Golf North Delighted With Wolf Creek GR Purchase

Doug Breen

By Gord Montgomery, Inside Golf

With the sale of one of Alberta’s most iconic golf courses finalized, the new owners of the Wolf Creek Golf Resort feel they will definitely get their money’s worth in taking over the 36-hole property. In court filings from February 24, 2023, Golf North Properties, Inc., a company from Ontario, was shown to have paid slightly more than $4 million CDN* (see addendum below) to rescue the facility from receivership.

Speaking in a phone interview, Regional VP Doug Breen of the new ownership company said as soon as they saw the online presence of the courses and its background, they were all in with their attempt to add the rural property to their existing portfolio of over 34 golf courses. This, though, is their first venture into Wild Rose Country and, from the sound of it, they are happy to be here.

“It’s funny. The first thing you do, like everyone else, is [to] go on Google and type it (facility name) in and the first thing you see is ‘Where Canada Meets Scotland.’ We started leafing through pictures and I went, ‘Shawn (Golf North president Evans)! We really need to take a serious look at this one.’”

While the first on-site exposure they had to Wolf Creek was on a cold, wintery Alberta day with the ground covered in snow, the evaluation was a positive one, Breen continued. As for that tour, Breen, who is also an agronomist and a former course superintendent, noted, “Yeah, it was cold! There [are] two parts to that. One is we’ve been at this long enough so even if there were (course) issues we knew we could fix them. And the other side of it is, the superintendent (Mike Stewart) there is very, very good. He’s had a lot of experience, so I’m not concerned with that at all. We’ve bought a few golf courses over the years. This is number 40 for us,” although they have done such facility exploration over 50 times at other venues.

Breen continued by saying Golf North would, “Invest in the golf course right off the hop,” as opposed to perhaps putting funds into other facility repairs and/or upgrades. That though, he added, doesn’t include skipping out on any major issues. “We want to make sure the course is in the shape it should be to attract the golfer.

“You deal with what you’ve got and make improvements as you can and make sure people are getting good value for what they’re paying for.”

As for marketing their new purchase, that has already begun, especially in Eastern Canada and Ontario in particular. In doing so, they hope to bring those eastern golfers west to experience not only the famed Wolf Creek properties but all the other entities the province has to offer, including stampedes, football games, mountain golf, and more.

“It’s all about having something you can sell and I’m confident we can sell both those golf courses,” along with tours, said Breen.

While the purchaser was immediately taken by the original course on the property, which hosted 13 PGA of Canada events in the past, there is the second course as well. As of right now, the appraisal of The Links layout isn’t quite as emphatic. But, Breen noted, he’s yet to play it. “I’ll let you know after I’ve played it a couple of times, then I’ll have a stronger opinion.”

As for the Old Course, he stated, “It’s a design style I’m very fond of, having played a bit in Europe and Ireland, that really appealed to me. And the architect, (Rod) Whitman, is one of the best.”

As for Evans, who couldn’t be reached for comment on the purchase, this was his online statement when an official press release was issued in regard to their first property in Alberta. “GolfNorth is very happy to have a foothold in Alberta and we wish to extend a warm welcome to members and players alike. We’ve met with principal staff members and want to welcome them to the GolfNorth family as well. We’re thrilled to have been given the opportunity to be the stewards of these two excellent golf courses for years to come.”

To top things off, another issue at the property was put to rest. An agreement has been reached with the RV owners and their stake at Wolf Creek, Breem said, and it was one that left both sides pleased. “They understood the situation they were in. They’d made long-term commitments to a company that no longer existed. We came in and had literally zero obligation to do anything but also knowing that’s not the way to spend your first day in town. Basically what we did  is split the difference ... and what we got back was they seemed very pleased that we were more than fair with them and that’s what we had hoped for.”

So when all was said and done, Golf North Properties is now the owner of the Wolf Creek Golf Resort and they are thrilled to be taking over. Said Breem, “We’ve been looking at Alberta for a long time. Alberta is certainly a great province to do business in. There are a lot of positives there, a lot of upsides. We think it’s a great place to do business and we are really excited about it!”

*While no official word was issued by Breen on the cost of taking over Wolf Creek Golf Resort, a Temporary Sealing Order dated February 24, 2023, and posted online by MNP is below:

In accordance with paragraph 19 of the Confidential Supplement to the Receivers Second Report, the Receiver is hereby authorized and directed to make the following distributions from the sale proceeds as follows:

  • Repayment of Receivers Borrowings: $355,000.00;
  • Payment to Cobra Mortgage Services Ltd. (“Cobra”): $3,397,058.55;
  • Payment to John Deere Financial Inc. (“John Deere”): $212,196.45; 
  • Payment to Canadian Western Bank (“CWB”): $23,085.30; Payment to De Lange Landen Financial Services Canada Inc. (“DLL”): $89,891.51;
  • Total estimated distribution: $4,077,231.81, plus applicable accruing interest in respect of each of these Lenders to the date of payment. 7. Notwithstanding the terms of this Order, the Receiver and affected parties.