Hudson Bay Fur Brigades trekked through it, cowboys watched their cattle and horses graze on it and an Oliver butcher once used the grounds as a feed lot for his animals.
The 500 rolling acres that make up St. Andrews By-The-Lake golf course and the surrounding area has had many uses, one of them being a home to wildlife, of ultimate importance to the golf course. The people who reside near the course are conscious of anything management does that may affect it. It’s the Painted Turtle, however, that gives character to the course.
“We have a little turtle island in the middle of the pond on (hole) six,” said office manager Shelley Pohlmann, of the hole built specifically for the turtles. “Usually there’s dozens of them on there.”
Visiting golfers who come out to play the 2,000-plus yard course comment on the nature.
“The turtles and the deer is what they really enjoy,” said Pohlmann, adding they mention how colourful and beautiful the turtles are.
Steve Toth, advertising and promotions for St. Andrews By-The-Lake Golf, said their challenging signature hole is one of the areas that has become a home for the turtles, which are an endangered species. They require conditions which the golf course pays special attention to. “Wetlands and ponds for hiding and foraging, adjacent to upland areas with soils suitable for nesting” are important according to a report published by the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks.
However, Painted Turtles aren’t the only wildlife at the course. It isn’t unusual to see osprey fish, blue herons and Pohlmann said it’s nearly impossible to play a round without seeing deer.
“Once they get out here, they are bulled over by the scenic beauty,” said Toth of visiting golfers. “The golf course itself, we’re nestled in a punch bowl in the mountains. It’s just an absolutely beautiful site.”
Bob Bateman has played the executive nine-hole course
As for playing the executive-sized, nine-hole course for 20 years and said it is well suited for older players.
“You don’t have to hit the ball really long,” said Bateman of the 2,070 yard course from the men’s tees and 1,819 from the women’s. “There is a lot of challenge to it. There is no real easy holes.”
The course, which has five par 4s and four par 3s, can be played in under two hours. The toughest is the signature hole on No. 7 and Bateman said the island green “is a challenge for everybody.”
Water surrounds the hole, staring down the golfers.
“Something funny happens to your swing,” said Bateman, who plays five times a week. “It’s a challenge always to put the ball on the island.”
Bateman said that visitors love the setting with the lake and willows.
“They like the fact that they can play either nine or 18, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s nice and relaxing.”
Tapping into their heritage, the golf course boasts great food in the Thirsty Turtle Restaurant. While satisfying an appetite with good pub food and a cold beverage, golfers can also take in a panoramic vista of the course from the club deck.
“It’s probably one of the best kept secrets in the Southern Okanagan,” said Toth, adding St. Andrews By-The-Lake Golf Course won the Okanagan Life magazine’s Reader’s Choice award five times for Best Golf Course in the South Okanagan.
St. Andrews By-The-Lake Golf Course is located south of Penticton near the Astrophysical Observatory on White Lake Road.