Tower Ranch – An Awe-Inspiring Mountain Golf Experience

Tower Ranch – An Awe-Inspiring Mountain Golf Experience

Course Reviews – Tower Ranch – An Awe-Inspiring Mountain Golf Experience

http://www.golftowerranch.com/

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My approach shot on the first hole at Tower Ranch.  Hard not to get distracted by the view.

For anyone who’s played golf in the Okanagan Valley in B.C., you may see some similarities to Tobiano when you visit Tower Ranch.  It is hard to avoid the comparisons; really, given the ruggedness of the landscape and the fact that Canadian course architect Thomas McBroom designed both Tower Ranch and Tobiano.  Journalist Robert Thompson has stated Tower Ranch is like Tobiano but without the majesty.  But having experienced them both now I would contest that Tower Ranch has its own unique majestic beauty and a brilliant back nine which allows the course to finish strong and leave players wanting more.

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Looking high up from the second green.

Set in the eastern hills of Kelowna, set very high over the city and Okanagan Lake, Tower Ranch was built in 2008 and is certainly one of the finer championship courses in the region.  Complementing the excellent golf options in the Okanagan, Tower Ranch is worthy of its place on Canadian course ranking lists.  Canadian Golf Magazine placed this in the Top 50 Public Courses in 2016 and it is certainly worthy of its place on that list.  I was fortunate to visit on a sunny spring morning, and feel McBroom was fortunate to have access to such a great piece of land to work with. The views of the opening holes and the city and lake below create a great first impression and I knew my golf game and my camera would get a good workout.

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Holding my finish on the par 3 5th hole.

As had been mentioned by other reviewers I read leading up to my visit, one critique is the lack of a practice range.  But working on the short game and getting used to the speed of the greens and the effect the slope has on the ball was worth the extra time.  Checking in was easy, as the staff were courteous and professional and made me feel most welcome.  My bag was loaded onto a cart – it is a course one needs to use a cart.  While I prefer walking I can appreciate the need for some courses to be cart only and this one certainly warrants that policy.

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The par 3 7th hole shows the challenges of this Tom McBroom design.

The layout is such that McBroom manages the significant elevation changes more directly on the opening nine with the first three holes playing significantly downhill.  Of course, heading back to the clubhouse at the turn, this makes the 8th and 9th even more challenging as stout, uphill holes to end the opening nine.  The course was in immaculate condition.  Even for early in the season the tall grasses which guard many of the holes set off from the generous fairways were high and thick.  Playing off an appropriate tee box will help make the round more enjoyable.  Make no mistake; this is a challenging championship layout.

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A tough set of bunkers short of the 9th green.

I felt the back nine was one the most enjoyable and challenging I have played in some time.  The mastery of McBroom’s work is seen a stretch from 11 to 15 where a stretch of 4-3-4-3-5 showcase the rugged landscape and his design brilliance.  The par 5 15th invites players to challenge the dogleg and bite off as much ground as possible; it is a stretch of holes I’d love play on a more regular basis.  And it certainly reinforces the need for a cart-only policy.

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The 11th tee starts off my favourite stretch of the course.  This is my favourite hole on the course.

The tee boxes were immaculate and very flat.  Greens were pristine and I stopped looking for ball marks after about 5 holes, not finding any; it is nice to see players and staff take such pride in their course.  The bunkering around the greens are demanding but fair.  The greens are not easy, with slope and in many cases false fronts which will make approach shots and greenside shots more challenging.  The pictures help tell the story and provide a compelling case for Tower Ranch as a must play when visiting Kelowna and the Okanagan region.

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The par 3 12th hole shows off the dramatic landscape and the rugged beauty of the area.

Aura – 9 out of 10 – The drive up to the course created that this was going to be a special experience.  The clubhouse is large and is located to provide convenient access and stunning views.  Having experience the course for myself it is possible it may even be somewhat underrated in its beauty.  I appreciated the solitude of the golf experience on the back nine.  Holes 12 and 13 were two of the most peaceful and enjoyable I have played, set at the farthest reaches of the course and away from any development.  It lacks the profile of some other excellent Canadian public courses more highly rated but holds its own as an excellent public course.

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Love the views from the back nine.

