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April 2014

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Green Golf Designs

On Tour in the Thompson Okanagan
On Tour in the Thompson Okanagan
On Tour in the Thompson Okanagan
On Tour in the Thompson Okanagan

Elmwood Golf and Country Club - "A Southwest Legend"


Elmwood Golf and Country Club - "A Southwest Legend"

By George Bowditch, Sask. Golfer

Nestled along the banks of the Swift Current Creek, Elmwood Golf and Country Club is one of the grand old ladies in golf in Saskatchewan.

A legendary golf course in Southwest Saskatchewan with its majestic clubhouse nestled atop the hill overlooking the ninth green, you will be treated in a first class way whether or not you golf or just stop by for lunch. The Elmwood Golf & Country Club first opened its links for play in 1917 and is one of the oldest golf courses in Canada.

In the 97 years since, this beautiful course has lost none of its grandeur. Looks are deceiving as the course plays harder than it first looks.

Elmwood makes creative use of the hilly and well treed landscape that runs alongside the creek. You will cross the Swift Current Creek twice and as well the creek comes to play on many other holes as well so you must be aware and plan accordingly.

The 18-hole championship course, with 6,294 yards of play, makes creative use of the surrounding hills and trees, and of course the ever present creek presents numerous challenges along the way.

Sheldon Reinhart, General Manager of Elmwood Golf and Country, has been either a member, player, professional for most of his life at Elmwood. He was asked to give his opinion on which hole in his opinion is the signature golf hole on the course.

“Our Signature in my opinion is #7. The reason being is it is a make or break hole for the round.” Reinhart went on to explain his choice.

“The #7 at the Elmwood Golf and Country Club is the longest par 4 at Elmwood!  A blind and intimidating tee shot that requires both length and accuracy.  Too far right off the tee will likely result in a lost ball so aiming to the left side of the fairway will be favorable.  The approach shot will generally be hidden so make sure you are aware of the correct line.  Missing the green right is not an option so for a bailout you need to miss it left.  Bunkers guard this large green both short left and short right.  The green slopes from back to front which favors an approach shot left short of the hole. Getting away with a Par here is like a Birdie on most other holes!”

Facilities at the Club include a restaurant and lounge, along with a fully stocked pro shop and driving range.

The friendly staff led by CPGA Head Professional, Jeff Chambers will help you in every way possible to ensure that your golfing experience is a pleasant one. The well-stocked pro shop has everything that you need to help you play and look your best. Lesson are available, just ask.

The restaurant and lounge are available for your use and the meals are superb and the drinks are cold. What a great place to relax and sum up your day on the course.

Elmwood Golf and Country Club can also host your banquet needs and tournaments. The friendly staff will help you plan your special event and leave you to enjoy the day. Contact the office and they will start working with you to ensure everything you need is taken care of.

Elmwood Golf and Country Club may be 97 years old but it is still full of life and energy. Make sure you stop by and check it out when you are in the Great Southwest. The course is a Legend and I am sure you will agree.

For more information please call 1-306-773-4653 or log on to

Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour Launches National MJT Mini Tour

Tuesday, 04 March 2014 07:46

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour (MJT) presented by Boston Pizza is launching a national Mini Tour for boys and girls ages 12 and under.

The non-profit Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour currently offers multi-day competition for Junior (17-19), Juvenile (15-16), and Bantam-aged boys (14 and under) and for Girls (19 and under), and is now introducing a circuit for a Peewee-and-under aged division for both boys and girls across the country to meet demand for age-appropriate competition over a limited number of holes and shorter yardages.

The MJT Mini Tour offers Peewee-and-under aged golfers a series of high-calibre tournaments where they can play against juniors their own age in a competitive setting from appropriate yardages. The 2014 circuit comprises 13 events from British Columbia to Atlantic Canada, each played over 18 holes with age groups of 11 to 12 years old and 10 years and under for both boys and girls. Caddies are allowed, entry fees are $69 per tournament and no membership fee is required.

The new MJT Mini Tour meets the need for young golfers who currently have few options for suitable higher-level competition and expands the opportunity for them to become tournament-ready. A number of the stops will be used to qualify players aged 11 to 12 and 9 to 10 for the 2014 Callaway Junior World Golf Championship in San Diego, CA.

For more information and schedule details, please visit or call 1-877-859-GOLF.

The Links of North Dakota

On Tour in the Thompson Okanagan
On Tour in the Thompson Okanagan

Father/Son Golf on Vancouver Island


RACV Healesville - The argument against championship length

It seems absurd to even have to ask the question. What’s more important to your club, design quality or length?

For many decision makers in Australia, the answer sadly is length and specifically that fictitious and meaningless title of a ‘championship course.’ It would be hard to argue that there was a more poisonous phrase in golf, or equally that you could improve a course by focusing on ‘championship‘ length and difficulty, instead of quality and fun. We have come a long way in this country, but in some areas there is still a ways to go.

An interesting and important case study in Australia is the RACV Healesville Country Club in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, which measures less than 5,000 metres from the tips and plays to a paltry par of just 68. It’s not the sort of course you see built often in this modern era.

At first glance even serious golfers might dismiss Healesville as too short and too easy. Its longest par four is just 351m and there are five under 305m. There are also six par threes as well as two par fives around the 420m mark. Long hitters reading this are likely licking their lips already.

Lost in the excitement of such enticing numbers are beautiful bunkers and a set of green complexes that strategically reward finesse over sheer force. Good, long players are dangerous anywhere but good, accurate players definitely have an advantage here.

