2016 in Pictures – Chasing the Sun

In an effort to step up my photo game this year I am pleased to share 10 of my favourite golf images over the past year.  With a healthy layer of snow already in southern Ontario I hope this brings back good memories from your 2016 golf season and stokes the fire of anticipation for 2017!

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The Story: First, the course: Hornby Glen is in Milton, Ontario and it’s one of the most comfortable places to play golf.  A relaxed setting, open to a fault off the tee but with enough length and challenge on the greens to make scoring honest.  Playing in the height of summer with a good friend, we made an impulsive decision to play.  Teeing off with about 3 hours of daylight this was the view on the 17th green.  A great shot from a great day, we were able to get the round in.  I love rounds that take place early and late in the day, there is an air of solitude which I always enjoy.  If you look close enough you’ll see a ball on the green.  Not mine, regrettably.  Joel Cartner gets the photo credit here while I was trying to chip in for par.  Chasing the sun and seeking to get a full round in late day is one of my favourite things of the summer.

 

 

 

Bucket List Review – Part 2 – Nova Scotia

Bucket List Review – Part 2 – Nova Scotia

This is the second of 10 posts that will look back on the current status of my bucket list.  Focusing on all 10 provinces, I’ll share links to courses played and remaining on my list, along with some new courses for consideration.  I’ll share some pictures, stories and wishes for future travel.  Canada is an amazing country for public golf, go play (once the snow is melted, of course).

Bucket List Courses PlayedCabot Links, Highlands Links, The Lakes

Bucket List Courses RemainingGlen Arbour, Bell Bay, Cabot Cliffs, The Links at Brunello, Fox Harb’r

Other Courses PlayedOsprey Shores

Bucket List ContendersDigby Pines, Penn Hills

Other Courses of NoteLe Portage, Northumberland Links, Bluenose

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Overview

Nova Scotia hosts some of the greatest golf courses in Canada and the World.  Yes, they’re that good.  The development of the two Cabot courses in Inverness has placed Nova Scotia at the epicenter of the golfing world with global media reports praising the courses, the resort and the community.  And while Cabot holds its rightful place as a powerful magnet for golf in eastern Canada one needs to look well beyond the their seaside courses – Links and Cliffs – to see other golf offerings which together make Nova Scotia a cherished golf destination for all golfers.  To me, this is one reason why Nova Scotia makes for such great golf; there is something for everyone.

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You may recognize this picture if you’re a regular to my blog.  The 6th tee at The Lakes course.  An incredibly tempting risk-reward par 4. (photo credit – Andrew Stoakley)

Acknowledging the grandeur of Cabot, I’ll start with a focus on fun and value.  Osprey Shores may be the most fun I have ever had golfing, be it as a single seeking to play as many loops of 9 as I could in a day, or, part of a group of 12 on a five day getaway (golfing in a kilt was a memorable experience, too).  Osprey brings breathtaking views, sensational maritime hospitality and an unpretentious nature which all golfers will appreciate.  A 9 hole course, I would recommend it for players to get their legs under them before heading north to tackle the wonderful courses of Cape Breton.  My experience golfing in Nova Scotia is focused mostly on Cape Breton.  So with apologies to courses on the mainland (and there are several on my bucket list) I will focus for now on Cape Breton.  Highlands Links is my favourite course in Canada.  Designed by Stanley Thompson, this course carved from the forests of the Highlands, with some seaside meandering, takes me back in time.  I love everything about it.  It hosts the greatest par 5 I’ve ever played and if I could only play one more round of golf it would be there.  Contrast to this is the beauty of The Lakes at Ben Eoin.  Set along Bras D’or Lake this course is cut along the hillside; creating stunning vistas on many holes.  Well designed and framed, this championship course has hosted the Mackenzie Tour Cape Breton Open (then Celtic Classic).

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Highlands Links – the 15th hole

This is not to forget the golfing perfection that is Cabot.  Links is the best course I’ve played and Cliffs is tops on my bucket list now.  I would advocate for a shoulder season trip to Cabot to get the full experience in terms of weather (could be amazing or raw…and either would make for a great story).  Fact is, the fall season stretches nicely in the Maritimes and can combine beauty and value.  Links is a course where the superlatives just don’t do it justice, though I tried in one of my first reviews on my blog.

