DUCK MOUNTAIN PROVINCIAL PARK - Soon to be wrapping up careers that have spanned more than 30 years, Darren and Sally Driscoll of Calgary are looking forward to the next chapter – spending their retirement years deeply involved with day-to-day operations at the breathtaking Madge Lake Golf Club in Duck Mountain Provincial Park.
In 2014, the majority owners partnered with Rich and Becki Patterson. Rich currently manages the grounds and credits his dynamic team for keeping the course in exceptional condition. Both Rich and Becki also spend much of their time cooking up tasty pub-style plates at the Par 69 Eatery.
Both couples are parents to three boys of similar ages who have all pitched in to help with operations over the years. Although the Driscoll’s busy schedules have prevented them from being involved with the club as much as they would like, with Darren’s upcoming retirement from his career as an accountant, the couple is dreaming of the opportunity to spend more time enjoying the course and supporting the hard-working team that have seen a banner year in 2021.
Darren is a born and raised Alberta boy who seems thrilled to have discovered the hidden gem in the mountains – and what he refers to as a “deceptively difficult” 18 holes cut right into thick forest and rolling terrain.
“This course first opened in 1966. It’s amazing to think it was all once thick with trees and wild bush. It took some incredible vision and hard work to carve out the course through the bush. And the way it’s turned out – it’s absolutely stunning.”
Prior to the Driscoll and Patterson families uniting in business, Rich’s father, Al Patterson, owned the course for over 20 years. As a CPGA pro, Driscoll credits Al as the driving force behind the highly successful club.
“I discovered the course when my wife introduced me to the Madge Lake area – where she enjoyed many of her childhood summers,” explained Driscoll. “My wife’s grandparents were Margaret and Lloyd Hunter of Kamsack. Lloyd was a former principal and Margaret was a grade three teacher.”
“It’s a really unique little course, and relatively short at 5522 yards. Most courses stretch beyond 6000 yards. So, a lot of people think that because it is shorter, they’re going to get a great score. But then the next thing they know – they’re looking for their ball in the trees. The course runs straight through beautiful thick forest and many of the holes are severely sloped and quite tricky. This course cannot be overpowered. You really have to think your way around it. I would say that it’s much more challenging than people expect. On top of that, it’s just so incredibly beautiful. It’s one of those courses you are tempted to just keep pulling out your camera because it’s so undeniably beautiful.”
With golf being one of the sports that could accommodate the regulations associated with COVID-19, Driscoll says this season has been remarkably successful. With nearby short-term cottage rentals and campgrounds, he describes Madge Lake as a destination for families or groups who want to spend some quality time at Duck Mountain Provincial Park, enjoying the golf, the beach, and great food and drinks without having to drive home at the end of the day.
Driscoll says the club is beyond grateful for a fiercely proud membership base of both young and old. A work-bee held in the spring saw over 50 volunteers coming out to chop trees and clear paths.
“Fun fact - we have two retirees on our grounds crew – a retired Regina policeman, Jay Jesky, and a retired Teacher, Ken Shabatoski. Both have been around the golf course forever and are key members of the team. We have relied heavily on our staff this year as traffic increased so significantly and we just couldn’t find enough workers. We are so appreciative of the heavy lifting every member of our team has done. And I should add a very important hire this year was local, Elodie Jordens as our Clubhouse Manager. She’s been so important to handling the increased volume inside.”
For more information or to book a tee time, visit madgelakegolf.com