Fate of N.S. golf club uncertain, members say

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ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, N.S. – The ownership of a Nova Scotia golf club appears in limbo, but members of the facility said they’re pulling together to keep the 18 hole course running until its fate becomes clear.

Sid Young, course superintendent at the Annapolis Royal Golf and Country Club, said he was shocked to find a letter from owners Harry and Jacqui Shepherd last week thanking him for his volunteer service.

“It didn’t take rocket science to read between the lines that they weren’t coming back,” Young said in an interview Saturday. “I can only speculate, like most people, that at some point in they saw the end was near and they decided to leave.”

Young said he believes the Shepherds walked away from their business of 12 years to return to the United Kingdom, potentially putting about six staff members out of work.

Since the owners’ apparent departure, Young said he and a small group of volunteers have been maintaining the course, including an octogenarian who has been pitching in to make sure the course is groomed.

“The mood is fantastic around here. It’s the whole town backing us,” said Young. “They realize we’re not being reimbursed for any of our work. We just love the game of golf, we love the golf course, and (intend to do) anything we could possibly do to keep it.”

Dale Hoyt, president of the Annapolis Royal Golfers Association, said there were signs that the business, which has less than 100 members, was under “financial strain.”

“I’m disappointed they left the place the way that they did and left the membership in the mess that we’re in,” said Hoyt. “It’s been a roller coaster trying to figure out what we’re able to do what we’re allowed to do.”

The course had been on the market for several years, Hoyt said. Even with a crew of volunteers, he said, the Shepherds had to take on the work of several employees just to keep the business afloat.

“No matter what you can come up with to say about the owners, Harry and Jacqui, no one can deny how hard they worked as membership declined,” he said. “I don’t think they assumed we were going to keep running it.

“For the love of the golf course, we’ve just taken over and done that, and we want to make sure that we keep doing that because once you let a golf course grow and you don’t maintain it … it can quickly become just a hay field.”

Hoyt said he has been “besieged” by offers to help keep the roughly 93-year-old golf course open for tee time and community fundraisers.

Members of the club are expected to meet in upcoming days to determine what their next steps should be, said Hoyt.

“Unless I could win a couple million dollars and buy it myself, I would like to see the membership own it, so as a group, we could control our own destiny,” he said.

The Shepherds could not immediately be reached for comment. As of Saturday, Nova Scotia’s registry of joint stocks lists Jacqui Shepherd as a recognized agent for the business.