Cabot, Highlands Links and The Lakes made for a great golf loop in a 2014 golf trip.  But with Bell Bay and Le Portage as options and a new course at Cabot, you can (and should) stretch your trip out to Nova Scotia longer than I did.

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Osprey Shores

Travel Notes

Researching your options for travel and play are very easy using Golf Nova Scotia or Golf Cape Breton.  The two offer excellent access to course information and links to additional details to help plan a trip.  But Nova Scotia is the kind of place you almost want to get lost and explore.  The TransCanada highway provides great access from PEI (via ferry) or New Brunswick and runs efficiently to Halifax and north to Cape Breton.  But sometimes the journey is just as fun as the destination.  Unlike PEI, where you can play days and days of 36 a day (trust me on that one), the distances between courses allow for a relaxed pace and some beautiful drives between communities.  Distractions abound with hiking, food, wildlife, culture, spirits.  It’s all there…not to dismiss the golfing of course.

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This is my favourite golf hole I’ve ever played, the 16th at Cabot Links.  (photo credit – Cabot Links)

The Cabot Trail may be one of the greatest drives in the country, looping around the north and central part of Cape Breton Island.  But Nova Scotia hosts many other amazing coastal drives.  The drive from Guysborough (where Osprey Shores is located on the gorgeous shores of Chedabucto Bay) to Halifax following the Marine Drive route is stunning and underrated.  The proximity to the ocean in many cases is staggering and the small communities and hamlets which dot the coast are lovely.

Similarly, the Sunrise Trail on the north shore from Antigonish to Amherst is just as relaxed.   Stopping along the numerous beaches to dip your feet in the surprisingly warm ocean and seeking that perfect bowl of chowder are two quests to add to your own golfing bucket list.

Traveling to Nova Scotia on a number of occasions now, the consistent take away for me is that I never spent enough time and left with things I wish I had done and seen.  In closing, do your research; take your clubs; tack on a few extra days; take the scenic routes; and do, by all means, order the chowder (better yet, explore the Chowder Trail).

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The excitement of playing Cabot with good friends at the 2014 Penn Classic.

Requiem to the 2016 Golfing Season

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Requiem to the 2016 Golfing Season

OK, requiem may be a little over the top, but the official end of the golf season always makes me a little sad.  Golf Canada sets the Ontario season as April 15 to October 31 and, well, here we are on closing day.  I won’t be playing today and as such my index will remain in single digits albeit precariously so.

It’s been a great and memorable season and I hope the same is true for you too.  Closing day is a good time to reflect back on the year that was.

The bucket list continues to get dwindled down with trips to Tobiano, Salmon Arm, Banff Springs, Stewart Creek and Algonquin to put a healthy dent in the list.  My home province of Ontario is woefully underrepresented and I’ll have to address that in 2017.  Speaking of my bucket list, I have placed a call to followers on Twitter and my FB page for courses to consider adding to my list.  I’ve had about 16 additions and they look sensational.  My goal is to bolster the bucket list to close to 100 courses across Canada.

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What a beautiful day for golf!  A cool, sunny September and first group off at stunning Algonquin Golf Club in St. Andrews By-the-Sea, N.B.

Another great highlight from the year was the chance to tee it up with fellow bloggers and twitter friends.  A spring round in Calgary at the home course of Josh with @golfismental and a summer round with Tiffany @tiffchaisson and @fairwaysfund were memorable highlights.  Playing two private courses as well – Calgary GCC and The Ladies Club were simply a bonus.  But it was the company, spending quality time with two great people that made the experience.

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Tiff, with what may well be the best golfing photobomb shot ever.

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Josh and Mike set to tee it up at historic Calgary GC

I am appreciative of my engagement with the Golf Journalist Association of Canada.  Here, I was able to play with another twitter friend, Jeremy at @meximenno   It was a classy move of Jeremy to fly in from Winnipeg for the GJAC Annual Awards Dinner and Golf Day.  A great round at Beverly Golf Club outside of Hamilton provided the venue for an enjoyable experience with colleagues and friends.

