A course that was once mowed by sheep, and to this day still does not have access to water or power, has still managed to swing out 50 successful years on the links.
Started back in 1961, the Lumby Golf Course became a reality thanks to Lumby residents Joe and Josie Martin.
After being introduced to the sport by friends in Alberta, the couple set out to create Lumby’s own nine-hole golf course.
Just east of Lumby on Highway 6, friends across the highway from the Martins donated 40 acres to the cause.
“We lined up 12 interested friends,” Josie reports in Alan Dawe’s book Golf Courses of B.C. “Each of us put $10 in the kitty. We hired a big Town and Country machine from Vernon to come out and underbrush the property.
“We also got Reg Betts, who was then the pro at the Vernon Club, to lay out a nine-hole course for us.”
Small greens made of sand were carved out along the high bench of sloping land. The land was eventually purchased and the club quickly became popular among all who golfed.
“A lot of people who used to say we’re golfing in a cow pasture are now enthusiastic members of our club,” said Josie.
While they eventually acquired greenskeeping equipment, during the first year of operation the Martins didn’t even have a mower to cut the greens.
Instead they used a herd of sheep to graze the land.
A clubhouse was also acquired, although to this day it isn’t powered.
“We bought it for $1 and we still use it,” said Thompson.
Along with zero electricity, the club relies solely on the rain to keep the course green.
“It’s dry as bone up there but we keep playing,” said 79-year-old Dorothy Catt, who has played the course since 1982.
Along with power and water, the club operates without any staff.
“It’s all volunteers,” said Thompson. “We don’t have any paid employees. It’s us that go up and rake it and mow it.”
Individual golfers are also relied on to rake up the sand greens after their shot.
But as each member will attest, with its valley views of the Monashee and Camels Hump mountains and surrounding farmlands, there’s something serene about playing the Lumby Golf Club.
“It’s a beautiful spot, it’s so peaceful up there,” said 76-year-old June O’Rourke, a member for 20 years.
Few can also complain about the $5 game fee (or $100 membership).
“Where else can you go for $5 a day?” said O’Rourke.
Thompson adds: “A lot of people pay $100 for one round.”
With just 30 members, the club also offers a leisurely game with little pressure. And there’s rarely a wait for tee times.
“There’s nobody riding your backside all the time,” said Thompson, who enjoys being able to take a break on one of the rest stops and take in the views.
A little extra time is almost essential since out-of-sight greens and sloping fairways make for some tricky shots on the course.
“Hack and chalk, hack and chalk,” recalls O’Rourke of her earlier golfing days.
While the course may be steep, it’s nothing the members, whose average age is between 70 and 80, can’t handle.
“We have ladies in their 80s who still walk the course,” said Catt, who admits that she’s enjoying the cart her and her husband purchased a while ago.
O’Rourke adds: “That’s what keeps us young.”
The Lumby Golf Club marks its golden anniversary Saturday with current members living in Lumby and area and past members from as far as northern Alberta.
The event includes golfing (registration at 9:30 a.m.), chipping contests, putting contests, bocce games and more, as well as a lunch.
The cost for the day is $10. Anyone interested in attending can call Dorothy 250-547-6994, June 250-547-6979 or Angie at 250-547-2023.