The annual Green Jacket Golf Tournament at Chimney Lake has been moved ahead from its traditional date of this weekend to Saturday, Sept. 9 due to the wildfire situation in the region.
“We were wondering if we were going to put it on at all,” said Rusty Rustemeyer Chimney and Felker Lakes Landholders Association president. “We were concerned that with the fire alert if people would come and play but the alert was lifted last weekend.”
Since deciding to go ahead with the tournament on Sept. 9 he said they already have 25 people committed to playing. The tournament normally draws more than 40 participants so they are hoping at least that number will support the event again this year.
“Past Green Jacket winners will be playing in hopes of wearing the prize one more time,” Rustemeyer said.
The Chimney and Felker Lakes Land Holders Association is run by volunteers and supports the community’s volunteer fire department and Firemen’s Fairways, 11-hole, par-three golf course at Chimney Lake.
No pre-registration is required to participate in the tournament. Registration is at 9:30 a.m with the T-off between 10:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
The entry fee of $20 includes a baron of beef lunch and prizes for all players thanks to donations from local businesses, Rustemeyer said. For $10 he said people can also just come out and enjoy the lunch if they aren’t interested in playing golf.
“It’s a long fun day that usually ends late in the afternoon,” he adds.
Rustemeyer said he plays the course every day and it usually takes him 40 minutes to complete a round. In a tournament situation he said players can expect to complete the course in about an hour and a half.
Due to the wildfire situation in the Chimney Lake/Felker Lake area, coupled with alerts and the evacuation order, Rustemeyer said the association lost about $2,500 in revenue this summer.
The association lost four solid rental bookings for the fire hall plus normal revenue from the golf course which is about $500 per week in a normal year with at least five golfers playing on a good week day and 30 to 40 people playing on weekends.
Due to wildfires he said there was an evacuation alert on July 10, with an evacuation order coming down on July 15. The evacuation order was lifted on July 26 but the community was still on alert until Aug. 20, Rustemeyer said.
During the evacuation he said a small team of volunteer firefighters stayed behind to fight the fires and also took turns mowing the golf course, which was kept green using the automatic sprinkler system.
He said the volunteer fire department had great response from surrounding fire departments that donated equipment such as gloves, masks, backpack kits, a generator, and water to fight the fires.
The organization Cariboo Strong which sold T-shirts and stickers to raise money for the Red Cross and local community groups also donated $2,500 in cash, said Rustemeyer who expressed his appreciation for all the help the community received.
Twice a day he said RCMP, and representatives from other wildfire support organizations went around to check on vacant properties during the evacuation.
“As far as I’ve heard there hasn’t been one theft so people are very pleased with the tremendous support they have received,” Rustemeyer said.
He said most people were packed and ready to go when the first alert was issued but some ranchers stayed behind to look after their livestock.