The Brenton Beat

 

President’s Letter

April 10, 2022

Mount Brenton members,

You may be aware of some discontent among certain league members due to the rules enacted by your Board of Directors for this season. Chief among these is the requirement for a minimum number of active participants, 24 for men and 20 for women, to qualify for league status.

As an elected board, we also voted to continue to use running tee times rather than shotgun starts. Both decisions were based on the recommendation of the League Committee, comprised of the Club Captain, the Club Pro and three directors, as well as input from the Grounds Superintendent. The Club Captain also met with all league organizers and the entire board.

The Sunday Men’s League has objected to these rules and has applied to have two motions put before the AGM: the first to reduce the participant number for a league to 12; the second, to reintroduce shotgun starts.

The Board has declined to accept either of these motions for the upcoming AGM. The company’s Articles of Incorporation require that the directors manage the golf course in the most responsible manner for all members. The Board is elected by the membership to make necessary decisions for the orderly and efficient operation of the business and affairs of the company.

If an individual or small group of members can use general meetings (where quorum is set at only five percent of members) to overturn any rule that they don’t like, no Board decision put in place for the efficient operation and financial management of Mount Brenton would be safe from special interest groups.

Obviously, major changes in direction of the club, large financial expenditures or changes to the articles must be brought before the shareholders at an annual or special general meeting, but this is not the case with these motions.

The case for limiting league status

It is important for you to know that this Board has no bias against leagues. We believe they are important for certain club members. However, as we see from participant numbers, most members prefer recreational golf. The Board attempts to govern in a balanced manner, recognizing the needs and wants of all members.

The decision to limit league status to 24 and 20 participants on a weekly basis was made to prevent any small group calling itself a league and establishing a right to guaranteed tee times. Otherwise, every day of the week could be populated by “leagues” at the expense of recreational golfers.

We already know groups populate the tee sheet five or six mornings a week and operate as a quasi-league. The important difference is that they must compete with everyone else for available tee times.

The high cost of shotgun starts

While shotgun starts were the norm for many years at Mount Brenton, they have the effect of reducing the quality of the golf experience for most of the members by tying up tee times and making it hard for the crew to keep the course in top condition.

Originally designed with large groups in mind, shotgun starts (yes, in 1956 a shotgun blast was used in Walla Walla, Washington to signal players across the course to begin play) have foursomes teeing off at the first hole and at the same time at several holes on the back nine.

In the normal course of day-to-day maintenance, greens are prepped early each morning, so that crews stay well ahead of golfers for obvious safety reasons. Shotguns interrupt this process by necessitating greens work on the front nine in the usual sequential order, while another crew or crews are simultaneously at work on multiple holes on the back nine.

I’m sure many of you understand the amount of maintenance greens require, including sweeping, cutting, rolling, fertilizing, pest control and hole location changes. And, of course, this work can only be done in the morning from daybreak to start-up. In other words, a very tight window of two hours max.

The golf course is a seven-day operation, but our crew works a 40-hour week, and those five workdays must be spread over seven days to properly maintain the course. Therefore, the superintendent only has a full crew available perhaps three days a week and often fewer when illness, time off, or other circumstances arise.

Sundays are a particularly challenging time to hold shotgun starts, as usually only a skeleton crew of two or three is in action then. Fuller crews are required for weekdays to take on the maintenance, repair, and both short- and long-term projects required to keep this course running.

The Board believes that while shotgun starts can be an effective way to manage tournaments and inter-club and club competitions, they are not a good use of our resources several days a week, as was the case before the pandemic.

Many BC golf clubs are re-examining league play

Mount Brenton is not alone regarding league play. Many clubs on the Island and elsewhere have abandoned, or moderated play (moved play to afternoons, no shotguns, etc.) in the face of high player demand.

To put this in context, the pandemic created a situation in which it was necessary to cancel all league play at clubs in BC. Last year, leagues were allowed to resume at Mount Brenton, albeit with a shortened season and with running tee times.

This experience, with either no leagues or leagues with running starts, created some interesting benefits. Many of you have noticed and are still commenting on the great condition of our greens and the course in general, making MBGC’s course the envy of our close competitors.

