Restoring an Iconic Canadian Club

In 2022, St. Charles Country Club embarked on a historic restoration of its golf course and practice facilities. These projects, headed by renown architects Jim Urbina and Riley Johns, will shape the future of the club for decades to come. The vision was simple: to be clearly the best club in Manitoba, be among the best in Western Canada, and to be recognized nationally as one of the country’s top golf clubs.

Our golf course consists of 27 holes, with our original two nines being designed by two of the most celebrated architects in the history of the game—Donald Ross and Alister MacKenzie. St. Charles has invested $5 million in the restoration of its Ross and MacKenzie nines. A full renovation of the final nine, created by Norman Woods and reworked by Johns, as well as the development of a spectacular short game and putting area situated on the scenic Assiniboine River, will complete the revitalization of our golf facilities.

To accompany the most significant investment in a golf course in Manitoba history, we are also embarking on a bold plan over the next eight to 12 years to upgrade several amenities to create a world class experience right here in Winnipeg.

We invite you to scroll through the timeline below to learn more about what has been accomplished to date, and what is in store for the future.

Phase One – Restoring the Golden Age at St. Charles.

The MacKenzie Restoration: Completed, July 2023.

World famous golf course architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie visited St. Charles in 1928 and designed nine spectacular holes. Dr. MacKenzie is famous for his works at Cypress Point Club, Augusta National, Pasatiempo, Royal Melbourne, Lahinch, and many others.

The membership at St. Charles felt strongly the club should restore the experience Dr. MacKenzie had created, which led to the hiring of Jim Urbina, a MacKenzie restoration expert. Jim’s genius and creativity has showcased Dr. MacKenzie’s true intent for the nine, including the spectacular use of the land he was given, as well as majestic bunkers and astounding green sites.

Project keys

Work on the project started in 2022, with all bunkers restored to MacKenzie’s style and drained properly to improve consistency. All greens were restored back to their original size while keeping all contours from the original 1928 design. The course’s greens, fairways, and tees were seeded with bent grass, providing a more playable, environmentally friendly, and resilient turf. State of the art irrigation system was installed allowing the club to better manage water and improve course conditioning. MacKenzie’s famous hole #3 was recreated, bringing back some fun to the course with this astounding short par 4.

The video below showcases course architect Jim Urbina discussing MacKenzie's work at St. Charles and the renovation work completed.

The Mackenzie Nine reopened for play on July 1, 2023. As the course reaches full maturity, it will play fast, firm, and challenging, while allowing all levels of players opportunity to score and enjoy the game.

The Ross Nine Restoration: July 2, 2023 – August 2024 (expected reopening).

Urbina continued his amazing work by restoring the nines holes designed for St. Charles by Donald Ross in 1919. Having grown up in the shadow of the world famous Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Ross is famed for designs such as Seminole, Oak Hill, Pinehurst #2, and many, more. As with the MacKenzie Nine, it was very important for the club to restore what Donald Ross initially designed at St. Charles.

As part of the project, all bunkers were restored to Ross’ style and drained properly to improve consistency. The greens were restored back to their original size while keeping the contours from the original design. Greens, fairways, and tees were seeded with bent grass, to provide the same playable, environmentally friendly, and resilient turf as the MacKenzie Nine. State of the art irrigation system was installed allowing the club to better manage water and improve conditioning. The re-routing of three holes—#5 through #7—will bring back the original routing created by Ross, and will be a significant improvement.

A vast majority of the restorations of the Ross Nine was completed in 2023. The spring and summer of 2024 will be time for the nine to grow in, with a projected opening later that summer.

Phase Two: Completing the golf experience.

Short Game Area

In June, 2024, St. Charles will relocate its short game area to a majestic site on the property, adjacent to the Assiniboine River, creating a new short game area inspired by Alister MacKenzie’s famous Sitwell Green (LEARN MORE). This exciting practice experience will be one of a kind in Canada, featuring a 34,000 square foot bunker play, chipping, and putting green. This green will serve for member practice and as a putting course similar to those found at St. Andrews, Bandon Dunes, and Pinehurst. A second green, approximately 900 square feet in size, will serve for wedge play, chipping, and bunker play. St. Charles’ new short game area will provide an area for members to practice thousands of different shots from 60 yards and closer and provide entertainment though a fun and challenging putting course.

West Nine Renovation

The Woods Nine was originally designed by Norman Woods, noted for his work with Canadian legend Stanley Thompson, and has been a challenge to the club for many years. While having 27 holes is a significant member benefit, the conditioning and playability of the Woods Nine often fell short of expectation and its design paled in comparison to the MacKenzie and Ross Nines. In October of 2024, Canadian golf course architects Riley Johns, and his partner Keith Rhebb, will embark on the most significant renovation in St. Charles history, with the outcome providing members and their guests with three fantastic, and unique nines for play. Johns will build a new nine for St. Charles, paying homage to Thompson’s legacy in Canada. The $6.5 million project will include earth moving and shaping to resolve all drainage issues and create land movement making the golf course fun and interesting to play. The installation of a state-of-the-art irrigation system and improving the drainage throughout the property are keys to success. Bent grass will be used on fairways, tees, and greens as found on the MacKenzie and Ross Nines. Significant alterations to the terrain will occur creating slopes and elevation changes to a very flat property. This new 3,350-yard golf course will be par 35.

In the video below, course architect Riley Johns shares his career background, influences, and provides his plan for the West Nine renovation.

The opening of this reworked nine in 2026 will be one of the highlights of an ambitious four-year plan to re-establish St. Charles as one of the most significant golf courses in Canada. The reward is 27-holes of a brand-new golf experience that harkens back to the best classic golf Canada has witnessed, with three distinct nines for play and a unique short game area.

There is more.

Upcoming projects:

2025 – Garden and chalet renovation: The iconic Garden at St. Charles, adjacent to the clubhouse, is currently being re-designed to update what is already an unbelievable member experience. Plans are underway and will soon be unveiled providing an uplifted garden environment and much improved on course food and beverage services.

2027 – Renovation of the Men’s and Women’s lockers rooms.

2029 – Kitchen renovations

2032 – Clubhouse exterior

2034 – Grounds Building

The Result

Already one of Canada’s most historic private golf clubs, with two nines designed by an unrivaled pedigree of great architects, once the renovation is complete, St. Charles will see its course elevated further. A great club with a golf course that’s without peer in the Winnipeg market—that’s St. Charles.