Starting with a bare field and turning into a tree-lined golf course is quite a challenge, but for the Herder family it is a legacy.
With farming in the 1950s not going so well Louis Herder decided to turn his operation into what we know as Balmoral Golf Course.
The first nine holes were stark, treeless, with sand greens at a time when golfing wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today, but the family moved ahead.
It wasn’t long after, Louis died of a heart attack on Christmas Eve leaving the golf course business to his son Charlie, but it was slow going.
“Maybe not the best business at the time,” said Lesley McMahon, who along with husband John run the operation these days. “Things did improve but at the time it was a tough decision and a struggle for a very long time.”
The fact Balmoral is celebrating 50 years in a fragile business so dependant on weather and economics is a testament to the core values of the family.
“Just being very frugal and being true to who we were as a business, not trying to be something that we weren’t,” she said about how they approached their spending and making decisions on improving the golf course. “If we tried to be something that we weren’t or that we couldn’t be, we never would have survived.’
Dave Delane joined Balmoral in the 1970s and has stuck with the course ever since. He said one reason he’s stayed so long is because the family has always been so accommodating towards the golfers.
“We used to come early in the morning and golf before the clubhouse was even open, do our nine holes and come back when the clubhouse was open, pay our fees and go to work.”
It’s also a reason for Balmorals longevity (three courses in the region have closed their doors over the last few years), said McMahon.
“A lot of those customers have been with us for so long they have become a part of the family in one way or another and I think it builds that community that we have here and I think a lot of people come here for that community.”
Delane recalled the early days when planes used to land on what are now the 10th and 13th fairways which would be a real feat now with all the trees.
“Charlie had planted about 200 or 300 new trees and they were only about two to two and half feet high and throughout the 43 years here I’ve got to witness the maturity of those trees,” he said.
Lesley recalled planting many of those same trees by hand from a nursery the family started with the sole purpose of using them on the course.
“So every tree on the golf course was grown here and thank goodness at some point, I think 1978, we bought a tree spade so that we didn’t have to hand plant the trees anymore.”
One tree in particular, a maple watching over the path to the first tee, was planted by her grandfather and she said it’s not going to be removed.
“That one, no matter what happens has to stay,” she explained. “It’s never coming down, not by our hands that’s for sure.”
Lesley added she enjoys the business of golf and has always viewed the course as a family member.
“There’s my sister and I and the golf course is the youngest child, the spoiled child. It got everything.”