The par 4 18th at Brudenell River Golf Course

A full review is coming (sometime), but for now, join me as I play the 18th at Brudenell River Golf Course in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

 

Not the best cinematic experience, but hopefully gives you a bit of a sense of the course.

See you at the turn,

Brewcee

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2016 Flagstick Open Amateur Championships

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logo2A bit of a delayed post, but a few weekends back was Flagstick Open here in Ottawa. Hosted annually over two days at eQuinelle Golf Club ,the event, previously part of the now defunct BMG Cup Series, attracts most of the top players in the region and 2016 was no exception.

2016 marked a new direction for the event as a new partnership was formed with Adidas Golf Canada and Taylormade Golf Canada, replacing Nike Golf as the events main sponsor.

One of the things I like about the event is that they flight it based on the field, not pre set handicap ranges. Which means that depending on the depth of field you could be in different flights each year regardless of whether or not your handicap has changed.

2016 marked my fourth time playing the event. In 2013 I finished 2nd in C flight with scores of 74, 81. In 2014 I finished 2nd in C Flight with scores of 82, 75. In 2015 I struggled in B Flight with scores of 95, 79 and finished 24th. For 2016 I would be playing in B Flight and given that the cut off between A and B was around a 2.5 index, I was going to be in tough with my 6.7.

The previous week I had put together a strong performance at OVGA Intersectionals, posting a 78 at Upper Canada Golf Course (course review to come), so I knew my game was capable of putting up half decent numbers. Round 1 started better than most as I was -1 standing on the 9th tee. A bogey on 9 (a great bogey when you consider I hit my tee shot into a hazard) brought me back to even par. I made some good pars on the back along with 2 bogeys and came to 18th tee at 2 over for the day. Two solid shots on the par 5 set me up with a short pitch and a 5 footer for birdie. The putt dropped and I was home with a 73. As we were only the second group of B Flight on the course I had to wait a while to see where my score would put me on the leaderboard. I sat on top for a while, but in the last few groups there was a 72 and a 68, putting me in third. Still, I would play in the final group on Sunday.

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The par 5 18th at eQuinelle. Photo Credit to eQuinelle Golf Club

I have come into final rounds before with a lead, or a chance to win and played really conservatively or nervously and it didn’t end well. But on Sunday I felt really comfortable and I think it had a bit to do with the fact that the guys in my group were, without a doubt, much better all around players than I was. By freeing myself from thinking I could beat them, it helped me play better, and it gave me a chance.

My Sunday didn’t start as good as my Saturday. I made a crappy bogey on 1, needed a long par save on 2, another long par save on 4, before another bogey on 5. I made a great birdie from a bunker on 6 and came to 9 at 1 over. A bogey on 9 for the second day in a row gave me a 38 on the front. The guy who 72 on day 1 was also 38 on the front, so I was only one behind him. The guy who shot 68 on day one, was 34 on the front, no one was catching him (in B Flight at least).

My back 9 started with a poor bogey on 10, but then I holed out a bunker shot for eagle on the par 5 11th. I gave those strokes back with a double on the long par 3 13th. Pars on 14, 15, 16 had me at 3 over for the day. I poor drive and failed up and down on 17 cost me another strokes, but I bounced back with another birdie on 18 for a 75.

Rounds of 73, 75 for a 148 is my best two day total in competitive play ever, but it still wasn’t enough. I was a mile behind the leader (he would shoot 67 for a 135 total), but only 1 behind second on the 18th tee. On the 18th green, I had a 2 footer for birdie, but he drained a 15 footer for birdie to secure 2nd place. Overall I was T11, while the winner of B Flight was 2nd overall, he lost the overall title by 2 strokes (winner shot 68, 65).

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Adidas Tour 360 Boost

Adidas Golf Canada and Taylormade Golf Canada really stepped up with some great prizing. For 3rd in B Flight I walked away with a pair of Adidas Tour 360 Boost shoes. First place was a Taylormade M1 fairwaywood and 2nd was a Taylormade M1 hybrid.

As always, the crew at Flagstick Golf Magazine did an amazing job putting on the event. The value of this event is really unmatched by any competitive golf I have previously played. Also, the staff at eQuinelle did a great job having the course in top form and providing a great meal on the Saturday night.

Three 2nd place finishes in four years ain’t bad. Pretty sure I am keeping my calendar open for this event next year.

