Originally from southern Alberta, golf course architect Trevor Dormer has lived and worked in cities and exotic locations all over the world, from Tokyo, Moscow and Bangkok to his most recent project, Cabot St. Lucia in the Caribbean, but it’s Kimberley he calls home.
That’s why he’s the perfect candidate to design the stunning new holes at Purcell Golf, home of the historic Kimberley Golf Club.
Walking the rugged grounds along the St. Mary River, down a steep cliff face below the existing holes of the golf course, it’s hard to picture fairways, greens and bunkers. However, in the company of Dormer, who carries a three iron with him to help visualize golf shots, one can begin to grasp his process, and how he turns his vision into reality.
“A lot of my design philosophy is based off of I would say pre-World War construction methodologies and design philosophies,” Dormer told the Bulletin. “So we try not to move much dirt. We try not to disrupt the natural landforms that are out here, we try to keep the natural drainage system that the land already has in itself intact and just route golf over top of it.”
Dormer has an impressive resume, especially for a golf course architect who’s not yet 40. His career began when he was 22, taking a job with Jack Nicklaus designs on the company’s first build in Russia. His work with Coore and Crenshaw has seen him working on some of the most stunning courses on the planet, including Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia and Yokohama Country Club in Japan.
That said, Dormer has high hopes for his current project at Purcell.
“We’ve got a good team of people in place — the support that I have behind me is just overwhelming and I feel extremely blessed to be hired to do this in my home town and I don’t take that lightly,” he said.
“I’m really going to knock this one out of the park and it’s probably the most significant project that I’ve had in my career to date and like I said I don’t take that lightly. I’m going for it and everybody on this team is going for it, so in the years to come there’s going to be some big things happening here.”
Dormer likes to work with the natural environment the golf course is situated in, utilizing and integrating the natural terrain and plant life, rather than scrapping it and starting from scratch.
“I take a little bit of the old way of doing things, but with new equipment,” he explained. “So we have smaller equipment and we’re trying to keep our carbon footprint low, we’re trying to merge all of our features and fairways into the native landscape and then also transplant the native grasses and bring that into our fairways and use that as much as we can.
“All of the construction materials that we have, except for the greens mix is within this area, it’s contained in our site. We’re keeping everything as much as we can for our hauling and importing and exporting of materials within a kilometre or two, maximum.”
Purcell’s Director of Golf Simon Jones came across Dormer’s work on the internet and when he learned that he called Kimberley home, reached out to see if Dormer would be interested in building the new golf holes that will replace the holes being removed to accommodate the building of the Purcell Collegiate Collegiate School.
Jones has been with the club for around six years now and has been a key figure in this exciting evolution taking place at Kimberley’s oldest golf course. The two new holes that are already in play, The Nursery and The Perch, were built last year by Jones, Dormer’s partner Matt Mitchell and superintendent Tim Foley, with Dormer contributing via correspondence from an overseas project. He then came back home in September and installed the bunkers in front of the Perch.
Comparing it to a show home, Jones said The Perch gives members and guests of the course a taste of whats to come in the next two years. A short, yet daunting 150 to 120 yard shot over a gully chasm to a small, protected green featuring tricky undulations.
“[The Perch] gives you a glimpse of what’s coming in terms of these six holes down here so it’s a bit of a showcase,” Jones said. “The view that we expose there with the St. Mary river and Bootleg Mountain in the background, a lot of the members that have played there for years have never seen this view so again I think this is kind of the reveal of what’s coming down below.”
According to Dormer, regarding the from members about the new holes thus far: “everybody loves them.”
Originally the plan was to put four new holes in along the river, but the team soon realized it was just too good to only put four down there, so now there will be six. Construction of a whole new clubhouse is also coming down the pipe. There’s still tons of work to be done, but Dormer expects to start putting seed into the ground in early to mid August.
The new holes will have a lot of breadth, have exquisite views and will first and foremost, be extremely fun to play for all skill levels.
“It’s going to be, we’re hoping, one of the top courses here in the Kootenays, if not in southern B.C., if not all of B.C.” Dormer said. “That’s our goal and we’re going to try our best to do it.”