Value (cost / experience) – 7 out of 10.  Peak fees are $123 are not going to attract the highest marks as a value play, but value is defined relation to quality and this is where this course is strong.  Membership is $3250 for an individual with unlimited access and this includes cart access.  Make no mistake, this is a very high quality course and it’s well worth a visit.

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The par 5 15th was so exciting to experience.  A brilliant design and fun to play.

Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 9 out of 10 – In a word, exceptional.  The attention to detail from the superintendent and staff is seen throughout.  The course is well designed, exceptionally maintained and McBroom has added another gem to his course of Canadian designs.  While not a fan of tall grasses which can over penalize misses, the contouring on many holes help kick balls back to the fairway.  On the opening stretch of holes this was appreciated.

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The par 5 17th.  Exceptional sight lines off the tee.

Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – 8.5 out of 10 – Tower Ranch provides a unique and high quality golf experience that reinforces Kelowna and the Okanagan as an exceptional golf destination.  With a strong closing nine and a staff whose commitment to service and a quality golf experience, I look forward to when I can return and play again.  The round capped off a truly memorable 24 hours in Kelowna, having played Gallagher’s Canyon the afternoon before.

Highlight (what is great about the course) – I like the feel of the elevated tee shots on 1, 2 and 3.  But the experience on the 12th and 13th tee, feeling I have the course to myself and not seeing anyone else around was a feeling I won’t soon forget.  Add the countless views of the city and lake below and there is much that is great about Tower Ranch.

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The view from the 17th green over Kelowna and Okanagan Lake.  I’ll be back!

Recommendation (magic wand…what would I change) – I lost a number of balls in the tall rough on the front nine…but if you’re asking what I’d change, first, I’d say a straighter game for myself off the tee.  The course is fair and tough.  If pressed, I’d lower the rough along the mounding on the elevated holes on the front but Tom McBroom places a premium on accuracy and I wouldn’t change that.

My Best Shot – My approach on 15 was blind down to the green set below and I hit a wedge shot that I felt was good.  Well, as it turned out, it released and slowly rolled closer and closer to just outside of 4 feet but still on the high side.  Unable to get the delicate putt in for a birdie, my par on 15 (as with the few others I had) was one of satisfaction.

Bucket List Update – Spring 2017

Bucket List Update – Spring 2017

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Will 2017 bring me to exciting destinations like St. Andrews By The Sea in New Brunswick again?  Playing Algonquin was certainly a 2016 highlight.

My decision to expand my personal Canadian public course ‘bucket list’ from about 72 courses to close to 100 was met with mixed reaction.  To be more specific, one person commented that can a list of close to 100 public courses in Canada be considered a ‘bucket list’ or does it simply become just a list?  A fair and valid critique and one best argued over a pint on the 19th hole of many of Canada’s best public (or private) courses.  I am unapologetic about my bucket list and as I mentioned before, there’s a certain degree of self-indulgence in this list of mine.  But arguing for it, the 2015 Golf Facilities in Canada Report cited 2126 public golf courses in the country.  Looking at my current list of 98 courses, this is merely 4.6 percent of that total.  Picking almost 100 from over 2100 ensures strong geographic representation with a quality focus.

With the exception of the territories, my list covers off all 10 provinces.  My additions are not represented in all 10 provinces – at this time.  In 2015 I had played ten courses in PEI to complete my bucket list there.  And while none were added over the winter, I am getting some people mention to me that I should consider adding Belfast Highland Greens, a stunning 9-hole course which plays to a par 37.

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Early morning mist and shadows shrouded the second tee at Green Gables in October 2015.

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British Columbia can seem like an obvious choice for bucket list courses but getting off the beaten path can open up gems like Talking Rock in Chase, BC.

To-date I have played 31 courses on my list.  There’s a shockingly low number played in my home province of Ontario and I have yet to tee it up at all in Manitoba (which @meximenno is quick is remind me of regularly).

My goals for 2017 are to play Tower Ranch and Gallgaher’s Canyon in Kelowna while in BC on business.  Other courses will likely be in Ontario this year, understanding there’s several great options in Muskoka I hope to access this fall.  Others could be more a one-off with day trip potential to get in 18 or 36 an option for me.  I don’t see other extended travel this summer for me but we shall see.   This is a list I can work on over the years and having the anticipation of quality public golf across the country provides all the justification I need to have added to my list.