See you at the turn,

Brewcee

 

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Course Review – Club de Golf La Prairie

I have spent a fair bit of time over the last decade on the south shore of Montreal where my in-laws live. I have played a bunch of golf over the years in the area, but only recently did I venture over to  Club de Golf La Prairie , which sits a mere 10 minutes from my in-laws place. I didn’t know much about the course before playing it, had no clue what type of conditions I would find, but the website looked nice, so thought I would check it out.

It turns out Club de Golf La Prairie is a pretty nice facility, really nice actually, althoigh it is the only golf course I have ever played with a parkade and an entrance that looks less like a golf course and more like a shopping centre or the entrance to the downtown of a small town.

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The entrance way to Golf La Prairie

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Park your car and grab a free pull cart in the parkade

 

Originally built in 1964 it went through major renovations between 2002 and 2009 to become the course it is today. I imagine in the 60s and 70s the course was “out in the country” but today its definitely in the city with houses, condos, shopping plazas and a major roadway all close by.

The 18 hole par 72 course plays between 6006 and 6732 yards and features 72 bunkers and water on 16 of 18 holes. It is rated quite hard from the back tees at 72.3/130, and mildly difficult from the middle tees at 70.6/127.

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Getting There

 

Club de Golf La Prairie is conveniently located on the south shore of Montreal in the community of La Prairie, which is essentially directly south of highway 10 just off highway 134, otherwise known as Boulevard Taschereau.

The Clubhouse

I got a very banquet hall mixed with shopping centre feel from the clubhouse, which may be a result of the parkade.

The clubhouse is very modern, with high ceilings and a big foyer and staircase leading to a second floor restaurant. The proshop was very small, almost as if it wasn’t the main reason for the clubhouse.

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The putting green with the clubhouse in the background

The Course

 

I was pleasantly surprised by the course. For whatever reason I wasn’t expecting much, but the layout was very enjoyable and challenging, with a lot of risk reward opportunities, especially from the middle tees. The course wasn’t tight and for the most part you could grip it and rip it, but the risk of water on most holes made you think twice about the wide open fairways. The layout did make for some long walks between holes, but nothing too excessive.

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The opening hole, seemingly wide open, but water on the right, and a green well protected by bunkers. It would become a theme for the day.

Course conditions were impressive. I played in mid June and the course was very lush. The rough was thick, which made hitting fairways a priority. The only complaint I had about the course conditions were the bunkers, which had too much sand and very fluffy, making hitting out of 1 of the 72 bunkers a challenge.

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The par 4 5th

The greens were medium to large in size, relatively flat and in god shape. They rolled true, but the speed was somewhat inconsistent. almost as if some had been cut and others not. With that said, they were very receptive to approach shots, which was good.

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The par 4 3rd green. The #1 handicap hole on the course

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The short par 4 6th, is just about driveable, but watch out for the bunkers. 

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The par 4 8th

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The par 5 9th

The back 9 is shorter and should play easier than the front as there a couple holes that you can hit driver and be left with a wedge into the green. But, there are also a couple of holes that can get you on the back 9, mainly 16 which seems short and harmless, until you get to the green. I hit an uphill putt from the left side that more or less came back at me the green is slow slanted from right to left.

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The par 4 10th

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The par 4 11th is one of the longer par 4’s on the course.

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The par 5 15th. A good tee shot and it can be reachable in two. A bad or just ok tee shot and it can be a risky shot to go for it with water on left and bunkers all around the green area.

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The par 4 16th. The green looks pretty harmless from here. 

The par 3 17th is without a doubt the signature hole of the course. While part of me thinks the condos ruin a great looking hole, another part of me thinks they add a unique element of nature meeting civilization. Regardless of whether you like the visual of the hole, it is a tough golf hole. Downhill, over water, with a bunker right smack in the middle of the bail out area. The green slopes towards the water, so getting it close requires a shot to the right side of the green.

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The par 3 17th

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The 18th is a short par 5, that has a large dogleg that requires a good draw tee shot if you want any chance of going for it in two.

Practice Facility

Club de Golf La Prairie has a really nice practice facility. Not overly large, but big enough and nice and close to the club house.

The practice area consists of a large putting green, a short game area with bunker and a driving range.

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Short Game area with practice bunker

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Driving Range. They have option of mats or grass tees.