This is not by accident. For the first time in many years, our superintendent has been able to employ a regular, full-force maintenance program for the course and especially the greens, without the interference of shotgun starts several times a week.

One other key aspect of shotgun starts is the impact on available tee times. Many members assume a shotgun takes no more tee times than a running start, because it involves the same number of golfers. But when you have two disparate groups of golfers on the course at the same time in different locations, buffer zones in the form of blank tee times must be created to avoid groups running into each other on the course.

The number of tee times, whether employed at the front, back or both, depends on the size of the shotguns. During these times of high demand by members we can ill afford to lose available tee times.

The Board will consider allowing shotgun starts for inter-club events and tournaments at Mount Brenton on a case-by-case basis.

Also, it is not impossible that the Board may consider selected dates for shotguns for leagues, most notably a league wind-up tournament in the fall. That is something for the new board to consider, on application by the individual leagues.

This issue and other controversies may be brought up at the AGM, which could prove livelier than usual. It is important that you the shareholder/owners of this course attend, have your voices heard, gain knowledge of our financial status and the direction the club is charting especially in terms of strategic planning. Consider also having direct input in Board decisions by running for election to the Board. This ship doesn’t steer itself!

Chris Fritsch
President
MBGC

(The Board is interested in hearing your responses (collum1947@gmail.com).

 

Tee time booking revision
The current pro shop policy of cancelling “guest” from tee bookings the day before play has been updated.
Members who initially booked the time sometimes forget to call the pro shop to confirm participation of their pals. The problem arose if the members whose “guests” had been cancelled didn’t check their emails.
What happened next? Members who took advantage of the empty spots showed up as did the people originally slated to play, causing undue confusion for pro show staff.
The new procedure is the word “guests” will be replaced by the word “public”, and the member who booked will get an email showing that.
That member will have an opportunity to call the pro shop about the reason why they are playing with the “public”.
Let’s see how it goes.

The 55+ BC Games will take place in Victoria from Sept. 13-17.
Gordon Oates, Lower Vancouver Island Golf Coordinator, is looking for a full field of competitors from our zone.
The playdown is slated for Friday, May 27, at Cedar Hill Golf Course and a second course still to be determined.
To register, go to 55plusgames.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/2022-membership-registration-form-FINAL-fillable.pdf.
Feel free to contact Gordon Oates (250-665-7434) with questions.

Cart owners who haven’t picked up their 2022 stickers, please do so at the office.
The green on hole 16 has been reopened after major renovations and it looks great. Kudos as usual to Ernie and his stalwart crew.

New penalties for on-course alcohol infractions
It looks (from the 800 or so empties, 80% of which were unlabelled, found in the recycle bins over 19 days) as though Mount Brenton golfers have mistaken this for a BYOB course.

It is not!

The BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) provides strict guidelines and rules for alcoholic beverage service on golf courses and monitors it closely.

Under BC’s liquor laws, all liquor consumed on our course must be purchased at the course and specially labelled as such. Outside liquor is defined as any liquor (including beer) not purchased at MBGC. The club is required to limit the quantity of beverages it will sell to individuals, and this is the primary way LRCB rules help limit over consumption on or adjacent to the course. Through education and regulation, LRCB rules are intended to help make sure that the service and sale of liquor is done according to law and in a way that keeps customers, guests, and others safe from alcohol-related harm.

The intent is control, not prohibition. The LCRB is not opposed to liquor being sold and consumed on golf courses. It is a legal and socially acceptable practice that provides enjoyment and relaxation for those golfers who choose to imbibe while playing or share a drink with their playing partners after a round.

The issue with outside alcohol is that its distribution cannot be effectively controlled, and the risks of over consumption, legal liability, impaired driving, and violence are significantly heightened.

