SEVEN HILLS — Golf pro Kevin Black was born and raised in Alberta and has spent most of his life there when not touring as a player.
But one look at Seven Hills Golf and Country Club convinced him to make the move to the North Island.
“I love this course,” said Black, who was hired earlier this year as the new manager and resident pro at the 9-hole, par-70 course, located just off Highway 30 between Port Hardy and Port McNeill. “I think there are a lot of characteristics of this course that people may not realize put it on a par with a lot of big-name courses.”
Black, 30, was taken by surprise when he saw Vancouver Island’s northernmost course, which is owned by its members and managed by a board of directors.
“I didn’t know there was anything up here on the North Island,” he said. “I’ve played in tournaments in Victoria, and have friends who play in Nanaimo.
“I’ve been fortunate to have played all over North America and Europe. I’ve played some of the best courses in the world and, probably, some of the worst. I don’t know if people up here know just what they’ve got. And the views are incredible.”
Black has already put his stamp on Seven Hills, painting the pro shop and adding several new product lines. He’s also introduced Harley, his beagle, who occupies a spot of honour behind the counter and who has already developed her own following of regular friends who bring her treats when they stop by.
“He showed up about 10 days early, voluntarily, so he could paint the pro shop and get it all set up,” Seven Hills board member Al Petrie said. “Any time there’s something to be done, he’s right there, pitching in.
“We’re really excited about him, and about the future.”
Black said his focus will be on helping the course reach its full potential, with the aid of volunteers who supplement his one-and-a-half person maintenance crew. Petrie said Black has made a routine of playing evening rounds with Harley during slow times, giving him a first-hand look at the various features and problem areas on the course.
“The course has a good mix of hard and easy, short and long,” said Black. “We’re going to start with some easy stuff to make the course look better and play more easily. Players here may have accepted it as, ‘This is what we have,’ but for me there’s a lot more possible.”
Black comes to the North Island after several years as assistant pro at Edmonton’s Millwoods Golf Course, part of it recently re-retired Seven Hills manager Kerry Ketter. Born in Lethbridge, he moved to Edmonton as a youth and soon became immersed in the game, playing junior golf and working at Millwoods starting at age 14.
Also a standout hockey player, Black attended Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton on a hockey scholarship while studying golf course management.
By the time he wrapped up studies, he turned full-time from hockey to golf — “I just quit growing,” he said of hanging up the skates — and earned his Canadian Professional Golfers card.
He has alternated work as assistant club pro at Millwoods in summers with tournament play in warmer climes each winter.
“I still do (tour) when I can, but it’s not full-time,” he said.
Black is still adjusting to full-time residency on North Vancouver Island. But he is ready to stay the course on behalf of his vision for the club.
“The first couple of days, I had a ‘What did I do?’ moment,” Black said. “But there’s a lot of potential here. I’m definitely glad to be here.”
Seven Hills Golf and Country Club is a full-service course, open seven days a week. The Seven Hills Restaurant, a licensed facility with seating for 125, is often used for meetings and conventions. The restaurant offers a Sunday brunch each week from noon-3 p.m., and will be open seven days a week beginning in May.
For information or to set up a tee time, call 250-949-9818.