When Australian Golf Digest visited RACV Healesville one glorious weekend in Spring, we found consensus among a large group of members on the one word that best describes their course; fun. This game we play, first and foremost, is meant to be fun. Suburban courses aren’t supposed to exist to test the world’s best players. They should exist to bring pleasure and enjoyment to their memberships and nothing sucks enjoyment from the game quicker than holes the average golfer cannot handle. Pars don’t necessarily come cheaply at Healesville, but they aren’t defended to the death. Virtually any golfer stepping onto virtually any tee here has a chance of at least making par. It’s a recipe that regular players enjoy.

None of the members we met mentioned wishing for additional length, or for more difficult holes. The only frustration we sensed was from those who admitted to not yet being able to figure out some of the putting contours. It wasn’t a criticism of the course as such, but rather of their own putting prowess.

By contrast, in recent months we have spoken with a number of clubs around Australia whose underperforming golf courses need refreshing and whose primary aim seems to be on making them harder. Harder golf invariably means longer golf, which invariably leads to both more expensive golf and more time consuming golf. Sure there might be a section of the membership keen to make things tougher, but is that really the direction we should be heading in this day and age?

Lead designer on the Healesville redevelopment (2006-09) was Michael Cocking, now a partner with Ogilvy Clayton Golf Design. Cocking says the project was rare because the client (RACV) did not interfere and gave him the freedom to build the sort of holes he wanted. The design team never seriously considered lengthening the existing course, but instead looked to create more interesting holes, which would reward thoughtful and imaginative play. As Cocking explains, ‘my goal at Healesville was to build one of the best sets of greens in the country and to capture the essence of the great short fours and fives on the Sandbelt.’

Sub 300m holes are certainly back in fashion and they do look good on the scorecard. There is a significant difference, however, between a strategic teaser that offers all golfers a glimpse at birdie and a hole that is simply short. Think the 1st hole at Royal Sydney, for example, which is so uncomfortably tight that most players have no choice but to lay back. By comparison, holes like the 9th and 18th at Healesville are effective because they genuinely tempt golfers across the ability spectrum into taking a gamble from the tee. They also change dramatically with each new pin position.

In the race to stay relevant, it isn’t surprising that some clubs lean instinctively toward length and difficulty. All too often, however, we forget that fun and challenging holes are more enjoyable to play than long and demanding ones. It’s true in Scotland, the birthplace of our game, and it’s also true here in Australia; whether it’s on the Sandbelt, down at Barnbougle Dunes or your local municipal course. While good players often love the longer holes most of us prefer the ‘cute’ par three or the reachable four or five. Sometimes it takes an excessively short course like Healesville to remind us of the value of subtlety and variety in design, and that nipping a precise pitch to a sharply angled green should be as important a skill as smashing your drive hundreds of metres down the fairway.

We aren’t suggesting here that all clubs should cut their par back to 68, but they should at least be open to the idea of a drop from 72. Study the best courses globally and you quickly see how arbitrary the notion of a standardised 72 par golf course really is. Among the world’s Top 10 courses, for instance, Pine Valley, Royal Dornoch and Shinnecock Hills are all par 70s. Royal County Down, Oakmont, Muirfield and Ballybunion are 71s. Furthermore, each of St Andrews (Old), Merion, Shinnecock Hills and Pine Valley has only two par fives, just like at Healesville. Why again does your club insist on four?

Further down the World Top 100 list, the likes of Swinley Forest, Rye and West Sussex in England are all superb courses with a par in the high 60s. Each is much longer than Healesville, but has either more par threes than standard or fewer par fives, or both. Few visiting golfers are even aware of the shorter par when they play here.

As we know, one of the biggest challenges facing course designers these days is the widening gap between the distances strong professionals hit and the average amateur. The answer can’t always be back tees. Often it’s shorter holes, lower pars or more interesting greens and bunkers. The average club golfer, for example, loves par threes while the professionals generally struggle in comparison to the fours and fives. It doesn’t really seem to make sense, therefore, that in this modern era the industry standard isn’t to have more par threes than par fives. If an industry like ours needs standards, then the modern par should really be 70, not 72.

Golf faces serious challenges in this country over coming years, and clubs can’t just pay lip service to the notion of their courses existing for the pleasure of their members. If hard decisions need to be made and changes to your layout are required, it’s important to ask a couple of fundamental questions. Do we really need a par of 72? Do we really need to market ourselves as a ‘championship course’? And should we be making holes harder or more fun? A round at RACV Healesville with an open mind might just change the perspective of those who answered yes to any of the above.

Darius Oliver, Architecture Editor

Golf and What it All Means

Golf can best be defined as an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle, followed by a good bottle of beer.

Golf! You hit down to make the ball go up. You swing left and the ball goes right. The lowest score wins, on top of that, the winner buys the drinks.

Golf is harder than baseball. InGolf, you have to play your foul balls.

If you find you do not mind playing Golf in the rain, the snow, even during a hurricane, here is a valuable tip ...your life is in trouble.

Golfers who try to make everything perfect before taking the shot rarely make a perfect shot.

A 'gimme' can best be defined as an agreement between two golfers ...neither of whom can putt very well.

An interesting thing about Golf is that no matter how badly you play, it is always possible to get worse.

Golf's a hard game to figure. One day you'll go out and slice it and shank it, hit into all the traps and miss every green. The next day you go out and for no reason at all you really stink.

If your best shots are the practice swing and the 'gimme putt', you might wish to reconsider this game.

Golf is the only sport where the most feared opponent is you.

Golf is like marriage, if you take yourself too seriously it won't work, and both are expensive. The best wood in most amateurs' bags is the pencil.

The Links of North Dakota