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The par 4 16th at Cabot Links remains my favourite golf hole in Canada.  But will I discover a course that possesses a new favourite for me in 2017?

What courses are on your must play list?  Is a list of 100 public courses in Canada too large to be considered a bucket list?  And most important, am I missing any courses?  Check my list and my bucket list map to see where I still have to venture to and play.  With golf season almost here for all of Canada I hope there’s a golfing bucket list adventure planned for you in 2017.

Looking Ahead to 2017

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Mid-January but always dreaming of getting in 36 a day!

We’re well into 2017 now and while the golf clubs continue to sit idly, except for indoor dome or simulator action, I know it’s only a few months now until the season begins.  But I am not spending of the off-season quietly sitting and waiting for spring’s arrival.  A new year brings optimism but also a plan and a commitment to improve.  So here are some thoughts, projections and plans for the year ahead:

  1. Getting my mind and body fit.

Reflecting back, I don’t think I’ve looked at my off-season preparation for golf in a truly holistic manner.  I’d try to hit balls as often as I could and workout every now and then but it never was truly effective.  A late summer move to my childhood hometown has helped me get into some more healthy habits.  Combined with a couple health apps on my smartphone and an investment in new exercise equipment I am giving 2017 a chance to be more healthy, happy and successful on (and off) the golf course.

Better sleep, better diet, an exercise regime which will focus on my heart and my overall flexibility are already helping me feel better.  I am reading more often – golf and non-golf books – and am starting to learn French.  All this to say is that my view on improving my golf game is being viewed physically, mentally and emotionally now.  I am continuing my golf lessons over the winter months and feel once I get to the middle of April I will be ready to build on my successes of last season.

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I can’t golf every day.  But like this sign says, at Eagles Glenn in Cavendish, PEI, I can have a good day and make choices to help me get better.

  1. More Champions and LPGA golf, less PGA Tour

Ever so slightly, I am starting to sour on the PGA tour.  Where I am finding enjoyment on

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I feel like I’m the only one not scoring 59.

TV is through the PGA Champions and LPGA.  Here I see players who hit it only slightly farther and play courses closer in length to what I do.  It is increasingly difficult for me to relate to PGA stars that hit the ball so far and are seemingly automatic around and on the greens.  I understand on TV we see the leaders play and those are the players who are playing the best.  But seeing pros dissect 500 yard par 4’s with driver and 9 iron just doesn’t appeal to me.  Maybe part of it is that in 2017 I become eligible for the Champions Tour (age-wise anyway. Yes, it’s a milestone year).  Don’t get me wrong, like you I’ll be glued to the Masters and all the important tournaments and I’ll still get more than my share of PGA Tour viewing in.  But with weekly scores of 59 or 60 now, and tour players’ relentless commitment to training the game is not what it once was to me.  My issue is not the players, it’s the ball…but that’s another rant for another day.

  1. Business Travel Plans

My 2017 business schedule is locked in.  I have extended visits to Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal lined up.  I certainly plan on tacking on some time out west to play Sagebrush and maybe one or two others on my Bucket List.  I have yet to explore the options (time or courses) for Ottawa or Montreal but the clubs will be coming with me and my habit of mixing some pleasure after business will continue.  I will do my research but not hesitate to put a call out on Twitter or FB for recommendations of places to play to help build my itinerary.  I’ll be hard pressed to match my success from the 2016 season which had me play in British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick.  There, I was able to knock off 5 courses off the Bucket List as well as play two others.  This year I’d like to knock off just as many on my revised list.

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No trips to Cape Breton planned for 2017…yet!

  1. Membership has its privileges

It’s possible I’ve buried the lede here but I have joined Hidden Lake Golf Club in my hometown of Burlington, ON.  As an associate member I can control the value proposition for myself but still get all the benefits of belonging, including the chance to play in the Club Championship in August.  The membership structure is such I can still make a commitment to play public courses in the area from time to time (I will not abandon my pursuit of my bucket list) yet have access to practice and playing facilities close to my home and at a fraction of the cost of other area courses.  It’s been over 35 years since I was a member at a club so this will feel new but will also be exciting.  I expect to wear out their short game practice area over the year.  But even in terms of rounds played, 20 rounds is simply not going to cut it (that was my total for 2016, one of my lowest numbers in some time).

