Behind the Greens: Zach Bishop
Kananaskis is truly a picturesque destination and we’re extremely proud of our two 18-hole course layouts [and we don’t shy away from owning the bragging rights]!
Although the majestic Mt. Lorette and Mt. Kidd both shine their glory down onto the course giving golfers the perfect backdrop for their Insta-worthy swing, the course itself doesn’t stay this beautiful on its own - it’s due to the daily dedication of our incredible turf-care team, led by Superintendent, Calvin McNeely.
Thanks to Calvin and his team, you will find the course in pristine condition at all times – these guys never miss even the slightest wilted flower.
On his team you’ll find Zachary Bishop, Second Assistant Superintendent, who joined the KCGC family in May.
“Even though my time at KCGC has been short, I’ve already seen the significant impact that it has on everyone that comes to visit,” says Bishop. “Alberta’s Golf Course is back and it’s truly so rewarding to be a part of the well-oiled machine that makes this place a world-class facility.”
For us, it’s important for you to get to know the expert team behind KCGC 2.0. So, we caught up with Zach in-between Greens to ask him a few questions and learn more about him, both on and off the course.
KCGC: What does a day in the life of a Second Assistant Superintendent entail?
Zach: Essentially, I help direct the grounds team and participate in the maintenance and conditioning of the golf course - to ensure it always meets its world-class standard. My day typically begins at 4:30 am and I meet the team at 5:30 am to begin preparing the course for play, while assisting Calvin to ensure that all of our daily goals are accomplished. I then spend the rest of the day planning out schedules and assessing the course for areas that require specific attention.
KCGC: What was your role in the launch of KCGC 2.0?
Zach: I joined KCGC back in May of this year, when most of the course construction was complete. I did get to see the construction process as they finished up the last five holes, which was a super unique experience for me. It was my job to learn how to manage the crew and further grow in my role – since Mt. Lorette was already complete it provided the perfect training platform. I was also very involved in the preparation and completion of the Mt. Kidd course which opened on June 1(Front 9) and August 1 (Back 9).
KCGC: What’s the difference between maintaining a course in the mountains vs a course in the city?
Zach:The number one thing would be the wildlife presence! Having everything from elk, deer, and moose, to bears, we have to ensure that golfers are respectful of these animals and that in turn, the wildlife doesn’t prevent any interference with play. There is never a dull moment at KCGC – I can guarantee you that!
KCGC: What’s your background – what lead you to working here at a course in the midst of the Rockies?
Zach:I have grown up in the golf industry my whole life with my father being a Golf Course Superintendent. After working on golf courses in Calgary over the years, I enrolled myself in the Turf Grass Management program at Olds College in 2016. Two years later, I was lucky enough to get connected to KCGC right away. The primary goal I was looking for after graduation was finding a golf course where I could learn, grow and most importantly, be mentored. Working under Calvin McNeely has been an incredible opportunity and then some. His dedication to his craft is contagious and makes the work we do here incredibly rewarding!
Behind the Greens: Kora Sauter
We're a close-knit team here at the Kananaskis Country Golf Course and although we continue to grow as we move through our comeback season, two things stay the same. We treat each other like family and we all share the same tenacious passion for the club - and more so now than ever before, since the course has reopened!
One of the familiar faces that you'll recognize around the course if you used to come regularly pre-flood is Kora Sauter, our Operations Manager. On paper, she's in charge of the Valet, Carts and Driving Range, but in reality, she's what holds the team together and make sure we're a well-oiled and working machine!
"I feel my role as manager is much more about the passion I have for people and enhancing their experiences," says Kora. "When I see the guests return with smiles on their faces that makes me so happy inside and it's the main reason I truly love my job so much!"
For us, it's important for you to know us as well as we know you! We caught up with Kora in-between the valet and the carts to ask her a few questions and learn more about her on and off the course.
How long have you been working at KCGC?
