On Tuesday, July 17, I had the privilege of joining 100 to play in the Canadian Golf Media Championship in Ancaster, Ontario, at Heron Point Golf Links.
The event, hosted by Clublink, has existed for 10 years and is played across the GTA year-to-year at many of Clublink’s finest courses.
This year was no exception, as the challenging Heron Point was in immaculate condition.
I was slightly nervous for the day, as I knew a handful of my journalism idols were invited, but I knew in the grand scheme of things, it was just another round of golf.
My nerves showed on the opening drive of the day, though, and no, not my first tee-shot, but when I pulled into the driveway of the club, a bag attendant asked me to pop open the trunk to grab my clubs. Unfortunately, I was driving a new car (not even my own) and had no idea where the “open trunk” button was.
With a lineup of cars behind me, I had to get out and manually open it up for the gentleman who, certainly at this point, thought I must have been trying to sneak into the event.
Luckily all was forgotten – hopefully, at least – as I peeled away to park and quickly set up.
After a filling breakfast and quick conversation, I headed to the practice green to warm up. The guy who greeted me and took my clubs (in between chuckles, I’m sure) mentioned if I had never played the course before, I should head to practice my putting.
I was thankful for the tip, as Heron Point featured what felt like no flat putting surfaces. It didn’t help that the pin positions were in “tournament” placement – tucked behind bunkers, on the cusp of ridges, etc. – and although the course tested all aspects of one’s game, it was the greens that proved most difficult.
Before I knew it, it was time to tee-off. One hundred people making up 25 foursomes headed out to the course to a shotgun start just after 9 a.m., and off we went. I was paired with a great group of three photographers from the Toronto Sun and Thompson-Reuters. All three had nearly 30 years in the business, and I sensed they had been everywhere. A quick online search when I got home proved correct, as they were all award-winning photo journalists with many ‘featured’ photos I had actually recognized.
Having a journalism degree proved to be an interesting topic of conversation, as the guys were intrigued to hear what I thought about modern journalism, and what is being taught in journalism school these days. Although we shared a similar thought with respect to how anyone these days can be a ‘writer’ or a ‘photographer’ thanks to Twitter, Instagram, point-and-shoot cameras, and the Internet, it still takes a certain kind of person to be a storyteller – no matter the medium.
Despite my high score nearly matching the temperature outside – had it been measured in Fahrenheit – the grounds crew and the rest of the staff from the Thomas McBroom-designed gem should be thrilled with how their course has handled the near-drought conditions in southern Ontario this summer. Even McBroom himself, who was also in attendance, commented on how great of shape the course was in.
The tight fairways, long rough, and shot-making demands the course put on me were just not what I was ready for, however, I still hit a handful of good shots and enjoyed the challenge.
The closing hole of Heron Point is undoubtedly the crown jewel of the course. The tee-shot calls for a drive over a large creek, created as a run-off from nearby Dunmark Lake, to a tight landing area. From there, your second is a blind uphill shot to a small green: a masterful closing hole that will certainly give the pros that are playing in the Monday qualifier at Heron Point for next week’s RBC Canadian Open fits.
Once the round was completed, the very warm and mostly sunburned group – it was later said that Tuesday was the hottest day on record in the Hamilton area – headed inside the multi-level clubhouse to “cool” down.
I would soon find the only cool thing in there was beer, as the air conditioner was broken.
This seemed to appease the group just fine, though.
Having never attended a golf media event before, it was fascinating to meet the faces behind the voices I’ve followed on television and radio for so long.
I was most thrilled to have met Lorne Rubenstein, the author and Globe and Mail columnist who sat right beside me at the table I was at. We had a wonderful chat and as he introduced himself, I told myself, “of course I know who you are!”
Despite the ever-building tension in the journalism industry these days, not to mention the strain on “luxury” activities, like golf, in today’s economy, it was a pleasure to go to an event where nothing seemed to matter except for camaraderie and common enjoyment for a game we all love.
Sure beat a day in the office.