Arts and Recreation in Northern Ontario
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, I�ve only ever played Bonnaire in the early season; I�ve 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 Sudbury�s courses.
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 of conditions.
It will happen this way: I will be sitting with family at the Idylwylde golf and Country Club�s 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 mind�s eye at least, staring down he first hole at the Idylwylde in Sudbury, that�s as good a hole to start with as any. It�s 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 in.
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 isn�t 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 there�s 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 isn�t everything in the bag. It�s 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 it up.
The so short par 5 first at the Idylwylde looks relatively benign, but it can be tricky. Good. That�s the way golf is supposed to be.