Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/9/2020 (498 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Think twice before storing your golf clubs just yet.
Even though frost delays are pushing back morning rounds and fallen leaves are about to make finding balls a frustrating challenge, there are hopefully plenty of good golf days left before the snow hits.
It wasn’t five months ago we were worried the season might not happen or get shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s not long before we go another six months without a birdie.
Considering the number of unknowns surrounding this winter and restrictions on indoor activities, take advantage of all the tee times we have left.
Maybe you’re tired of seeing the same old nine or 18 holes and need a change of scenery? Well, you’re in luck. Westman courses are offering plenty of unique ways to play golf at some fantastic rates in the coming weeks.
Coming up on Oct. 3, Gilbert Plains Country Club has its Ironman tournament. It’s a four-person scramble with the 6,396-yard track tipped out to the absolute max. Superintendent Donnie Senyk is making sure the greens are cut and rolled to lightning fast speeds with pin positions sure to cause even the best players to scratch their heads.
"It’s quite a bit (of fun)," Senyk chuckled.
"About two weeks before, you start looking at the greens differently and trying to figure out where you’re going to put ‘em. It’s the only time they can’t complain that you’ve put ‘em bad."
Senyk has been keeping the 18-hole gem 32 kilometres west of Dauphin in top shape since 1997, and knows just how to make the course playable — or near impossible.
"A week before I might trim the fringe shorter like the green would be to get more roll off the greens," Senyk said.
"Number 16, probably our signature one, I put it right on the edge and she’s up on a hill. If you miss the pin, she’ll probably roll three quarters of the way down the hill, at least 20 yards."
He makes sure to play in the event with some of his maintenance crew, and hopes to see it fill up with teams. It’s a shotgun start at noon and costs $200 per team of four, with cash prizes up for grabs at the post-round meal. Plays can register by calling the pro shop at 204-548-3030.
Now for something completely different. Minnedosa Golf and Country Club head pro and general manager Patrick Law stands out over the back nine at his course and his mind starts to wander.
"You can see a lot … of the greens from certain tee boxes and go, ‘Oh, that would be a cool hole to go from here to there," said Law, who made a tournament out of that exact concept.
"There’s endless possibilities to do this … some are straightforward and easy, some you got to get pretty creative with but it’s all part of the fun."
Minnedosa’s final tournament of the year is the cross-country two-player scramble. It’s a 10-hole event scattered all over the property on Sept. 26 for $30 per player, with tee times from noon to 2 p.m., available by calling 204-867-3151.
While the flood prevented some of Law’s hole ideas, he’s quite excited about the layout.
"There’s some that are long. Those are fun for me but not for everybody. You got one from 17 tee to 13 green, which will be 600 yards and trying to bounce between fairways," Law said.
"There’s some fun little short ones too … It’s going to take some planning on a few people’s part to figure out how they can do this or if they can."
All players are entered in a draw for an unlimited membership in 2021.
About those pesky leaves, the ones that make a near-perfect drive turn into a lost ball if it tricks into the rough, I have a few solutions.
The first is to put the long clubs away and see how well you can navigate your home track with just irons and wedges. You’ll likely hit more fairways and get to hit some shots you might have never hit before. (For me, being in the fairway is a unique position in itself.)
To take it a step further, try the "one-club challenge." Pick an iron of your choice, throw a few balls in your pocket and leave the bag behind. You’ll have to get creative, especially around the greens, but it’s a great way to break out of the old routine. Plus, if you jog a bit you might squeeze all 18 holes out of that post-work round before sunset.
Chris Brown at Killarney Lakeside Golf Club is running a similar "revenge" tournament, tentatively set for Sept. 26. In addition, the club is offering $38 all-day golf with cart the rest of the fall, and anyone who spends $50 in the shop gets a free round.
Speaking of fantastic fall rates, a number of courses have dropped prices for the next few weeks as they prepare for the winter. Clear Lake Golf Course is $40 to walk, $50 with a cart or $60 for a full day until closing, except for the upcoming weekend.
Pleasant Valley Golf Club is just $10 to walk nine holes, $20 for 18 or $30 to play an entire day.
Poplar Ridge Golf Course is hosting the Onanole Rec Centre fundraising event on Saturday, with tee times ranging from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It’s a four-player scramble for $80 per player, with proceeds going towards the rec centre’s improvement fund. Call 204-848-2382 to register.
» Twitter: @thomasmfriesen