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Christmas Eve 2015 – Hidden Lake Golf Club

  1. Practice with purpose. Play more competitively.

My index is currently 9.6 but that is not consistent throughout my game.  My weakest parts of my game are irons and short game (I’m more a 15).  I’ve worked hard to become an average putter and my long game/tee game has vastly improved (here, I’m closer to a 5).  So, to get better I feel I need to focus 3/4 of my time inside of 150 yards and most of that inside of 50 yards.  My new course will provide me great access and space to do so.  Through my instruction with Brian McCann I will create a plan to review and address areas of my game which are weak.  I love practicing and get much from an hour or two on the greens, range or short game area.

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OK, maybe this is extreme, but I do plan on making a greater commitment to practice in 2017.

Also, I am hopeful to play more competitive golf in 2017.  I wrote about my experience in 2016 at the Golf Ontario Baka Public Player Championships.  I won’t be eligible for that this year and will need to focus within my new club to get the competitive experiences I now crave.  An August Club Championship and weekly Men’s night will be a good starting point.  I’ll explore other options too as I love the competitive nature of golf.  But even with that, my filter for golf will always be to have fun.  It’s an amazing game.

Like New Year’s resolutions (which I no longer make) I don’t want to set a firm goal for 2017.  I strive to be a scratch golfer and break par regularly.  I have never broken par, my best round +3.  However, if pressed on the issue I’d like to see if I can get my index down to 5.0  This is a milestone I am seeking to achieve.   I have much work to do to get there…we’ll see how things go!

It’s going to be a fun 2017 golf season; I hope it’s an enjoyable and successful.

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Here’s to many great days for us all in 2017.  Play well friends.

 

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.

Business Travel and Golf

 

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It’s under two hours to get from Fredericton, NB to the beautiful shores on the Bay of Fundy in St. Andrews By the Sea, NB.

Business Travel and Golf

It is now customary for me to tag along a day or two when traveling for business to get in some golf and tick another great course off my Canadian golf bucket list.  My approach is consistent.  I’ve done this already this year in British Columbia and Alberta.  Here is my itinerary from a recent trip to New Brunswick to share my planning process:

Finishing work at 4:00 pm gave me 28 hours before flying home.  This window of time allowed me to get to the airport, rent my car, drive to my destination, check into my hotel, eat dinner, sleep, wake up, grab breakfast and get to the course.  After the round, I would grab lunch, quickly tour town and drive 90 minutes back to the airport.  28 hours created some purposefulness but the trip never felt rushed.  Besides, it’s hard not to relax when you’re in maritime Canada.

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The famous 12th hole (as seen up from the left of the green) at the Algonquin Resort Golf Club.  If this won’t help you relax after two days of business then nothing will.

Here are my tips and golf travel essentials to help you make the most of your next trip.

  1. Golf course access – the focus of your pre/post trip is golf so make sure you can access the course(s) you’d like to play before committing further. Easiest thing to do is to contact the course and ask if there is tee time availability on the date/window of time you’re planning to play.  Stating you’re from away and coming in as a single helps them understand your situation and can avoid surprises for you (perhaps the day you plan to arrive is the day after aeration of the greens, or worse, they are hosting some charity event and while there are tee times the first one is too late for you).  In some cases it may open up access you may not otherwise get access to.  Calling Algonquin resort in advance allowed me to access the earliest tee time available on my day of play which helped considerably.

 

  1. Know the fixed variables – Being clear on when work ends and when the flight home are the two most critical factors. I seek to ensure I have a window of time that is realistic.  Car rental agencies are generally much more flexible than airlines (Unless you’re willing to pay) but any significant changes to the itinerary could help you by calling them in advance.  As for variables beyond your control, do give consideration to the weather forecast on the day you want to play and pack accordingly.  And always have a toque in the golf bag.

 

  1. Accommodation – My philosophy on accommodation revolves around convenience and price, (with a caveat of some standard of cleanliness and user satisfaction). I like researching prices on an aggregator site and tend to use the same one to accumulate frequent user rewards (after using the site 10 times I get a free stay).  I like reputable chains but am willing to try a quaint place that receives great reviews.

