Ian Andrew of Golf Design Inc. is a golf course architect based in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. Andrew is a graduate of the landscape architecture program at Guelph University and began his golf course architecture career with fellow Canadian Doug Carrick. His design portfolio includes Ontario layouts at Ballantrae Golf & Country Club in Aurora, Copper Creek Golf Club in Klienburg, Osprey Valley (Hoot and Toot Courses) in Alton and a nine-hole addition at Nobleton Oaks in Nobleton.
My final project with Carrick Design was Muskoka Bay. The golf course was carved out of 250 acres of bush and rock with the holes strung out over eleven kilometers. The surveyor laid in centerlines for the holes by clearing a five-meter-wide opening from tee to green. The opening revealed something unexpected: a bear.
The next stage was for Doug Carrick and me to go out and flag out the trees destined for removal and the trees to be preserved. The tree cutters established paths between holes for access, and once again our new friend, the bear, was sighted on one of the paths.
After a while the bear found the lunch coolers kept by the tree cutters and enjoyed a delicious meal. In response, the crew tied their coolers in the trees, so after a while the frustrated bear approached the cutters looking for food. We now had a serious problem.
One of the site supervisors had had enough and took to carrying a shotgun to scare the bear away from the site. The skidder team and cutters worked closer together since the bear didn’t like the skidders – food or no food – but there was concern for the individuals walking the trails on the site.
The joke on the site was that it was best to walking in pairs with someone you could outrun – or, if you were the slow one, the trick was to trip the other guy first and then run away.
I carried a shotgun with me for nearly a year – particularly during the times that I was out there by myself. There was nothing more nerve-wracking than the couple of times that I could clearly smell the bear nearby. Imagine your heart beating a hundred beats a minute, while you’re unable to get reception on your mobile phone! I began wondering why I chose this line of work.
It would be a perfect ending to say I now site in front of my fireplace with my feet resting on a bearskin rug, but the truth is that someone else ended up having to kill our bear after it began venturing into town looking for easy food.