Jack (Johann) Reimer Biography
The material for this article comes from a series of emails with Jack Reimer’s eldest son Wilf.
Well I’ve gone through my Dad’s plans and material we have with my brother Gary and it was an interesting exercise.
First off we were able to determine my Dad was born Johann Reimer on December 10th, 1925 in the Mennonite Colony of Sagradovka in the village of Tiege (38) to the west of Zagradovka, near the Ingulets River in the Ukraine. He passed away on December 10th, 2003 in Abbotsford, BC.
He had one older brother Bernhard and seven sisters. The family farm was in the village of Tiege# *. They grew watermelons, vegetables, fruit trees (orchard) hay, and livestock. Dad was an engineering student. He entered a technical college in Berlin, Germany at age 16. When war broke out he returned to the family farm. As the German army approached his village, he enlisted in the German army. The Germans assigned him to the Russian Front attached to the Panzer Division. He was wounded on the battlefield and left for dead. Fortunately a Russian solder found him still alive and admitted him to the nearest Russian Military Hospital. A metal plate was inserted over his shrapnel wound and he recovered over several months. He escaped from the hospital and returned to his family farm. Jack spoke fluent Russian and some Ukraine as well as German n so he could travel as a local without any suspicion.
Like many veterans who fought in the war, he suppressed his wartime experiences. He would never really talk about this part of his life because of the trauma of War.
The head wound caused some paralysis to his left side. He had a noticeable limp. For this reason he could never really play golf. The strokes he suffered later in life were probably due to the effects of the metal plate. The shrapnel was never really removed completely.
You are right Jack had to choose where he would go after the war and Canada was preferred because of the respect he had for Canadian servicemen and the freedom and promise our Country represented to immigrants. You are correct that the Mennonite community represented the agrarian ideals that he had been raised in. There was little chance of persecution and freedom of religion was supported. Mennonites in Ukraine lost their farms to the Soviet Union and basically they were Collective Farms for the state. A Mennonite community in Paraguay in South America (the other choice) was neither as stable nor prosperous and Canada represented the mirror image of what he left in Ukraine. Of course Canadian Mennonite Farmers supported refugees from Germany to help run their farming enterprises and Jack and his brother Bernhard were brought over to work on the farm sponsored by a farmer in Chilliwack . They had to work for 2 years on the farm before they could freely work on their own. Jack had distant relatives here in Canada, and the Mennonite Church in Chilliwack allowed support in German/ English lessons and a social network.
Jack met my mother Mary (nee Warkentin) there in 1949. They married in 1951. Mother had come from Russia with her parents in the late nineteen twenties when she was just a baby. They settled first in Alberta where she was raised amongst seven siblings; then came to BC (Chilliwack) when the family farm was lost in Alberta (as many were at the time).
Jack never published any articles in any trade magazines, although ultimately he knew Dr. Roy Goss (the turf researcher in Puyallup Wa.) personally. He was innovative in several ways. Firstly he experimented with stolonizing Bentgrass seed mixtures for Golf greens, thereby speeding up the root establishment times. This could save up to a month in grow-in time. It was a process for pre germinating seed ahead of planting. He also was one of the first architects I know of that used aerial photography (Photogrammetry) to begin planning of Golf Courses. He had gone specifically to the Seattle Worlds Fair in 1962 to see the latest technology and then to ultimately use this planning tool on virtually every Course he built.
Jack also was an articulate draughtsman. He took a technical drafting course for 3 years by distance education. He never got any marks lower than a B+ and most of his drawings were A’s or A+’s. It is a main reason he could render contour elevation grading plans, legible to engineering survey technicians and engineering officials in City or Municipal authorities so well. His colored Golf Course plans were works of Art.
The design process for a Golf Course is similar to any large-scale urban planning process. Starting with a preliminary assessment on the ground of topography and the shape of the acreage. Routing of holes was originally done using articulated cardboard cutouts (to scale) that could be maneuvered on the paper plan of the site. After a while as Jack gained experience he didn’t need them and could visualize possible holes according to utilizing natural lay of the land and topographic features for design interest. This gift of visualization can be summed up as an ability to artistically render a landscape to a natural pleasing layout. My dad could ‘see’ greens, bunkers, and tees in photographs of sand dunes and ocean seascapes noting variances in light and depth. He kept many photos with doodles on them for future reference. This is why every green he designed could be different than the last and truly were unique unto itself. Most of his associates in the industry described him as an ‘artist’ for this reason.
Renovation usually is because of problems with drainage, and physical restraints of play that need to be corrected. On many courses during Jacks work history, greens and tees made with inappropriate soils needed to be upgraded to a sand/organic matter base. Indeed even pure sand base greens were built. USGA specifications had been changed and green performance was of utmost importance so many courses changed and were upgraded. Many times Golf Course builders would make mistakes on the approaches to Greens and drainage swaling and use of sand as a base could improve playability and save money with less maintenance costs. Many times constructed courses didn’t meet USGA Spec or even the guidelines set out by the National Golf Foundation and so compliance was a motivation to correct deficiencies by renovation.
