Denny McArthur started his golf career in the mid-1950s lugging the bags of rich businessmen in West Vancouver. Almost 60 years later he still has an enthusiastic love for the game.
“You either had a paper route or you carried the luggage up the docks when the ferries would come into Horseshoe Bay or you caddied,” McArthur said of his first ever job as a 12-year-old caddy at Gleneagles Golf Club.
Earning money might have been what lured McArthur to the golf business, but it was the sport that has kept him here all these years.
By the time he was in high school, McArthur was working the pro shop at Gleneagles. And while he played sports like football and baseball, it was golf that consumed most of his time.
“I think what I liked about golf is that you didn’t have to rely on anybody else, I enjoyed that part of it,” said McArthur, who took advantage of the caddy afternoons in those early days at Gleneagles where members would allow the young bag-slingers to use their clubs and play.
Before graduating from high school, McArthur had made up his mind on his career path. He didn’t have to look far.
“I had decided by high school that this is what I was going to do, I wasn’t going to do anything else,” said McArthur, who became a Canadian Professional Golf Association member while still in school. “I figured there’s no better way to make a living. You get to deal with people who come to the course with a smile on their face, it’s just a great atmosphere.”
By the early-1970s McArthur was looking to take his career to the next level. To do that, he had to become a head professional. He applied for the head pro position at the Castlegar Golf Club in the winter of 1973. When he was offered the job, he hadn’t even seen the layout of the course because when he came for his interview, the road up to the facility was impassable because of snow.
His first season in the Kootenays was 1974. At the time he had no intention of staying.
“My wife [Diony] and I probably thought we would come up here for three or four years, then we would be back in Vancouver,” McArthur explained. “My parents lived in Vancouver and every time we would go down there, it would take an hour to get over the Lions Gate Bridge or an hour over another bridge… the traffic just drove us crazy. We decided that this way of life up here is pretty good.”
In his 36 years as the main man in Castlegar, McArthur helped turn the golf course into one of the most well respected layouts in the province. It’s reputation as a great course has enabled Castlegar to host three BC Amateurs and a number of other important tournaments over the years.
Throughout his 36-year tenure at Castlegar, McArthur also taught thousands of people to love the game through his knowledgable and positive approach. It’s the interaction with juniors and those new to the game that really makes McArthur passionate.
Once he reached 65, McArthur’s contract at Castlegar expired and he reluctantly left his post.
“I never really felt that I was ready to retire,” he said.
So he didn’t. In the last few years he has been teaching in Christina Lake, Salmo and with Selkirk College.
In the off-season he was asked to make Granite Pointe part of his teaching circuit. With the flame still burning bright, he decided to sign onto an even more permanent role and will be running the pro shop too.
It couldn’t come at a better time for Granite Pointe. The local club has struggled in the last few seasons and with the arrival of McArthur, the hope is to bring a new shot of energy.
“To me this is another little challenge,” he said. “If I can help in any small way then I’m excited about doing that.”
McArthur said the problem with Granite Pointe and so many other courses in the East and West Kootenay is that market has become too crowded.
“They’ve built far too many golf courses for the number of people playing,” he said. “There are probably just as many people quitting as there are starting, there is not a big influx of golfers right now.”
To help combat the number predicament, McArthur hopes to bring golf to those who have been reluctant to pick up a club. He understands the sport can be intimidating to juniors and beginners. McArthur wants to not only give lessons, but make changes to the course that will make it more approachable.
One of the initiatives McArthur is going to introduce is beginner tees that bring the greens closer to the player. He wants the new forward tees to make the course feel almost like a par-three layout.
“I really want to approach the season so people want to come up here and feel less stressed,” he said.
“We’re going to make the pro shop staff the friendliest in the Kootenays. My main goal is to make everyone feel welcome. If you do that then people will want to be here.”
Enthusiasm for the game of golf is something McArthur certainly doesn’t lack.
“I’m excited to be here, I wasn’t ready to quit,” he said. “My wife and I still love golfing, we just love playing.”
For more information about golf lessons or to make a tee time, call Granite Pointe at 250-352-5913 or head to granitepointe.ca.