I engaged the amazing services of Herb McNally @McTwentyTwo to develop a new and strong visual identity for 36aday.  Dare I say I have a visual ‘brand’ now.  You may notice a subtle change in my twitter avatar as the logo is now red.  Red will be the off season colour and green will be for golf season.  Thanks for the great work Herb, love it.

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Going with the off-season red until April 2017.

I’m enjoying my continued relationship with Canadian Golf Magazine.  Showcasing my course reviews to a wider national and international audience is something I am very grateful to be able to do.  And while I have yet to tee it up with the Editor, Frank Mastroianni, it is something to look forward to for 2017.

Also, in terms of golf relationships, I am very pleased to be a brand ambassador for Snell Golf Canada.  A true believer in their quality golf balls, I want to help introduce players to these products and allow them to make informed decisions on playing a quality ball at a quality price.  Order online and use 36aday (1-5 dozen) or 36aday6 (6 dozen +) for $2 off per dozen on any orders.  Turns good value into great value.

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My game continues it steady progression.  Working with Brian McCann with Brampton Golf and Country Club has set my game on a firm foundation and allowed me to increase my expectation.  A summer move derailed my playing and practice schedule and my index remained relatively stagnant just below 10.  But recent lessons to maximize my play off the tee raised expectation and help lower scores this fall.  A successful tournament experience at Golf Ontario’s Public Play Championships was a real highlight.

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But my best memory was a quick and casual 9 holes with my Dad at his home course, Oxley Beach outside of Kingsville, Ontario.  I’ll never forget it.  It captures all I love about the game; quality time with people I care about.

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So as the official season comes to an end I’ll continue to play until courses tell me I can’t.  I’ll work on my game and I’ll work on my writing and this blog.  I am grateful for what 2016 provided me and am excited and hopeful for more of the same in 2017!  Best wishes for a safe and healthy off-season.

Bucket List Review – Part 1 – Newfoundland

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It’s not all about the golf in Newfoundland, as this picture from beautiful Quidi Vidi can attest to.

This is the first of 10 posts that will look back on the current status of my bucket list.  Focusing on all 10 provinces, I’ll share links to courses played and remaining on my list, along with some new courses for consideration.  I’ll share some pictures, stories and wishes for future travel.  Canada is an amazing country for public golf, go play (once the snow is melted, of course).

Bucket List Courses PlayedHumber Valley

Bucket List Courses Remaining – none.

Other Courses PlayedPippy Park

Bucket List ContendersTwin Rivers; The Wilds at Salmonier River

Other Courses of NoteGander Golf Club; Clovelly Golf Club

 

Overview

I don’t know anyone who has traveled to Newfoundland purely for the golf.  It’s not a knock on arguably Canada’s most unique province.  A short golf season, a shorter supply of courses and a multitude of other options to occupy one’s time speak to realities of golf in the far eastern part of the country.  But in my experiences, like the land itself, the golf in Newfoundland is unique, memorable and very enjoyable.

Humber Valley Golf Resort hosts a nationally ranked golf course.  Canadian Golf Magazine placed it as their 37th best course in Canada in their 2015 Top 100 list.  In 2016, it was the 15th best public play in the country on their Top 50 Best You Can Play list.  Justifiably so, I might add.  It’s that special.  However, it is located on the west side of Newfoundland making this a tough course to access.  However, with relative proximity to stunning Gros Morne National Park it is a course well worth visiting; and certainly a course worth its high ranking.  You can find my review of this sensational course here.

I also had a chance to play a course only mere minutes from St. John’s Airport, Admirals Green at Pippy Park.  A delightfully relaxed course set on a crown of land overlooking the city and the ocean beyond to the east.  A benign layout; understated and enjoyable until you hit the 7th hole.  Then, bam, it hits you like a shot of screech after a kiss of the cod.

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Sensational view! Fortunate to get a clear day. This is one of the most underrated par 3’s I have ever played.  Get your yardage right, long is not good.

