A Pioneer Spirit
Inspired by a true pioneer spirit and love of the land, Dorchester Ranch has evolved into a magical place that cannot be simply defined by the golf course. You and your family will find endless activities to fill your days, and by what might seem by accident, relationships that matter will grow closer, new friendships will blossom, all under warm Alberta skies.
Yes, at first glance, maybe the good fortune found here is happenstance, but then again, maybe it is by design.
The story begins with a gesture of kindness, a son standing in for a father who is recovering from a broken back sustained during a chuckwagon wreck.
Gord Dorchester and his wife Lil had been living in Fort Saskatchewan, while Gord worked as a prison guard, when a phone call told him of his father’s wreck. Gord was no stranger to chuckwagons; from 1963 − 1965 he had raced pony chuckwagons with Cliff Claggett. The two had travelled across Canada from race to race. After a brief intermission at home Gord decided he would continue on without Cliff, and jumped into a motor home and got back on the racing circuit.
Many years later, Gord put down the phone and headed straight home to help his father with the ranch.
Days turned to months, months to years, and Gord had built up a successful carpenter/ rock stone mason company in Pigeon Lake. He realized that his family’s land was unlike any other place, and it was home. Smiling at fate, he decided to build his own house on the property.
Great land often speaks to people and whispers its potential to those who take the time to listen. Such was the case when Gord noticed that the land had a few natural fairways. Perfect in length and width, these fairways whispered that they needed only gentle coaxing to become not a good course, but a great one.
Keeping the land’s secret in mind, Gord purchased a bulldozer under the guise of creating more land for the farm.
The year was 1984 when he began cutting out large strips of land on his property and falling trees. The best way, back then, to figure out how the holes should be laid out, was by climbing trees and visualizing where to cut next.
The communities’ curiosity grew but the golf course project idea remained a secret.
Serendipity smiled as the land whispered when Vic Almond, Gord’s brother in law, came to visit the area. Vic’s business was landscaping and at the time, his crew was just finishing a job and would be idle. Vic proposed that he and his men help create the course.
By August 1986, the newly shaped course was ready for seeding and a long winter’s nap.
Spring of 1987 brought the grand opening of the first 9 holes. The community was very excited to try the new course. That excitement was fuelled by green fees being a whopping $5.00.
Through the late eighties, many people enjoyed seeing the course mature, and many more enjoyed the challenging 9 holes. Unfortunately the rates for borrowing money during this time skyrocketed, making for tough times. Although there was a growing demand for golf in the area, the workload and expense were enormous, so a great deal of the work fell on the family.
Now, more than 20 years later, the family can joke about the long labour intensive days and how all the relatives have been utilized in various capacities to make it a go. Jody, their son, reflected on what it was like putting in the irrigation lines. His job was to follow behind the ditch-witch and make sure there were no large rocks on the bottom of the trench.
After a time of crawling in the mud, Jody said:
“Dad, this is the worst job, this is ditch digging. I am ditch digging! You have the hired guys here, can’t you get one of them to do this?”
“No we don’t pay them enough to do that.” Gord says. Luckily Jody had lots of help from his older brother Robin.
All the family’s hard work and perseverance paid off, and the golf course’s popularity grew and it became apparent another nine holes were needed.
In 2005 the family purchased the quarter section south of them and went to work getting the new nine opened. The original nine have been changed dramatically, as well, to fit in with the new design.
The course is a sheer delight to play, as the likes of Chi Chi Rodriguez can attest. In fact Chi Chi returned to play this stunning course three times between 2006 and 2008.
It is fair to say there were a lot of sweat and tears amongst them all over the years. Currently their son Kyle works full time ensuring the golf course is kept in excellent playing condition, while Lil operates the club house.
The highlight of the golfing year for the Dorchesters is the annual four man “Fall Scramble” held the second Saturday in September. This tournament is open to everyone except golf pros and assistants. The winner of this tournament takes home between $15,000 and $17,000.
A new chapter is again happening in the Dorchester’s lives. They have partnered up with Mountain Shores Land Ventures Ltd. to finish their development plans.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to develop a resort with the golf course for everyone to enjoy. We plan to run the golf course ourselves for a couple of years and build a new home in the development. This area is our home now and will be in the future!” states Gord.
Gord and Lil welcome you to take the time to come out to Dorchester Ranch Golf Course and share in their many stories and look at all the memorabilia on the walls signed by numerous professional sports figures.
The Dorchester name in the Westerose, Alberta area is synonymous with chuckwagons; brothers Gord, Gary, Dennis, Dallas and father Tom are all well know in this field of racing.
To their credit the Dorchester clan have 5 Calgary Stampede victories with Gary in 1968, Tom in 1970 and 71, and Dallas in 1983 and 1991.
The racing spirit continues as Troy Dorchester and Rick Fraser are still active on the circuit. Besides being known as experts in chuckwagon racing and entertaining fans for years, the Dorchester name is also well known in curling and golfing circles.
Come and find out for yourselves why this a special place to be and see why they call this community HOME! They would love to have you.