Plymouth’s Hollydale Golf Course Makes the Most (Syrup) Out of Winter

An unusually long winter means surprisingly sweet times for the Deziel family.
Members of the Deziel family tap a tree.

Punxsutawney Phil be darned—this winter lasted a whole lot longer than any person or creature could have anticipated. If you spent the extra weeks of shoveling wishing it would all melt away, you’re in good company. But don’t expect to count the Deziel family, owners of the Hollydale Golf Course, among your kind. At first glance, the family is perhaps the least likely group to support an extended winter—after all, their business depends on people wanting to be outside. But they’re making the most out of the bonus cold spells by pursuing a passion that spans generations: making maple syrup. “Our family is really old-school and I love that about them,” said Jora Bart, daughter of second-generation owner Rick Deziel. In prime tapping season, the whole family helps to collect sap from the woods on the golf course, an age-old tradition passed through family members and neighbors. 2013 has been a landmark year for Hollydale—Ryan Deziel estimates they’ve made somewhere between 30 and 35 gallons of maple syrup, compared to only about three to five gallons last year, when the course’s rolling hills were ready to be golfed by St. Patrick’s Day. Ryan Deziel is the head superintendent at Hollydale and the brains and brawn behind the syrup operation. “Collecting the sap takes quite a bit of time,” he said. They cook the sap in a 25-gallon outdoor cooking pan. After two to three days of heat, only three to six gallons of syrup emerge. Ryan Deziel tends to the batch every three hours, even if that means waking up in the middle of the night. “So much labor goes into making a gallon of maple syrup,” Jora Bart said. This year, the family tapped about 45 trees. Each day, they collected anywhere from 30 to 90 gallons of sap. The whole family—second-generation owner Rick Deziel and his wife, Lynette; their son Ryan and daughters Malia, Sheena and Jora; and their grandsons, Tanner and twins Cade and Cameron—got involved, collecting the sap and enjoying the results. If you’re wondering how you can get your hands on the syrup, you better start cozying up to the Deziels soon: they don’t sell it. Instead, the family gives the golden treat away to friends and family members. “I love giving it as a gift and telling people the story of it,” Bart said.  “You can buy the store brand of maple syrup for $2.50, but it’s not the same.”