I will continue to explore unique golf options anytime I travel to Newfoundland.  Just outside of the city of St. John’s is The Wilds at Salmonier River.  Two hours west of St. John’s is Twin Rivers.  Of course, if pressed for time Clovelly Golf Club is a convenient option too, with 36 holes.  Gander Golf Club is another option, less accessible but no less desirable.

Travel Notes

My first trip to Newfoundland back in 2006 (and before I was savvy enough to know to bring my golf clubs) had me staying at The Beach House in Portgual Cove,  only 10 minutes outside of St. John’s.  It was the convenient for me to get to my meetings at Memorial U and I liked staying outside the city.  On the weekend, I enjoyed my ferry ride to Bell Island and the tour of the old iron mine.  Learning that German U Boats were seen patrolling around the bay during the Second World War was amazing to hear.  I had lunch and dinner for all three days at the Beachy Cove Café – a large bowl of the chowder.  It was so good I couldn’t bring myself to try anything else.  I walked the Island and meandered west, through someone’s backyard (sorry) and literally found the end of the Island.  I was staring at about a 100’ drop off to the ocean below (I backed away slowly and stopped to take in the breathtaking views).  My time at the Beach House had me parked on an Adirondack chair watching the whales breach in the harbour along with a good book and a glass of wine.  My first Newfoundland experience was one of wonder and bewilderment…and amazing seafood.

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Before (and) or after a round there’s always time for seafood and Newfoundland enjoys an abundance of fresh options.

A recent trip had me centred in Corner Brook.  While in close proximity I did not make time to visit Gros Morne National Park; this was a mistake and one I will not make again next time there.  I have also placed Twillingate (Iceberg alley) and Fogo Island on my must visit list when I can make the time.  And with no experiences yet on Labrador, I hope to have the opportunity to visit there.  Perhaps I can even get a round in at Tamarack Golf Club.  Golf Newfoundland has excellent information on the courses available in the province.

The Playing Lesson

The Playing Lesson

Not all golfers employ an instructor or coach and not all that do take advantage of a great way to combine instruction and play – the playing lesson.

In two years of instruction I had my first playing lesson recently (and it was the worst weather day of the fall season) and reflecting back the experience was fantastic.  Here are some observations on why it worked for me and why you should consider doing the same with your instructor:

  1. Pressure play – It is rare that I step on the course and not feel nervous. While I love the game, it does not always soothe my anxious tendencies but I have enough experience with this to acknowledge it and address it.  However, playing with my instructor, an accomplished player in his own right, presented unique challenges.  There was a sense on the first tee of not wanting to disappoint and a concurrent goal of showcasing recent progress along with – and this is crazy – a desire to match his strong play.  But there is a reason my index is close to 10 and his is not.  And there is a reason I am taking lessons from him.  My anxiety with golf is another story for another time but I liken this to competitive play where the nerves are heightened and it’s a place where I want to perform my best.  I welcome the pressure although I don’t always respond to it well.  The biggest variable of the day was cold and wet conditions which created a sense of discomfort over the ball for our entire group.  Most of us scored one of our worst scores of the season and after the fourth hole my instructor said to enjoy the day and not worry about performance because the conditions are so difficult to perform well.  My score didn’t improve but my attitude did.  The takeaway: not all lessons are about the swing.

 

  1. Learn from observation – the opportunity to learn is not one-way. It is not simply your instructor serving as a set of eyes and providing feedback on what they see.  In my 4 hours playing with my instructor, I purposefully used it as a chance to see how to prepares, approaches shots and situations on the course.  How does he address adversity on the course?  How does he manage holes and his game?  Does his temperament change over the round?  What is his pre-shot routine?  The observation process gave me to draw from as his feedback on my performance.  And I really valued that.  It reinforced aspects of my game I did not realize were strong (in some cases) and inconsistent (in other cases).  Make no mistake, I asked many questions after he hit shots (often about decision making and preparation/routine) and he asked questions of me after shots (both good and poor ones).  The takeaway: allow for a two-way exchange process. Ask questions. But listen to understand.