Bits and Bites

  •  I think Club de Golf La Prairie really deserves a closer look when we talk about top courses. It is definitely in the underrated category for me, considering I knew nothing about it and had been a regular in the area for a decade.
  • I didn’t have a particularly good day, making a birdie on 18 to shoot 83.
  • I booked the first tee time of the day as a solo, but ended up getting paired up, which was ok. I had asked when I called if I would be able to tee off before the first time of the day, which I was told I could. However, upon arrival I was told I would have to wait for the starter to open the tee for the day. It was a little disappointing to have to wait, but even in a foursome we played in under 4 hours, which was nice.

See you at the turn,

Brewcee

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Slow Play in Competition

A lot has been made over the past few years about slow play and what can be done to make the game quicker. Everything from playing the proper tees (i.e. tee it forward), to promoting the idea of 9 hole rounds as opposed to 18 has been presented in one form or another. Most of the attention paid to slow play has been directed at recreational players or at least those not playing in formal competitions. No one wants a Sunday afternoon round with your buddies to take more than 4 hours, but at the same time, few blink at tournament rounds taking 5. With that said, slow play is an issue in competitive golf, and I am not just talking about the PGA Tour, where a 6 – 7 hour round is the norm (and is ridiculous).

Let’s take a look at what the rules say:

Rule 6-7. Undue Delay; Slow Play

The player must play without undue delay and in accordance with any pace of play guidelines that the Committee may establish. Between completion of a hole and playing from the next teeing ground, the player must not unduly delay play.

Note 2: For the purpose of preventing slow play, the Committee may, in the conditions of a competition (Rule 33-1), establish pace of play guidelines including maximum periods of time allowed to complete a stipulated round, a hole or a stroke. In match play, the Committee may, in such a condition, modify the penalty for a breach of this Rule as follows: First offence – Loss of hole; Second offence – Loss of hole; For subsequent offence – Disqualification. In stroke play, the Committee may, in such a condition, modify the penalty for a breach of this Rule as follows: First offence – One stroke; Second offence – Two strokes; For subsequent offence – Disqualification.

Rule 33 – 1 says that the Committee must establish the conditions under which a competition is to be played.

Ottawa Valley Golf Association (OVGA) – Pace of Play Policy

For all events run under the jurisdiction of the OVGA, a pace of play policy dictates guidelines the committee has established, under Rule 33- 1 and 6-7.

The policy states that the time for finishing at the 18th hole (flagstick in the hole) is listed on your official scorecard. The first group must complete play by the listed time. Subsequent groups must complete play by the listed time or be within 14 minutes of the group ahead to avoid penalty. This is called a Group Pace of Play policy.

The penalty has been set at 1 stroke, adding to the score on the 18th hole.

The time allowed (in my experience) is normally right around 4 hours and 30 minutes.

While I am not a slow player by any stretch of the imagination, I seem to often find myself in slow groups during competitive rounds, and there isn’t really anything I can do about, except encourage my fellow competitors to keep pace and keep pace myself.

A couple years back I was in a group that was put on the clock, it was a non OVGA event using a different local rule and a couple weeks back I was in a group that was assessed a stroke penalty after finishing our round 25 minutes behind the group in front out us. We appealed the penalty and ultimately won the appeal (the stroke was removed).

When we had our appeal, one of the committee members said that poor play was not an excuse for missing the required pace time. However, poor play  is precisely the reason why many groups fall behind. There is a big difference between keeping pace during that Sunday afternoon buddy round and the Sunday tournament round. With my buddies, when I snap hook my drive on 3 into the trees, I have a few options, I can 1. hit a provisional and play the hole out as the rules state, 2. If agreed to, play it as red staked and drop where ball went in (and take an X for handicap purposes) or 3. Take a mulligan (and an X for handicap) or 4. Take an X and walk the hole without playing. Depending on how the pace is going during the day (how far behind we are from group in front) one may institute any of the options.  In a tournament, I have but one choice, hit a provisional. And, when I push that provisional into the trees down the right, I have one other choice, hit another provisional. My only option is to play the hole out as the rules indicate, or withdrawal from the tournament. I am not saying I disagree with the rules, I don’t. What I am saying is that the reason for slow play in local and regional amateur tournaments is generally not a result of the individuals playing slowly, but rather a result of the individuals playing poorly.

