Five Questions With: Fairview Mountain GM Brian McDonald

 Brian McDonald began working at Fairview Mountain Golf Club in 1994 and is celebrating 30 years at the same facility this year...

Under his direction, the club has been recognized no less than 3 times by the PGA of BC as the province’s Facility of the Year.

Brian himself has also received a few accolades from his peers both provincially and nationally. He was named the Head Professional of the Year by the PGA of Canada in 2004 and just this past year was voted as the Executive Professional of the Year nationally. 

Recently, British Columbia Golf spoke with Fairview Mountain's General Manager & Director of Golf Operations.

Q: What does it mean to you that Fairview Mountain has been recognized as the Facility of the Year by the PGA of BC on three different occasions?

A: It means a lot, I mean ultimately with our location being in such a small community, 5,000 people... and kind of the challenges of being in a community like you've got 3 golf courses; Osoyoos, Nk Mip and ourselves, so you've got 10,000 people in the area, so you rely a lot on outside play for success and fiscal success and so for us to be recognized I think it stands out from the fact that we're always trying to be better. It's not always easy and every season you're not at your best but we've taken a lot of pride in trying to enhance our facilities year after year and so to get recognized like that amongst a lot of amazing clubs and you know, some of the amazing private clubs, is an honour for us. 

Q: What do you think makes Fairview Mountain so special?

A: I think what makes Fairview so special is, there's a few things, and maybe this is just me speaking...the fairways are fairly wide so it's forgiving - but the greens are consistently pretty quick and that's the biggest challenge, you know, everyone meets on the greens and that's where the golf sort of bites back a little. But I think what makes it so special, we've got a relatively small membership, 285, that are very passionate about the club and they know we rely on outside green fees so they share that opportunity but I think for us just the golf course, the lay of the land surround - we're cut through vineyards, there's no houses, it's pure golf, so for us, I think that's kind of what really sets us apart.

Q: You were named the PGA of Canada, Dick Munn Executive Golf Professional of the Year for 2023, following your PGA of BC Executive Professional of the Year recognition. What does it mean to you to receive that national attention and how important is it to your golf facility?

A: I think, sort of circling back on my comment I made about being in a small community, a lot of times those clubs don't get that recognition and I've been fortunate enough to be recognized by my peers as a provincial award-winner and I was fortunate many years ago to be the national head professional of the year and then the executive professional of the year this past year, I think it brings attention to Fairview, which is nice, as someone who hasn't moved around, I'm starting my 30th year at the club so I've dedicated my career to Fairview Mountain. It means a lot that way because lots of times you get recognized if you're at the bigger clubs in Toronto or some of the bigger clubs in Vancouver, so it means a lot to me. 

Q: The resurgence and popularity of golf and being able to be out in wide open spaces was very much a bonus for the game due to Covid. Golf facilities seem to have continued to see elevated participation numbers since then, have you seen that continue at Fairview Mountain? 

A: We have, and we've seen with the growth that... I mean everybody in golf saw growth from Covid and I think now it's a matter of ensuring you're meeting the needs of these new players. Because the largest growth area we've seen at our facility has been with our intermediate under-39 category - we've seen really big growth in that and in our under-39 women category as well. So these are two markets we're happy to be seeing growth in, and the game changes, they look at it differently and what they're looking for so you've got to always be adapting. I think we've done a really good job of adapting to what the consumer and the golfer want, we're a very what I would say 'relaxed' facility, we certainly don't take ourselves very seriously but we take our customer service seriously and we feel that has shown through in this last little bit and we expect to see continued growth within our area, even despite a very small population.

Q: You started at Fairview Mountain in 1994 and have been through a lot during that time including the adversity of a nearby wildfire damaging the clubhouse, your inventory and of course the mudslide just a few years back that affected at least 5 holes on the course. You've come through that very well, that said, what vision do you have or what do you see going forward over the next few years for Fairview Mountain?

A: Obviously you've touched on a lot of the things we've been through and right now we're actually seeing the positives of it. From the fact that last year we replaced...we had a very large year last year, we replaced our entire irrigation system, we renovated the upstairs and downstairs of our clubhouse - not a full reno, but a makeover and... it's not even May and our golf course has never been in this type of shape... in the last 10 years, just from this new system. So for us, we envision returning to the highest level of golf, because ultimately that's what we're known for, we're not a housing community and we're not a private club so we just want to provide the best golfing product. So that's kind of the vision we're at, we're always striving to elevate that, but we feel right now playability, course conditions and golf is what we're really sort of focussing on and enhancing as we move into the next 3 to 4 years.

To find out more about Fairview Mountain GC click HERE