SPORTS FLASHBACK 1991: Community golf course is Gauthier family’s legacy


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The quarter section of farmland that has been in the family for 70 years has been transformed into a first class 18-hole community golf course, fulfilling a family dream for Roland Gauthier and his eight siblings.

Spring arrived at La Verendrye Golf Course when the Gauthiers brushed off the blanket of sand which had protected the front nine for the winter. Those greens, with the grass looking thick and lush, were coaxed back into life by a computerized irrigation system, providing the first clue that this 18-hole layout is much more than a revamped pasture.

The open space that surrounds the 4,000 square-foot clubhouse is a deceptive window to the course. A winding, treed path takes you to the second hole, where beaver dams, rolling hills and thick brush soon become part of the scenic La Verendrye Golf Course.

The entire Gauthier family tees off simultaneously to officially open the La Verendrye Golf Course at La Broquerie.

With the help of a brother who’s a steel rigger, six girded bridges were built to take golfers between the holes that play among the meandering Seine River. The soil is sandy, there is an island tee-off and several shots are played over the river.

The recently seeded back nine won’t be ready to play until the spring of 1992. There, the 17th is La Verendrye’s signature hole. The Gauthiers claim it is the longest par 6 in the world, at 760 yards.

The character of the course is as unique as the family that built it. The fairway along the fourth hole is one of a few places on the course where there had been an original clearing beside the Seine River. Since 1965, this particular corner had been the Gauthier family playground.

“We all had dairy cattle and we couldn’t go to the lake,” Roland reminisces. “So this was our place, all our kids learned to swim in the river.”

Gauthier points to a crumpled, old bicycle that rests at the foot of the embankment as a reminder of those earlier times.

“The kids would ride that thing straight off the edge of the bank into the river,” said Roland. “They were pretty happy to find it’s still down there.”

The Gauthier family often spent most of their summers at eight cabins built at this spot on the river. July 1st outings were the largest, with visiting relatives numbering up to 150.

“Our children asked us how they could help with the golf course and we suggested each of them could buy a chair for the clubhouse.”

All 72 upholstered chairs are fitted with an engraved plate naming the donor. It’s one of the many classy touches for this small town community golf course. The marble tee markers each priced at $600, is another.

At the official opening of the course this month, RM of La Broquerie Reeve John Giesbrecht said the course was guaranteed to be a success, because everyone knows that what the Gauthiers do; they do well.

La Verendrye club professional Jacques Lavack is hoping the course will see 15,000 rounds played this summer. A realistic target, considering Steinbach’s Fly-In hosts 35,000 rounds each year.

But speaking for the family, Roland Gauthier insists this project is not about profit. This project started when nine brothers and sisters each put $20,000 in the start-up fund.

“We didn’t do it to make lots of money; our idea was we wanted something to leave to our children and to the community as a legacy.”

Only a few weeks ago, this tight-knit family, aged 53 to 65, christened the clubhouse with the 88th birthday of their mother. A wedding picture of Elas and Irma Gauthier is proudly displayed as a focal point in the restaurant dining room.

Roland points out the family has traced its history back to the explorer the course is named for. More than just the roots of the La Verendrye Golf Course grass are important to the Gauthier family.

With files from Lorna Dueck

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