I am an advocate of speeding up play, both for recreational rounds as well as competitive rounds. When it comes to competitive rounds I don’t believe a player doing their best to play well and keep pace, should be penalized for poor play, given that playing poorly is penalty enough in my mind. Also, I don’t think a player should be penalized for something they have little to no control over, which is the pace of their playing partners and or the quality of play of their partners. I don’t have a solution and maybe the group pace of play policy is as good as it gets, but I hope not.

See you at turn,

Brewcee

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2016 OVGA City & District

rsz_qs-pdab8This past weekend the Ottawa Valley Golf Association hosted its annual City & District Championships in Arnprior, ON at the Sand Point Golf Course. Traditionally, the event has been hosted mid week in August, but they tried to shake things up this year with a June date on a weekend. Additionally, they hosted the A Class, B Class and Ladies all together.

The A Class field was set at 64 of the regions top players. While there were some absent names (which is how I got into the field), most of the notable players from the region were in attendance. For the A Class, the event consisted of two days of stroke play at Sand Point, followed by a cut to the lowest 24 and ties, who would play the final round at Rivermead Golf Club on the Monday.

2016 marked my fourth time playing in the event. I finished 3rd overall in the B Class in 2008 and 5th overall in the B Class in 2009. In 2014 I missed the cut in the A Class (T52 /70). For 2016, my goal was to make the cut, which I knew was going to be hard, given the state of my game and the competition.

I wasn’t thrilled about the golf course selection, given it was over an hour from the east end of Ottawa where I live, the Sand Point isn’t exactly one of the regions top courses. But I made the best of it by bringing Mary and Simon along for the weekend, instead of driving back and forth each day (if you have never spent much time in Arnprior its a pretty little town, but most of it is under construction right now). All in all the course was ok in the end. Conditions were firm, but the greens received shots ok (at least on Day 1). My only big complaint was the lack of sand in the bunkers, which made bunker shots rather risky.

Day 1 started rough for me and didn’t get much better for the front 9. I hit my opening tee shot OB, doubled 1 and 3 and tripled 4, but birdied 2 and 9 for a 7 over 42 (par 35). The back 9, to my surprise, and likely my playing partners, went much better, minus a mental error on 18 that turned a bad tee shot into a bad choice into a double. I came home in 3 over 38 (par 35), for an 80 (par 70) on Day 1, putting me in T37. I have to make up ground on day 2, which I thought I could do.

I didn’t hit my opening tee shot OB on day 2, but I didn’t open with a string of bogeys, followed by a triple on 3 (I played the 185 yard par 3 5 over over 2 days!). No birdies on the front 9 and I was 9 over 44 through 9. The back 9 wasn’t great either, a double on the short par 3 11th and no birdies lead to a 6 over 41, 85 total. 2 Day total of 165 was good enough for T47/64.

The crazy thing is I hit the ball much more consistent on Day 2, but had a few good bounces and the putts dropped on Day 1. Day 1 should have been a 78 or 79, day 2 likely could have been a 80 or 81 had a few shots gone my way. Even those numbers wouldn’t have been good enough to make the cut, as in the end 156 was needed to move onto round 3.

The most interesting aspect of the event for me was that coming off 18 on day 2 my group was notified that we missed our time and were assessed a stroke penalty. Having just shot 85 I didn’t really care, but the guys I was playing with insisted on appealing the decision. The agreed upon facts were that we missed our time by 9 minutes and were 24 minutes behind the group in front of us. Our argument was that we were right behind the group in front of us until 16, where one of our players got into trouble. By the time we putted out on 16, the group in front was finishing 18. The appeal committee took into consideration that it was very hot out (about 40 with humidity), so our ability to hustle was limited. Also, the group in front of us were in carts, while we were walking, so our ability to catch up to them (the 17 was a par 3 and the 18 a short par 4) was also limited. In the end we won the appeal, which I was surprised, yet grateful of. I must say that the OVGA handled the entire situation very professionally, regardless of the outcome. I am going to give a little more thought to the whole notion of slow play penalties in competitions and put a post together.

Despite my play, it was a decent weekend. The OVGA put on a great event. This years championship was probably the best run of the 4 I have played in and I look forward to seeing them continue to raise the bar with the event in the coming years.

My next event will be the OVGA Intersectionals where I will be representing Metcalfe Golf for the 8th time in 9 years at the event (missed last year due to a work commitment). That event happens July 10th at Upper Canada Golf Course.  

See you at the turn,

Brewcee

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