CLYDE RIVER — Playing the Clyde River Golf and Country Club this year may hold an extra feeling of nostalgia for Island golfers.
The club is seeing some major changes which will bring the course’s history around full circle, says owner Oswald (Ozzie) MacEachern.
The club, which features P.E.I.’s only 27-hole course, will operate in a different clubhouse this year and will also see the 18-hole track change. MacEachern estimates the season will open around the third week of April depending on weather.
The new location and layout will be deja vu for many, as the clubhouse will be moving back to its former building just down the road.
To fit the move, the course will also revert back to the original 18-hole track. The newest nine will serve as a stand alone.
“It just felt right,” MacEachern said during an interview with The Guardian inside the former clubhouse. “Really, when it was all said and done. I don’t think we should have moved out of here.”
He said members have seemed receptive to the move, which will see food and beverage served from the clubhouse’s second level with the original pro shop underneath.
Expanding the overall space available, the move also creates the possibility of using the second floor for other functions and more room for tournaments, said MacEachern, who added he’s interested in using the area to promote the south shore in a more family-oriented direction.
A lifelong resident of the area, MacEachern originally designed a nine-hole course on his family’s farmland out of a passion for the community and yearning to see the land “stay green.”
The original nine holes sit where his grandmother’s ancestral home had been, land MacEachern had also farmed himself, with the family deed to the property going back to 1796.
The course was later expanded to 18 holes in 1996, and again to 27 holes in 2008. Throughout the expansions, the course never forgot its roots. The three nine hole sections carry the family names of MacEachern, Darrach and MacLean (which was changed this year from Cameron).
However, with the growth also came some pains.
In 2010, MacEachern moved the pro shop to its now former location. It was a decision he now regrets.
”It was tried and true and we shouldn’t have really deviated from that. In hindsight, it’s easy to see but this is what the market was telling us we should be doing,” he said.
“(But) we shouldn’t be looking at what other people are doing, we should be concerned with what we’re doing and what we’ve always done successfully was to give a good quality product at an affordable rate. This spring, it’s a new staff, a new outlook and getting back to the old.”
While MacEachern said he’d like to think his three sons, Jeremy, Adam and Andrew, will eventually take over the course, he knows that’s looking far to the future and he is more focused with preparing for the upcoming season.
“I don’t want to push them too soon because I really think for me I should be the GM for a while,” said MacEachern, who is stepping back into the role this season after taking care of the outside maintenance for the past few years. He said he’s looking forward to taking on the role, which will allow him interact with his members and new golfers more.
There’s one golfer in particular he’s looking forward to seeing on the greens.
Now a grandfather, MacEachern’s grandson will signal a new generation of his family on the course.
“I know he’s going to be out some with his practice clubs. It’s going to be a pretty neat feeling to see that next generation out swinging,” he said.
“Its good for an old fella like me to see that. That your payoff for all the sweat and labour. That’s really what it’s all about for me.”
For more info on Clyde River Golf and Country Club, visit www.clyderivergolf.ca.