Arts and Recreation in
Golf and Golfing
Well, not exactly game on, since the game is golf and this is Northern
Ontario. Still, the golf season is stirring, and I know that because
this past week I had my first Bonnaire discussion.
For those not in the know, for many years the Bonnaire golf course, near
Coldwater, has been the early season destination of many Sudbury and
area golfers. In fact, Iíve only ever played Bonnaire in the early
season; Iíve never seen it with leaves on its many trees. Still, it
feels like a local course in the early season. I can clearly recall
standing on the first tee, looking around and recognizing half a dozen
foursomes I would normally encounter on one or the other of Sudburyís
Recently, however, Bonnaire has lost some of its early season appeal
courtesy of global warming, I suppose. Last summer, our first trip to
Bonnaire was postponed by a forecast of poor weather in the south.
Disappointing, yes, but almost as quickly we discovered that Cedar
Green, in Garson, had opened 9 holes for play that same weekend. We
never did get down to Coldwater last year.
Still, old habits. Bonnaire came up in discussion, and that, as much as
the small flock of ducks I saw winging over Lily creek, signaled that
spring is near. The next sign will be the inevitable Easter assessment
It will happen this way: I will be sitting with family at the Idylwylde
golf and Country Clubís Easter Brunch, staring out the windows, looking,
hopefully, down the first fairway for signs of green grass between the
left over piles of snow. And I fully expect to see snow. Easter comes
early this year, near the end of March, so wishing that all the snow
will be gone by then is rather too optimistic, even in these dawning
days of global warming. But I will look, and others will, too, and we
will try to guess how soon it will be before we are out and playing.
While we wait, however, perhaps some planning is in order, course
strategy type planning, that is. Since I am, in my mindís eye at least,
staring down he first hole at the Idylwylde in Sudbury, thatís as good a
hole to start with as any. Itís a par 5, not particularly long at about
485 yards, but is has one of the old greens at the course, very small,
guarded by water on the right front and bunkers left and right.
The fairway bends a little to the left about a hundred yards out where
it crests and falls down to a low-lying section that begins to run back
to the right a bit and away to the green. The right hand side of the
fairway is sloped up and bounded by rough giving way to trees. On the
left, trees short but growing sparse as the fairway bends slightly to
run parallel to the second hole.
A strong tee shot crests the hill and will run down the slope into the
lower level. Too far left can leave the player with a long shot from
long rough or even from a small fairway trap. A bad hook off the tee
sends he ball into deep trees and, if far enough, swampy area from which
there is no recovery. A successful tee shot requires a bit of flirtation
with right of center, but with any distance the ball will end up on flat
fairway looking straight away to the hole. That route also cuts some
distance, and a strong driver can often find himself with a 5 or 6 iron
Looking at a mid-iron to a par five on a second shot gets the blood
going, but remember (especially early in the season) that the green is
small, hard and protected. Flare it right, and your ball will disappear
over the raised edge of the pond. Pull it left and you could be
trap-bound or into bushes or the rough at the bottom of the hill that
holds the second tee. Hit it unexpectedly hard (been working out in the
off season?) and end up in the trees and scrap behind the target looking
at a chip to a green that runs quickly away from back to front. Recovery
from any of those positions requires some finesse that isnít always
called on command in the early season.
On the other hand, what the heck. It is early season, and anything
struck on line will be fine. If hit a bit short, your ball will still be
a flip to the green and a shot at birdie. And for many, the urge to have
a go will be too great to pass up. Laying up, after all, will likely
require a 7, an 8 or even a 9 iron, and thereís just something ewww
about laying up with a scoring club.
For those inclined to play the hole as a regulation three shot par 5
then, the ideal tee shot isnít everything in the bag. Itís a three wood
or even a five wood put into play short. Then you can hit that mid-iron
for a lay up short of all the trouble even if you push it, and be
looking at a gap or sand wedge to finish it off. In other words, make
your decision about having a go at the green in two before you even tee
The so short par 5 first at the Idylwylde looks relatively benign, but
it can be tricky. Good. Thatís the way golf is supposed to be.