As far as a favorite hole goes I think he particularly liked the Cedars at Dungeness #3 Ole Crabby featuring the huge Crab shaped sand bunker so famous in the area. I think he always said that Oakbrook G and CC was one of his best. He was also proud of Meadow Springs in Richland Wa. And Osooyos G &CC was also a favorite . It’s really hard to say because always felt his newest build was the best. I know that he was very proud of the work he did at Marine Drive G &CC. He Loved being a Resident Architect and your course was his ‘Home Course’ for sure.
His absolute favorite was Runnymede which he designed and planned for a Surrey location as his legacy course but unfortunately was never built. Nicholas Rawcliffe of Surrey was the Developer and point person there . Mr. Rawcliffe worked for the City of Surrey later in their Real Estate Division.
Instead Jack was working at Fraser Glen Golf Course in Abbotsford and turned this par 3 course into a longer Executive 18.
I suppose something should be said of Jack’s design philosophy as well. Jack believed that courses should be ‘strategic’ in design. He believed that giving golfers options and choices for players so that player interest through risk and reward was greatest. He built courses for the average golfer and ‘fair’ layouts that used every club in the bag so that it was a positive experience for the Player. His courses were classic style wide open fairways , large greens, 3 or 4 Tee choices, and only several strategic placed sand traps or bunkers per hole. Fairways were rolling but no unnatural mound placements were used. Greens often would have two levels to increase challenge and interest. As a result his layouts have proven themselves over time and thousands of players have ‘recreated ‘ on his courses and have enjoyed playing them year after year. Most Courses are still there and successful still after many years.
Yes I worked for the City of Surrey Parks dept. for 39 years. I was the Turfgrass Facilities Foreman and Tradesperson. I looked after all the Ball diamonds, soccer, football ,rugby fields in the City all of those years. I helped my dad build Wayside ( now Fraser Glen) par 3 in 1971 , worked a summer on Dungeness G &CC in 1969 and I started working for the City of Surrey in 1972.
I am a year and a half older than my brother Gary. Our youngest brother Norman passed away in 1999.
JOHN (JACK) REIMER ARCHITECTURAL CAREER
1948 – 1950 Arrived in Vancouver from Germany
Hop Yards planting, grading bulldozer operator
1950 – 1954 Worked in Lower Mainland as a landscaper. Eddies Nursery
1952-54 Oil pipeline remedial work foreman for Norman Woods
1954 Began working for Norman Woods Golf Architecture Company Foreman
1956 -57 British Empire Games construction foreman for Norman Woods
Require list of projects designed renovated by Norman Woods because Reimer likely produced the drawings, supervised the renovation as the foreman for many of the Norman Woods projects in the NW.
1958 Grandview Golf Course foreman
1961 Mylora Sidway Freeway to tunnel opened in 1959 Course probably opened in 1960 ‘61
1962 -63 Rock Island Wenatchee
1962 63 Mission Foreman
1962 Hat Island GC (9 holes)
1963 Capital City Olympia
1964 Othello GC (9 holes) Design/Builder
1966 Tsawwassen GC designer with Norman Woods
1966 –’67 Twin Lakes
1967 Guildford GC(18 holes) , Lake Spanaway GC (18 holes), Oakbrook GC 18 holes), Twin Lakes GC (second nine)
1968 Meadow Springs GC ,Tam O’Shanter
1968 ? Belmor Park Tacoma
1969/1970 Dungeness G&CC Sand Point G&CC
1970 Fairwood G&CC (second nine)
1971 Gold Mountain (Cascade) 18 holes
1971 Wayside Par 3 Abbotsford
1972 Marine Drive GC Reno, University (18 holes), Park Meadows GC (18 holes)
1973 Lake Wilderness GC (second nine)
1974 Cedars at Dungeness GC
1976 (1984) Mylora Sidway
1978 Penninsula GC (second nine)
1978 Madrona Links Gig Harbor
1979 Nico-Wynd (consultant)
1979 St. Andrews by the Lake Kaledon BC
1980 Osoyoos G&CC (second nine)
1980 Marine Drive reno 13th and 14th
1981 Bear Creek Golf Course Redmond WA
1983 Merritt G&CC (18 holes)
1983 Quesnel G&CC (second nine)
1983 Dragon Lake Quesnel
1986 Pender Harbour
1986 Trysting Tree Corvalis
1986 Summerland 2nd nine (1980 1st nine)
1987 – 1992 Gold River
1988 Shadow Ridge
1988 Green Acres
1996 Fraser Glen original Wayside reno
Fairview Mountain (Before Les Furber)
If you have any projects to add to the list please contact the BC Golf Museum at