Despite Loss Of Clubhouse, Northern Bear GC Ready To Roar In 2024

By Gord Montgomery, Senior Writer, Inside Golf

SHERWOOD PARK, Alberta — Despite a fire that caused literally millions of dollars in damage this past January, the Northern Bear Golf Course, which is located east of Edmonton, is ready to roar in 2024.

In a phone interview, the club’s Director of Golf Blair McDowell noted that even with the devastation caused by the massive blaze, the operational schedule for the coming golf season is in place. And they’re looking forward to having business, almost as usual, tee off.

In the early morning hours of a brutally cold mid-January morning, with temperatures in the area of -40°C plus a windchill, a blaze swept through the upscale building. It not only completely destroyed the structure but also all the interior furnishings, office equipment, golf products, and, to top that off, the course’s fleet of power golf carts, which were stored beneath the complex. But that hasn’t stopped the Jack Nicklaus design from looking forward to the upcoming season, McDowell noted.

“Obviously it’s taken some time to process. The golf course will be open status quo this year. The only thing we’ll have (different) is temporary facilities for a year or two. We won’t have our clubhouse but we will have all our events, with the exception of weddings. We’ll have all our tournaments, and one of your questions probably is about our PGA event (ATB Classic on the PGA TOUR AMERICAS schedule). We’re still hosting that and other events as well.”

McDowell went on to say that the golf course itself suffered no damage and as a result, the major tournament won’t be affected.

“A lot of the focus wasn’t on the actual clubhouse (at the ATB Classic). It’s on the golf course and those types of things. I think we’ll continue to go ahead with that event.”

As to the cause and the cost associated with this disaster, McDowell answered this way: “Unfortunately, to this day we haven’t got any cause. They’re still working on that. It’s a slow process, obviously. For us, yeah, it was a big loss. It was one of the nicest clubhouses in Western Canada for sure, and probably Canada. We’ll sure miss it.

“They haven’t put a number on it,” but the pro noted that everything was insured.

As for losing the power carts in the inferno, McDowell said that was actually a bad/good thing. You see, the course was expecting delivery of a new fleet of carts, which were ordered prior to the fire and were expected within a day or two of this interview taking place.

Speaking about going forward, the pro said the outpouring of public support has been somewhat overwhelming and uplifting since the loss.

“We’ve been very busy, believe it or not, with support. Our members have all renewed and we’ve had more people ask about memberships this year and say they want to support Northern Bear. That’s been great in that respect. It’s amazing how many people were all over this, sending well wishes. It was crazy how all this went down.”

For the next while, tents and trailers will be set up including housing a kitchen to accommodate everyday play as well as tournament action, so despite a massive loss, the Northern Bear GC is all set, as said before, to roar in 2024.