Pemberton Valley golf course back in business 

New owner Don Millerd sets sights on May opening

The Pemberton Valley Golf and Country Club is under new ownership as of Monday, March 31, with a group led by Dom Millerd completing their purchase of the course from the Royal Bank of Canada.

The club, unable to pay its debts, dissolved in August of 2007 and the course and its assets were seized by Royal Bank. The bank paid the bills until the end of the season, and prepared to place the facility in receivership in January.

More than a dozen bids were made for the public course but it was Millerd’s, under the aegis of Mountain Valley Golf, that was successful.

“It was a long process, but it’s all happening now,” said an enthusiastic Millerd on Monday. “There were some legal matters over the lease that slowed things down through most of the winter, and the receiver wasn’t appointed until January. We hoped that things would have been wrapped up by the middle of February, but they weren’t and here we are.

“There’s no question that it’s later than we would have liked or that we still have a lot of work to do, but it will be ready.”

Millerd, who has run Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef for almost 40 years, is a longtime resident, and has always enjoyed the course. He hasn’t had much time to play recently, dividing his time between the ranch and a second home in Horseshoe Bay, but felt that the once-struggling course was a golden opportunity.

“I’ve always felt that it was a gem of a facility that just needed a little revitalization,” he said. “There’s some work to be done there. The first year we’ll be investing capital in the course itself… which has suffered from a lack of adequate funding over the years. The cart paths need to be redone, and some of the bunkers, green and tee boxes need a bit of work.

“The second year we’ll be figuring out what facilities we want and what it will look like.”

The details of the sale are between Millerd, partner Gord Bell of Hanily Golf Management and the Royal Bank of Canada. However, despite his investment and capital improvements to the course Millerd says the goal is to maintain the club as a community course.

“Put it this way,” he said. “Our aim is for the course to be local, affordable and fun, and not any more expensive than in the past.”

Millerd acknowledges that some previous members of the society that managed the club have lost the money they invested in the property, which he called unfortunate.

“We’re starting with new ownership, new management, and new everything,” he said, including staff.

“We don’t know who the staff is or was coming into the course, but we’re going to be putting up the ‘help wanted’ signs and hopefully a lot of those folks will be back,” he said.

Even starting from scratch, Millerd is confident that the course will have its grand opening on May 9, with a soft opening beforehand. Details of the grand opening are being finalized, but Millerd said he wants to make a splash in the community.

In a statement, Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy welcomed the new management when the lease was signed last week.

“To secure a locally based, well-financed and experienced golf course operator was council’s goal in reassigning the lease, and fortunately I think we have that,” he said. “I am excited about the future of the Pemberton Valley Golf Course under its new management.”

While Millerd has no experience running golf courses, minor partner Gord Bell has managed golf facilities for the District of West Vancouver, consulted for courses in the District of North Vancouver, and helped to manage the Pemberton Valley Golf and Country Club last summer.

The club manages an 18-hold, par 72 course with a yardage of 5,211 to 6,407 yards (red to blue tees). Assets include a newly renovated clubhouse with a restaurant and lounge, a pro shop, and a practice putting green. It’s located on Airport Road, just past Big Sky Golf Club.

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