf or may purchase a season pass or purchase rounds “in bulk” at a discount to the cost for non-members, giving them roughly one free round for every round paid.
Come visit us as a guest or future member and become a part of our story.