The Last Oak Golf extraordinaire

Chief Cadmus Delorme serves as the leader of Cowessess First Nation. He said his strengths in leadership come from teachings he learned in the game of golf. Photo By: Joseph Bernacki

COWESSESS – Whether on the golf course or governing in a head office, the words of wisdom from Chief Cadmus Delorme speak to a career in leadership defined by his favourite sport.

“Golf is like leadership, you have a chance to mentally tee off just like in life,” said Delorme.

As the leader of Cowessess First Nation, Delorme’s passion for golf has propelled the chief from provincial champion to serving the community with a winning attitude.

Delorme is serving his first term as chief and has been instrumental in bringing change to his community. From the introduction of solar panels for renewable energy, the establishment of road signs, to the revitalization of Indigenous language, Delorme is able to diversify his knowledge to meet the needs and interest of the First Nation.

“In leadership, when you hit the fairway, life is good, but not everybody hits the fairway. I take a lot of my teachings I learned in golf, from helping others around you collectively, to being honest and confident,” said Delorme.

Delorme emphasized how both require an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.

“In leadership, I build on my strengths and weaknesses just like how I do in golf. Your greatest enemy in golf and leadership is between your ears. I always make sure I’m a step ahead of myself, the game of golf is leadership within its own means,” Delorme said.

The Last Oak Golf & Country Club was established in 1967. Many players in the Qu’Appelle Valley enjoy the layout of the course including Chief Delorme. Photo By: Joseph Bernacki

Delorme, along with many others in the Qu’Appelle Valley, found their foothold in golf by playing at the Last Oak Golf & Country Club. A fond memory of his initial interest took place at this course.

“I was picking golf balls at the golf course when I was about 10 or 11 and I would sell them. I would make enough for fries and gravy, it was just something to do in the afternoon on Cowessess,” said Delorme.

Councillor Lionel Sparvier and Chief Delorme shared the history of Last Oak.

In 1967, an initiative between four First Nations – Ochapowace, Cowessess, Sakimay, and Kahkewistahaw – established Last Oak on Cowessess. Years later, the golf course was left as a sole responsibility for Cowessess.

In terms of the First Nation community, “It’s one of the few in Saskatchewan, and the oldest established one, it speaks for itself,” Sparvier said.

Chief Delorme still spends a great deal of time on the course that was his second home and hopes to restore the course from 10 holes to 18 holes following flood damage in 2011 and 2013.

In terms of future development, both Delorme and Sparvier say the golf course has lots of potential.

“We need to make it a year-round tourist attraction, both in the summer and winter, from cross-country skiing, snowshoeing to ecotourism,” Sparvier said.

Delorme’s parents got his first set of golf clubs from a garage sale.

Golfing idols like Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods inspired Delorme to raise his game to an elite level, becoming the mid-amateur provincial champion and representing Saskatchewan at nationals 11 times.

The pinnacle of Delorme’s golf achievements took place at the annual Lobstick Tournament in Waskesiu.

“It’s a very mental, emotional golf tournament. It’s five days, each day with two rounds, it’s just overwhelming. There’s 260 golfers and one champion at the end,” said Delorme.

Although the years have passed, Delorme will never forget the emotional drive of winning the event in 2012.

By 2013, Delorme acknowledged Saskatchewan had its limitations in golf and the idea of going south would have required pursuing a pro card to reach the PGA Tour.

“My wife and I made the decision collectively, I hit the peak in this province in what I could do. It was a lower risk to go to university and get educated, rather than to go down south,” Delorme explained.

For future golf inspiration, Delorme is a role model for Cowessess.

Delorme’s nephew, Lucas Bellegarde, has played golf for two years and enjoys different tournaments available at Last Oak.

“It’s fun, my dad takes me out to golf, he teaches me how to play and we really enjoy it, I get to play a lot with my uncles,” said Bellegarde, a Grade 4 Student at Cowessess Community Education Centre.

Delorme said golf can bring social impacts to his community.

“It’s a social sport, it’s so nice to see families golfing together, it represents our First Nation, knowing that Cowessess has a golf course and the resources to keep making the course an enjoyable experience for all,” said Delorme.

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