 

  1. Mindfulness – Perhaps the better word is acceptance, but I was struck with the matter of fact nature to which my instructor acknowledged – for us all – that the conditions were not going to support great play and scoring. He mentioned early that on days like this (and I assume this to be if conditions are challenging or we’re not bringing our A game) the goal is to be mindful of our game.  I took this to mean try our best, be aware of our game that day and focus more on avoiding big numbers than the pursuit of low numbers.  For him, knowing it was a tough day to get birdies he wanted to focus on the conditions and what he needed to do to get as many pars as possible.  For me, he said to focus more around the greens and keep big numbers off the card.  This meant trusting my technique around the greens and stick to a consistent routine.  It helped and looking back it was a valuable takeaway which I look to employ moving forward.  The takeaway: There will be days in golf where the game is simply more challenging than others.  Acceptance can keep the game fun and allow us to perform our best based on that day.

 

  1. Fun – Not to contradict myself from point 1, but at some point in time I always see the fun in the game. My performance will not impact my tour earnings or world golf rankings.  I scored horribly but hit some shots I am very proud of.  And most importantly, I was able to spend time with someone I consider a friend.  Sure, I’ll be nervous again next time we can schedule a playing lesson but I will also continue to smile on the course, try my best and keep the experience as a positive and fun one.  Because that is what my first-ever playing lesson was; fun.  The takeaway: Golf is a game. Try your best. Seek to learn from mistakes, not beat yourself up over them. Smile and enjoy the experience.

 

Reflecting back on my first playing lesson, this is something I would like to do more regularly…at least once a year.  I learned much – both positively (reinforcing new, positive approaches to my short game) and constructively (the need to commit to a pre-shot routine and establish clear set up fundamentals on the tee).

My instructor is Brian McCann, based out of Brampton Golf and Country Club.  My index has dropped almost 3 strokes since working with him over two years.

Updating my Canadian Bucket List

Updating my Canadian Bucket List

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Jaw-dropping views of the Rocky Mountains await golfers at Banff Springs.

Many golfers have one; a list of courses they want to play.  My list, all Canadian publicly accessible courses, is the reason I started this blog.  And three seasons in now it is worth a critical look.  After all, lists like these deserve to be viewed and reviewed regularly.  I have to give credit to my late cousin who passed too young but had a penchant for calling me following rounds at courses all over the United States.  Whistling Straits was a memorable call, but the most excited he ever was when he called me was following 36 holes at Bandon Dunes.  The resort was relatively new and he sounded like a kid who sneaked out of bed and saw Santa Claus.  That call, and his passing a couple years later, really spurned me on to make my own list and adopt a ‘make it happen’ approach to play as many great courses as I can in Canada.  Thanks for the inspiration Paul, you’ll never be forgotten…and more than just a shared passion for golf but I hope my pursuits are well aligned to your travels across the USA playing great courses every chance you could.

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Tobiano, even on a cloudy day, is nothing short of spectacular.

My list covers all ten provinces and is set at 73 courses as of today.  Looking back in three seasons of play I am proud I have been able to make it to 9 out of the 10 provinces.  Only Manitoba is left and my GJAC friend and colleague Jeremy Kehler would not be happy to know that.  This year has been an odd year for me in terms of golf and a late summer move had everything to do with that.  Of course, I continued my odd trend of playing better at the early and tail end of the season.  Specific to my bucket list I have knocked off another five courses in three provinces.  Breathtaking Tobiano and underrated Salmon Arm in BC; iconic Banff Springs and stunning Stewart Creek in Alberta and an enjoyable and beautiful Algonquin in New Brunswick.  In fact, my home province of Ontario was not covered this year.  Overall actually I have only played 8 of 24 courses I’ve listed here at ‘home’.

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The opening tee shot at Stewart Creek sets the tone for breathtaking beauty and great golf.

The Maritimes have been covered off best, with only 4 courses left in Nova Scotia on my original list.  Quebec has five courses left to play.  Ontario has 16.  Jeremy would tell me my list of two Manitoba courses is woefully underrepresented and the same could be same for Saskatchewan where I’ve played both courses on my original list.  Alberta has four left and BC has 11 remaining.

