Nova Scotia

Owners abandon Nova Scotia golf course, return to U.K., volunteers say

Members of the 18-hole golf course in Annapolis Royal, N.S., awoke to find that the owners appear to have abandoned the business and returned home to England.

Members wait on creditors to determine future of the Annapolis Royal Golf Club

The president of the executive of the Annapolis Royal Golf Club, Dale Hoyt, says the last few years have been a "struggle" for many golf courses in Nova Scotia. (Dale Hoyt)

The owners of the 18-hole golf course in Annapolis Royal, N.S., abandoned their business under the cover of darkness last week, and it doesn't look like they're coming back, the volunteer superintendent says.

Sid Young, who mowed the course approximately six hours each day as a volunteer, said owners Harry and Jacqui Shepherd left the property at 3816 Hwy. 1 at some point overnight on Aug. 22 or early morning on Aug. 23.

Hearts bleed for this place right now.- Dale Hoyt

Young assumed they were shopping for supplies in Halifax, but they never returned.

Staff and volunteers at the Annapolis Royal Golf Club & Royal Eatery subsequently received personalized letters which suggested "they weren't coming back," he said.

The #15 fairway has a view of the Annapolis River. (Dale Hoyt)

CBC reached out to the Shepherds to confirm what happened, but didn't receive a response. Their website indicates they moved to Annapolis Royal from northern England in 2005.

Young said he doesn't know whether staff members, who include five full-time and two part-time workers, have been paid what they were owed. He added that volunteers have reached out to creditors in the hopes of saving the club.

Sid Young (left) and Dale Hoyt (right) at the Annapolis Royal Golf Club. (Dale Hoyt)

'Struggle' for golf courses in recent years

The president of the executive of the Annapolis Royal Golf Club, Dale Hoyt, said the last few years have been a "struggle" for many golf courses in Nova Scotia.

He said many would consider themselves lucky "if they can break even or make $5,000" at the end of the year.

The cost to maintain golf courses is high, Hoyt said, especially during a dry season like the one Nova Scotians experienced last summer. 

He said many people have sent letters of support for the club, which has been a "mainstay" in the community since 1924. 

"Their hearts bleed for this place right now," Hoyt said. 

Overall, industry is healthy

Ed Hanczaryk, a PGA golf coach based in Nova Scotia, said the market for new golf courses in the province is saturated.

"I wouldn't add any more," he said, adding, "we're going to lose a few courses" in the next few years.

The Annapolis Royal Golf Club has been a 'mainstay' of the community since 1924, says Dale Hoyt. (Dale Hoyt)

Overall, Hanczaryk said he believes the golf industry in Nova Scotia is healthy, especially when it comes to low-end and high-end courses.

Hanczaryk said players like the smaller courses, like Airlane Golf Club near the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, because they are relatively affordable and there are no tee times required.

Nova Scotia has also become a destination for luxury golfers who frequent clubs like Cabot Cliffs in Inverness, he said.

"Larry David comes up, for goodness sake, to play."

The clubhouse is home to approximately 100 members. (Dale Hoyt)

With files from the CBC's Information Morning

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