 

  1. Golf Clubs – There are two camps here – to rent or to travel with your clubs. I personally prefer to travel with my clubs and as a result there are three golden rules: lock your golf travel bag; use a Club Glove stiff arm (or reasonable facsimile) and don’t skimp on your golf travel bag.  If you’re comfortable renting then consider these three rules: bring your own golf shoes, glove and a small bag of balls, tees, etc.; research in advance about the rental club options as some courses have two levels of rentals; and lastly, be accepting.  You chose not to bring your new driver so don’t get frustrated when you get a model of club you don’t prefer.

 

  1. Transportation – for me, it’s usually a vehicle rental. I love driving and find it relaxing.  Here, again, loyalty can pay off with rewards offered at most outlets.  Airport rentals are generally processed faster and their vehicles are newer.  One important item is to map your route and budget for some extra time in the event of unexpected traffic issues.  My buddies swear by an app called Waze to get you somewhere as quick as possible.  Last, sure you’re in a rush to leave and get to the course but take the time to get the seat and mirrors properly adjusted…and if possible to sync up your smartphone so you can enjoy some travel tunes.
  2. Keepsakes – I’ve practically walked from the rental car to the first tee (with a quick check in) but I always try to make some time afterward to check the pro shop. I love pin flags and also collect golf balls and markers with the course emblem on them.  Of course, the sale rack can unlock some great value too.   Here is a good alternative to airport shopping for those at home (especially if they like golf)

 

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Took a break from my pint of Picaroons and my Lobster Roll to capture this fiery sky.

 

  1. Food – this is one area I stretch the budget. My affinity for seafood and a          willingness to ask and try local favourites means I avoid fast food and seek out local flavours.  Trip Advisor and Yelp allows me to filter user satisfaction with food types.  Sometimes it’s a pub, other times finer dining.  Food is often part of the experience for me.  I’ve traveled with people who would eat on the cheap and spend more for accommodation (meaning they’re comfortable eating McDonalds but want the assurance of a high end place to stay).  Make your own determination and know what’s important.  It is always ideal when you can get both.  When I have time, I actually like to eat at the course before or after a round.  Many courses create a dining experience that rivals their golf experience.

 

  1. Pictures – As a rule I get to a course with close to 100% battery power on my phone to allow me to take pictures. I advise playing partners I’ll be taking some pictures for my blog so as to manage their expectation.  I keep the phone in my left pocket for easy access as I seek to minimize the impact on pace of play.

 

  1. Manage expectation – The number one goal of golf while traveling on business should be fun; you’re playing a course you may not otherwise access to. Shooting a high score, especially if you’re using rental clubs, should be irrelevant and not keep you from having fun.  Besides, maybe the rental putter is the magic club you’ve been seeking for years (take a picture and note the make and model…that’s why e-Bay was created!).  Smile and enjoy the fact you’re on the course.

 

  1. Be a good visitor – I always seek business cards from the courses I play. In many cases, upon learning I am a blogger with journalist accreditation they welcome the chance to host a guest reviewer.  I like to extend thanks to courses for allowing me access to their course.  My philosophy is simple: the currency of my blog is the relationships I am able to cultivate.  I sincerely appreciate the chance to experience their home course and want to let them know that.

 

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A most appropriate place to eat in St. Andrews.  The Lobster Roll did not disappoint.

Lastly, and perhaps most important, is to budget for the side trip.  I set funds aside throughout the year to allow me to tack on the day or two and enjoy a guilt-free and pleasurable experience without impacting the bottom line.  With a flight covered from work, the additional expenses create value, help me experience great golf across Canada and help make a significant dent in my bucket list.

 

The chance to have played golf in 8 provinces now has taught me a few things about business travel and golf.  I know I am not alone.  I’d welcome hearing your tips for maximizing golf experiences on business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to travelproof your game

Yesterday I played the best round of golf in my life, a +2 74 on a course in Hamilton ON, Dragons Fire. Despite the tees being moved forward I still had to execute golf shots, scramble and sink putts.

I strive to play my best every round but have a history of getting in my own way and derailing potentially successful rounds. The excitement of playing well, and the knowledge of knowing I’m playing well, has been impossible for me to maintain over 18 holes in the past. There were two factors which helped contribute to my success yesterday that I want to share (for your benefit and as a reminder to me). These two factors may help golfers who are traveling to new and nice courses.

