Greg Kennedy

Greg Kennedy

End of an era: Birchbank superintendent retires

Greg Kennedy retires after 27 years of dedicated care and service as the course superintendent at Birchbank Golf Course.

Greg Kennedy will put the Birchbank Golf Course to bed for the final time this month, as the course superintendent gets set to retire after 27 years of dedicated care and service at the century-old course.

The Birchbank course has been his home-away-from-home for almost three decades, and in this his final season, the 18-hole, almost seven-kilometre long, 150-acre course has never looked better.

“Even with budget cuts, the course condition, I mean my crew and I talk about it all the time, we figure this is the nicest year we’ve ever had,” said the 59 year old. “Everything came together with the weather . . . So we were all pretty happy, and I am happy to go out on a good note.”

Birchbank golfers would agree, course conditions were pristine this season and even in less-than-perfect years the sprawling, scenic course is always a pleasure to play, thanks for the most part to Kennedy and his quality staff.

“They’ve been just great. I’ve been very fortunate to have a great crew the whole time I’ve been here, and without them I couldn’t have done it. It’s a team effort that’s for sure.”

Kennedy grew up on a golf course in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, and worked at Qualicum and Eagle Crest Golf Courses before graduating from the turfgrass management program at University of Guelph in Ontario.

After graduation he became one of the youngest course superintendents in Canada at the age of 19, assisting then heading the grounds crew at Eagle Crest for about six years.

A brief stint at landscaping and law enforcement preceded a return to golf when Kennedy became a turf instructor at Fairview College in Alberta. He lasted five years in the northern agricultural community, until a job opened at Birchbank in the spring of 1987.

“I just wanted to get my hands dirty after that,” he said. “I was coming here (Trail) for one year and then work our way back to the coast, so 27-28 years later we’re still here.”

Kennedy has developed and groomed the Birchbank course into one of the Kootenays’ finest, replacing most of the greens, the irrigation, and electrical systems, adding over 20 sand-traps, improving its overall aesthetics with flowers, shrubs and trees, not to mention the everyday care and maintenance.

As a result, the Genelle resident has garnered awards and accolades, highlighted by the B.C. Golf Superintendents Association’s Superintendent of the Year in 2004, and was honoured at the CN Future Links Western Canadian Junior Golf championship hosted by Birchbank in July with the National Tournament plaque and a well-deserved nod for his almost 40 years of work as greenskeeper and course superintendent.

“He’s been a rock star,” said Birchbank professional Dennis Bradley following the tournament. “He puts in long hours and makes sure everything is done right.”

During his time at Birchbank, Kennedy also taught at Selkirk College in the golf management program for a decade, and in 1996 traveled to Malaysia to lay the foundation for a course-management program there.

But like most jobs, it is not without its challenges both on and off the course, particularly in the early years when Rossland-Trail Golf and Country Club included the Rossland and Birchbank courses.

“When I came here we had the two courses to take care of,” said Kennedy. “The 27 holes, we had the little nine-hole at Rossland. That was a challenge, we had to move equipment back and forth, and a whole different clientele than there was down here.”

Birchbank has undergone many changes since Kennedy started, and he has seen golfers, board directors, and golf pros come and go over the years, but he and his reliable crew have remained the one constant, always keeping up with the latest advancements, and supplementing his already vast knowledge with new courses on state-of-the-art methods, materials, and equipment.

Kennedy will climb onto his mower and ride off into the sunset at the end of November, and while he may be gone from Birchbank, he certainly doesn’t plan on staying away. Birchbank staff and members held a retirement party at the end of September and presented Kennedy with a membership among many other generous gifts.

Kennedy plans to keep working part time in another venue and will likely be a regular on the course, but content that gray snow mould is no longer his problem.

“I’ll be working somewhere, maybe a couple days a week, but I’ve had enough of the big worry, you know you can’t go home and not worry about the place, and I’ve done it for 27 years and it’s a young person’s job that’s for sure . . . but everything has to come to an end, but it’ll be tough, I mean it’s been my baby for all those years.”

*Birchbank welcomes Mark Lloyd to the position of superintendent. Lloyd was the former assistant superintendent at the Creston Golf Club.

Just Posted

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

South Slocan’s Ti Loran is among the recipients of this year’s Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
Neil Muth Memorial Scholarships awarded to 4 students

Students in Creston, South Slocan and Revelstoke are sharing the honour

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

A wildfire near Cottonwood Lake was put out by Nelson firefighters Sunday night. Photo: Submitted
Wildfire extinguished near Cottonwood Lake

Lightning-caused fire was near one of Nelson’s water sources

West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Central Mountain Air leaving Castlegar airport in July

The airline says market can’t handle two airlines

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read