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Seaside golf at its relaxed finest at Algonquin Golf Club in New Brunswick.

I will spend time over the fall and winter months previewing each province and sharing more detail over my bucket list memories, aspirations and tips for travel if you’re fortunate enough to visit any of these courses.

I am enjoying the aspiration of completing my Bucket List and I am open to suggestions to help move this list closer to 100 courses.  The only caveat is that they cannot be a private course.  9 hole (or 6 or 12) are ok, but they need to be public courses.  Send me your recommendations, I’ll check it out and add them to my list.  Canada has over 2000 courses so hitting 100 of the best public courses in time sounds more than realistic.

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Salmon Arm Golf Club is a throwback; accuracy wins over distance.  Your game will be tested, but take the time to enjoy the natural beauty of the course and the area.

Thanks for reading and thank you for your help in expanding this list for me.  I hope it helps to inspire you to consider your own list!

 

Algonquin Golf Club – Play New Brunswick’s Best

Algonquin Golf Club – Play New Brunswick’s Best

Course Reviews – Algonquin Golf Club – Play New Brunswick’s Best

http://algonquinresort.com/golf/

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Arriving at sunrise and anticipating a great golfing experience

The drive in from Fredericton was scenic and easy; very consistent with my experiences in maritime Canada.  Traveling a little over 90 minutes to the resort town of St. Andrews By-the-Sea I was fortunate to have time to enjoy this town before and after my round at Algonquin.  The drive along the Bay of Fundy shore was quicker than I anticipated but I was excited to arrive so I welcomed the efficiency.  A quiet seafood dinner at a local pub set along the water stirred my excitement for the early morning round.

 

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The seaside views in town can complement your golfing experience.

 

I had the pleasure of teeing it up with Assistant Professional, Ryan O’Connell.  Being first group off on a cool and sunny day, my expectations were high.  After all, the drive into the course and the views from the clubhouse set the tone – the views were spectacular.  The course offers five tee decks, and as a resort course this helps to accommodate players of all skill levels.  Ryan and I chose a relaxed round off tees just under 6100 yards (Silver).  Ryan was a great host, sharing great insights on the course and layout, its history and details on current renovations which are focused on the back nine.  We walked the course in just under 4 hours, playing at a leisurely pace and allowing me time for questions and pictures.  Being mid-September it was no longer peak travel season and after my round I took time for lunch at the clubhouse.  They offered a limited menu given the time of year but their soup and sandwich were outstanding.  Add to it the views over Passamaquoddy Bay and it was a great way to celebrate a great round of golf.

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The beauty of the first hole set the tone for a relaxed round at Algonquin.

The back nine gets considerable accolades, and rightfully so, as all holes after the 10th offer a water view.  The renovation efforts led by Rod Whitman (of Cabot and Sagebrush fame) were well underway and Head Professional Jason Porter shared that they expect a launch of the renovated course for July 2017.  That said, despite the full renovation efforts, the impact on play was minimal.  The 11th is where the most significant change will take place and based on the construction and green placement, the signature hole on 12 will have a stout competitor.  I predict 11 will become many peoples favourite.  Also, work is planned on 13, a par 5, which will see work move the tee box alongside the water.  Ryan said it well; that Rod is seeking to create an Amen Corner feel.  Using the assets of the Bay and its stunning views, this will be one of the strongest three hole stretches in Atlantic Canada.  The par 3 12th is a downhill par 3 and wind is a great protector for this hole.  But I really like the intelligent design of the par 4 15th, which doglegs left and demands two great shots to reach in regulation.  Beyond the 15th is a unique landmark and reflects the rich and long history of Algonquin; Canada’s oldest Clubhouse.

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Conditions were ideal, as evident from this view from behind the 5th.