"I started working with KCGC in 2012 and remained in Kananaskis Country post flood for re-opening. I managed to stay busy during the 5 years of the course being closed and I returned in January to prepare for the inaugural season."
What did you do during the five years that the course was closed?
"When the flood came it was an incredibly emotional time for all of us - this was our second home. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to stay in Kananaskis and see the course through this tough time. However, I don't think anyone could have anticipated it being a 5-year wait. In the meantime, I worked at a variety of other spots in the area, such as the retail store at Naskisa and I managed the Kananaskis Outfitters. In 2016 I decided to finally take some time off and do a six-month hike from Mexico to Canada through the Pacific Crest Trail. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done and it was challenging to both my mind and body. I learned a lot about myself out there and living in the bush sure changes your outlook on life fast - it definitely makes you appreciate the small things."
What is your background - what lead you to work here at a course in the midst of the Rockies?
"I am originally from southern Saskatchewan. I left the prairies about 15 years ago and headed for the mountains. I found Kananaskis randomly on a drive from Canmore down the Spray Lakes Road more than a decade ago and I fell in love with the atmosphere I decided to stay! I consider myself a local with a great love for this area and its people. I am an avid hiker and explorer of all things in nature."
Can you give us a snapshot of your typical day?
Typically, no day is ever the same for me. I get up with a smile and excitement to organize the day! I usually will take some time in the cart barn to play some tunes and organize carts first thing in the morning. There is something very satisfying to me about the process. I prepare the team for the events of the day and cart staging details. As a group, we pull carts to energize for the day ahead. I respond to help during busy times for the Valet, Carts, Groups, and the Range duties. I respond to guests' needs/requests throughout the day. I could be found running cars at the valet, finding a bucket of lost balls for a guest, changing a tire, staging a group, stacking the range, cleaning clubs, washing carts or working in the office in any given moment. I enjoy doing something different all the time and multi-tasking through the day.
What do you love most about K-Country?
"I enjoy the seclusion of Kananaskis. It is peaceful; yet close enough to hop into the city for an afternoon. I love having the ability to easily hike some of my favourite trails in the area and I enjoy seeing how they change season to season. I always enjoy helping people figure out what hike they should do and advise them on the various trails and local pathways in the area."
What's your favourite hiking trail right now?
"Currently it's Mount Black Prince Trail. I love that it has a cirque, but if you take a local trail it leads you to a stunning waterfall and the eventually back down the other side."
What are you most excited for in the launch of KCGC 2.0?
"My excitement with the launch is every day seeing the bright smiles to our guests and team members. This place is so very special in unique ways, and I truly feel lucky to have the best job in Kananaskis! I just love the feeling at the course. It's always buzzing in the summertime and it's just got that special feeling to it. I believe that it's the people that make it a magical place to be! "
Best Kept Secrets...
Are you one of those people who love to learn how things work behind the scenes? Do you like to watch those shows or Youtube videos that let the audience in on one of the world’s great mysteries, or that debunk a well-known myth, or perhaps even show the trade secrets of how a famous magic trick is really done?
- What are the Colonels 11 secret herbs and spices?
- How DO they get the caramel inside of the Caramilk bar?
- What kind of research happens in area 51 in the US and what do they know about Extra Terrestrials?
- How did they build the spectacular pyramids in Egypt without the benefits of modern technology?
We all love to know something that may not be common knowledge or is considered to be a trade secret because it allows us to better understand that business, person, place, or product and in a way feel closer to it. In that light, we would like to share with you some of the best kept secrets of Kananaskis Country Golf Course and perhaps debunk a few of our own myths. Here they are in no particular order… Enjoy!
The Alberta Advantage
To all of our friends who live in this amazing province of Alberta it is time to honestly answer a question! Are you ready? If someone walked up to you and gave you $5 how would that make you feel? Would you go out and buy a Lottery ticket? Would you grab a coffee at TImmys?
What about $10? $20? What if I told you there is a place that will put $30 in your pocket every time you come out for a game of golf? What would you do? What would you buy with it? Would you go there for a visit?