The MBGC Board fully supports these principles.
Over consumption of alcohol detracts from everyone’s enjoyment. The terms of MBGC’s liquor license require the Board of Directors, our staff, and all members to be diligent in trying to prevent the consumption of outside alcohol. We must take this responsibility seriously or risk serious consequences. The LCRB also does frequent inspec1ons to monitor what takes place on the property.
Failure to abide by the rules may result in substantial fines levied against the club, the food and beverage contractor, and staff members, as well as suspension or removal of the permit.
In the fall of 2021, complaints were made to the LCRB about golfers bringing and consuming outside liquor purchased on our course. The LCRB contacted the Board and since that time LCRB officials and MBGC Board members have met on multiple occasions to discuss the specific complaints and the general expectations for control of liquor on golf courses.
The LCRB has identified the problem of outside liquor being consumed on Vancouver Island golf courses as a serious concern and is ramping up their monitoring of this ac1vity.
As a result, the Board has adopted a zero-tolerance policy with respect to outside alcohol.
As permitted under our liquor license, we can, and will, search golf bags, carts, and coolers if there is any indication that they may contain outside alcohol and all outside alcohol found will be confiscated. All our staff—pro shop, grounds crew, office managers and course marshals—are empowered to report all rule breaches.
And we ask you, as members and owners of our golf course, to be vigilant and report alcohol-related transgressions to either the pro shop, office, or the restaurant. All incidents will be documented and reported to the Board and as required, to the LCRB.
Our zero-tolerance policy will contain a three-pronged progression of penalties for both members and public golfers.
First offence — the golfer or golfers found in possession of outside alcohol will be asked to leave the course immediately and will receive a written warning from the Board. No refund or rain check will be given.
Second offence — automatic 30-day suspension of booking and playing privileges from date of infraction.
Third offence — immediate indefinite suspension, and the golfer or golfers will be subject to a Board disciplinary hearing which may result in further penalties up to and including permanent banishment from the course or termination of membership.
The consumption of any alcohol in our parking lots and in or near the cart shed is strictly prohibited and subject to the same penalties but may also involve the RCMP.
Alcohol service hours are set by the LCRB from 10 am to closing from Monday to Saturday and from 11 am to closing on Sundays.
The LCRB also has prescribed minimum limits on pricing of beverages. In the coming weeks the Board and the Restauranteur will be discussing operating hours for the restaurant and snack shack and reviewing alcohol pricing to aid in the goal of eliminating outside alcohol from MBGC. A safe, friendly, and welcoming environment should be a basic expectation for all golfers at Mount Brenton Golf Club.
Aligning ourselves with LCRB policy is a reasonable, fair, and important responsibility for our members and the public.
Mount Brenton Board of Directors
The Brenton Beat

A REMINDER TO FILL IN NAMES ON THE TEE SHEET
With the upcoming better weather, the tee sheet will be filling up again, so make sure that when you book a time be prepared to put the names of your playing partners on the sheet.
The most efficient way is to hit “Confirm booking” when you have selected the time slot and then go back into the sheet and add the names of the fellow members with whom you are playing. You have five minutes from the time of getting your preferred slot in which to fill out the names of your partners.
You don’t need to call the pro shop with guest names. We only need names filled in if they are members. However, they do need to edit the booking to “public” or let us know that they are bringing a green fee player. Also, if you want to add an intermediate player, you can edit the category to intermediate or student.
Empty slots or no shows cost the club money from green fee players or keeps other members from playing.
Twenty-four hours – the day before – the pro shop will delete positions if your tee sheet isn’t properly filled out.

KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR HANDICAP
A reminder that only scores posted on the club computer or directly with BCGA/RCGA are recognized for tournament or interclub play.
Just record your hole-by-hole score and the computer will automatically adjust the scores to comply with the handicap index scoring system.
Scores posted on our Chronograph app aren’t considered official.

GREEN FEE PLAY
Four prime time morning green fee tee times will be reintroduced April 1.

GROUNDS UPDATE
Our superintendent says barring unforeseen bad weather, the 90-degree rule for power carts will reintroduced soon.
The crew will be removing the plastic ball lifters from the flags soon, but don’t take that as an invitation to scoop your ball out of the cup as that action damages the lip.

JUNIOR PROGRAM
Club pro Jan Best and member Ed Chan are planning to restart a junior program at our club. If it is a go, the program will begin Wednesday, June 28, and run until Aug.30. Details in a future Brenton Beat.

Peter Collum, editor, the Brenton Beat.