Those who appreciate golf history will love Algonquin.  The course was first built in the 1890’s and in the 1920’s Donald Ross designed an expanded course layout.  Canadian, Tom McBroom was brought in during the 1990’s to renovate the course.  Evidence of the history of Algonquin is present throughout the course, including evidence of an early tee box complete with an old stone retaining wall.  The course provides historical information on their site but like other courses in Canada, I feel they could bolster this greatly with more images, stories and detail of the changes over the years.

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Evidence of the rich history at Algonquin Golf Club with this old stone retaining wall to support an original tee deck. no longer in play but still prominent.

The front nine routes inland and is, in my opinion, a very strong nine.  I felt holes 5, 6 and 7 all provided great scoring opportunity and intelligent design features with the tee shot on 5, a risk-reward par 4 6th and a beautiful and challenging approach on 7.  Ryan shared that the course has been hard at work over several years to remove trees to open up the holes off the tee and provide a more generous landing area for players.  On 5, a par 5, he shared evidence of an expanded fairway and new rough on the right side off the tee.  The par 3 8th is an underrated golf hole, while lacking the water view of 12, brings the natural beauty of the area prominently into play.  The course played firm and fast and reflects an emerging commitment of some courses to not commit to over watering and allow for a more natural playing experience.  But make no mistake; conditions for late season were consistently great.

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Renovations led by Rod Whitman make the 11th look like it may rival the signature 12th

The course is walkable and allows players time to fully appreciate the beauty of the course and area.  The tee boxes were well kept and course conditions, as stated, were consistent and very good.  The greens were consistent and the effect of the Bay on balls was noticeable (balls on the green break toward the water).  The bunkers were in great condition, allowing for consistent shot making.  The course prides itself on excellent service and ensuring the playing experience is enjoyable.  With five tee decks it is course which you could play over and over again and not get bored with.

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Ryan O’Connell on the 12th tee.

Aura – 9 out of 10 – The 12th hole is an iconic par 3 with views of Maine off to your right and the water all around.  It reflects well the enjoyment which players will have at Algonquin.  The strength of design in the front allows for a transition to wind swept sea views throughout the back nine.  The course markets itself well and does not oversell itself.

Value (cost / experience) – 8 out of 10.  With a peak season fee over $90 this is a bucket list experience but value enhances in the fall where fees range from $45-65.  Add to this the fall colours and fewer tourists, and the value in the fall is sensational.  For me, to have what amounted to a guided tour of the course including an update on the renovations and a history lesson on Algonquin and I can’t believe my good fortune.

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More evidence of the historical assets at Algonquin Golf Club

Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 8.5 out of 10.  – The layout of the course is a true strength.  I appreciated the intelligent design of the front nine and it complemented the jaw-dropping beauty of the back nine.  The course transitioned on the back to more expansive feel but not once did I feel that holes were on top of one another.  The greens were in very good condition, bunkers were flawless and the tee boxes and fairways consistent and strong.  Again, I applaud Algonquin for a firm and fast approach to the course.

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The par 3 8th hole.

Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – If it is possible for a top 100 course in Canada to be underrated, this may be it.  The course leverages its assets exceptionally well – both people and property.  I felt a genuine welcome and experienced a course which brought a pleasant and relaxed layout with intelligent design.  I’d be proud to be a member here.

Highlight (what is great about the course) – Just stand on the tee of 12 and you’ll understand what is great about this course.  But then, talk to any member or staff person and you will know another thing that is great about Algonquin.  The people are amazing; very friendly and passionate about their course.

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Two eagle chances on 13!

 

Recommendation (magic wand…what would I change) – this is emerging as a theme for me in my experiences playing golf across the country but many courses do not leverage the history and the stories of their course and community as well as they could.  I would love to see Algonquin build a more robust section on their website about the history of this course complete with pictures and stories.

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Made time to visit the resort, only minutes away, after my round.

My Best Shot – My approach on the par 5 13th was only from 165 yards.  But with a slight breeze in my face and the ball below my feet I put a smooth swing with a 6 hybrid and the ball looked like it may hit the pin.  It ended up about 4 feet from the pin.  And sadly no, I missed the eagle putt.  But I will never apologize for tap in birdies.  This helped me to an even par 36 on the back and a sub 80 round.  A great score on a great course!041