This past weekend my wife and I headed south (well south west), to spend Thanksgiving weekend with my parents in St.Thomas Ontario, just south of London.
In addition to it being Thanksgiving it was also my birthday and with some great fall weather foretasted I didn’t miss the opportunity to throw my clubs in the car for the trip.
London and surrounding area is blessed with many great golf courses and an equal number of cheap, short courses. The plan for the weekend was to play 3 rounds over 2 days, 2 rounds on great courses, and 1 on a not so great course.
After the long 7 hour drive from Ottawa on Friday night Saturday morning came early. My dad and I took the short drive from home to a relatively new course (10 years or so old) in Port Stanley Ontario. Kettle Creek Golf & Country Club isn’t going to win any awards, but it is a fun par 67 course with some challenges and is normally not all that badly maintained. On this particular occasion the course was not in great shape. It looked to have been a few weeks since the rough got a good cut and the back 9 greens were in rough shape having been top dressed recently. The back 9 greens made putting practically impossible, and I wasn’t hitting the ball all that consistent off the tee. I made it around in 77. Regardless, my dad and I had had an enjoyable 2 hour round and I was home for breakfast.
On Saturday afternoon my good friend Chris and I took the short drive to St.Thomas Golf & Country Club.
Growing up, the only things I knew about St.Thomas G&CC (or Union as it was commonly known) was that it was private and that my chances to play it would be few and far between. After moving away from St.Thomas and continuing to play the majority of my golf at public facilities I didn’t give much thought to the course, but in 2012 Score Golf ranked it as the 50th best course in Canada, and my interest was once again peaked. It turns out St.Thomas G&CC isn’t “super” exclusive and it is possible to get your hands on passes to access the course without having play with a member, which is how Chris and I found ourselves with a Tee Time on Saturday afternoon.
Considering it was October, the course was in great shape. I had previously played the course no more than twice in my teens and I remembered very little of it. The course is not long, it is not rated hard, it doesn’t provide you amazing scenery, it doesn’t have a great club house, but it is a great golf course. A shot makers course, that calls for perfect tee shots, precise club selections on approach shots, and the mental game to know when to go for it and when to play it safe. There is an element of elevation change on almost every shot you hit even though the course is built in a region of relatively flat land. The real kicker are the greens. They are fast, small and undulating. I doubt I had a straight putt all day, and learned the hard way on a couple greens where it was not ok to be above the hole. There were times during the round were I felt I had it all figured out, other times not so much. I walked off 18 with a 83, that could have been a 79, except for a few costly mistakes and the fact my green side game is in shambles.
If I had to describe St.Thomas Golf & Country Club in one word it would be unassuming. It would be easy to dismiss the course as not long enough, or not hard enough or needing a new club house (which it does), or lacking of anything truly outstanding, but by doing that you would miss a great technical golf course that requires faultless execution of every shot in the bag through 18 holes.
My third round was suppose to be at the fantastic, and probably my favorite, course, Tarandowah Golfers Club, but heavy rain put an end to that Sunday morning treat.
It may be that my Saturday afternoon at St.Thomas Golf & Country Club will be the last round of golf I play in 2013. Hopefully not, but it wouldn’t be a bad way to end the year.
See you at the turn.