044 First is to maintain a pace of play that will be optimal for you (within reason, please). Some people play very fast and others less so. When I travel to play golf I look back and find the round was a blur; oh, I can remember some shots here and there but the round does not have the flow I would like to think back about. My cousin who has played extensive amateur tournament golf shared some good advice for me in terms of scoring well. First, develop and trust a pre-shot routine and don’t hit a ball until you’ve gone through that routine. This can take the nerves out of the equation somewhat by helping you focus on one shot at a time. His second piece of advice and I followed this for the first time for 18 holes, and that is to take more time over putts. Read the putt from a couple angles possibly, visualize the line to see the ball go in the hole and trust the putt. I made 8 putts over 5 feet in length (which is nothing amazing, but very good for me).

The second factor which was instrumental once I was done the 15th and knew I was +1 was to think of each 3 hole stretch as its own micro round. The course I played has a 5-3-5 final stretch and it would have been easy to get all wide eyed thinking about birdie opportunities to get to even par or better. I am proud I did not do this. Instead, I stood on 16 seeking to hit a good shot and position myself for a good start on this 3 hole round. It helped and I started with a pedestrian par. A good tee shot on 17 was met with bad luck as a wind gust held my ball up and it landed short and fell back into a hazard. I maintained routine, took my medicine and bogeyed the hole. On 18, I was not greedy and simply tried to hit a good tee shot to give me a chance to get back to even for this 3 hole stretch. I missed a birdie putt on the high side and tapped in for par and a +1 on that leg and an overall +2. 042

Everything was deliberate, even my walking rate and breathing. As a public player with a bucket list to cross off there are some outstanding courses which create more than the usual amount of first tee jitters, some of which last for many holes. I feel these tips will help me realize it’s just me and the course. And regardless of how prestigious and pristine the course is, it is the same game and requires the same execution. I welcome your thoughts to this approach and any additional tips you may have on how to travelproof your game!

It’s Golf and Travel Show Season

It’s an annual rite of passage.  Locked in the grips of a long Canadian winter, I ventured into downtown Toronto to wander and dream.  Let’s be clear, I could attend this show on a weekly basis so I have a significant bias.  In 2012, I had my fitting which resulted in a custom fit Ping putter; the first putter I haven’t sworn at or ‘retired’.  Having attended this for years now, I have seen the subtle changes.  Some exhibitors are no longer coming to Toronto and in their place are new exhibitors.  At the core, this is a golf show with a side of travel.  But enough of the superlatives, time for the deep dive.

In the early years, I was like a 10 year old at Halloween.  I tried to grab as much as I could.  Books, discounted rounds and as much free swag as I could gather.  My hand hurt with signing for so many draws: free rounds, stay and plays, or vacations.  Now, with a focus on quality over quantity and a national focus, I look with a more critical eye.   This year, I left with one small bag of information that is important to me, which included business cards.  In Toronto, they give away 5,000 rounds of golf each year; a nice incentive to line up early.  CPGA professionals offer lessons on site.  Instructional sessions are seemingly ongoing with the likes of The Golf Fix’s Michael Breed.  And there’s always something for junior golfers – unique giveaways and instructional time.

My small town heart draws me over, year by year, to the booths of Golf PEI and Golf Nova Scotia.  This year I spent considerable time talking and listening.  I am interested in the sustainability of the industry, the growth of golf in Canada and the opportunities golf ‘destinations’ like eastern Canada have to support this.   I spend 15 minutes talking to the General Manager of Authentic Seacoast, John Stapleton, who also runs the quaint and picturesque Osprey Shores resort.  We talked golf, business, weather and I had a chance to thank him in person for an amazing stay along with 15 friends last August. With the lads from the Golf Nova Scotia booth

Sure, there was swag (although the quantity seems to diminish each year).  There are deals (on golf, golf travel and equipment) and there is instruction, food too, and if you’ve done this for many years there are people to connect with!  I joined GTA Golf Club, a golf community which will allow me discounted fees for golf in the Greater Toronto Area; meeting the owners allowed me to ask important questions to inform my decision.

At the end of the day, this is an event that brings excitement, enthusiasm and optimism.  Spring WILL eventually get here; the golf season will arrive.  And we can wander around and explore places to travel, places to play, equipment to use, and recharge our batteries for a game we love!

Until next year (not next week)!  Thanks to the organizers and exhibitors who make the Toronto Golf and Travel Show (and similar shows across the country) possible.