Flagstick Shootout – A Fan’s Perspective

This past weekend was the fourth annual Flagstick Golf Magazine Amateur Shootout, a premier amateur golf event held at Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course in Ganaoque, Ontario.

The tournament moved to a fully invitational format this year after being a relatively open event for the past few seasons. After trimming the applicants from over 130 to 90, the field was set and organized into three flights of players.

No. 3 at Smuggler’s Glen

There was a buzz in the air for this edition as a new incentive was added to the already-generous prizing. An exemption into the new Canadian Tour event The Great Waterway Classic – set to also be played at Smuggler’s Glen during the week of September 3, 2012 – would also be awarded to the winner.

I was invited to attend by Scott Macleod, Editorial Director of Flagstick Magazine and one of the smartest guys in the business I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with. I also invited my girlfriend, Steph, to come along for the weekend as well.

Golfers had the option to stay across the road for the weekend at the Glen House Resort & Spa (I add in the ‘spa’ part as this was a great selling factor for me to get Steph to come along). The Glen House is a quaint, 75-room resort that has been on the shores of the St. Lawrence for 100 years. It features regular rooms, suites and cottages, along with two pools, tennis courts, beach volleyball, boat rentals, and a first-class restaurant.

Smuggler’s Glen was nominated as The Best New Course in Canada by Golf Digest in 2006.  Despite the copious rounds played through a season, golf course superintendent Jason Boyce keeps the course in pristine condition and Doug Wark – a 1000 Islands Native – keeps things running smoothly as the Director of Golf Operations.

After arriving at the course, there was a palpable buzz in the air as the first groups came through their front-9. The weather was excellent – perhaps a result of everyone’s’ collective wish that the weatherman would be wrong in his prediction for a thunderstorm-filled weekend. I was lucky enough to finally meet Jeff Bauder, the publisher of Flagstick Magazine, along with Wark, who said the course had hosted five events in six days. He had prepped the fairways and greens the day before and the morning-of the tournament in order to get ready to host the premier amateur tournament in the region.

From there began my tour of the course, riding shotgun in a cart with Scott – touring around the tournament-specific layout of Smuggler’s Glen. A slight variation of the traditional layout, which saw a re-order of the first couple holes in order to ease the golfers into the challenge.

We posted up for a long while on the tee of no.12, where he introduced me to many of the players and, unfortunately, saw many stripe their drives down the middle only to have their shot gobbled up by a bunker, strategically sitting about 295 yards from the tee.

The leader after day one was 19-year-old Clayton Presant, a Kingston native who recently signed with Limestone College in South Carolina to play golf. He shot a sizzling 68 for a 4-under total, and a three-stroke lead over four other golfers, including defending champion Dwight Reinheart.

Looking up and down the leaderboard after the first day seemed like a who’s who of Eastern Ontario golf, which essentially, should be what the leaderboard of a premier event looks like.

The second and final day included a re-shuffle of players according to their scores on the first day. However, the leader stayed the same with Presant keeping his lead through the day, eventually finishing with a two-day total of 140, or 4-under. He ended up being two shots clear of runner-up Sean Lackey, who, thanks to Presant’s school commitments, would be the one to take the exemption for The Great Waterway Classic in September.

The weekend wasn’t all about golf though, as a dinner hosted at The Glen House provided for much camaraderie. Apparently The Glen House is famous for their prime rib. Not kidding. Literally the largest cuts of prime rib I have ever seen in my life, and according to the others at our table who managed to actually complete it, not a dish to be missed.

For me personally, it was a great opportunity to put many faces to Twitter handles. Having followed many of the guys in the tournament for a while, it must have been funny to see more than a handful of semi-awkward pointing and introductions, despite knowing a lot about each other already. Hearing about each of their experiences through the day was great, but a common theme was how impressed everyone was with both the golf course and the tournament set up.

I was particularly happy to have met Mike Doyon, the regional manager for Nike Golf Canada. From what I understand, Mike worked tirelessly to get a great set of swag together for all the competitors and acts as the main point-of-contact for Nike for many of the golfers in the region.

Overall, the two-day event could not have turned out better. The weather held off for the competitors and a new, young champion was crowned. The resort was also a great place for golfers and non-golfers alike.

With the Ottawa Citizen dropping their sponsorship of the Ottawa Citizen Amateur after 11 years, it appears that the Flagstick Shootout will take its place as the top amateur tournament in the Ottawa Valley. And next year, the Flagstick Shootout looks to celebrate its fifth anniversary in style with arguably the most anticipated event in its short history.

I’m already looking forward to it.

The Little Golf Course That Could

Originally posted May 26th/2011 –  http://www.flagstick.com/editorsdesk/?p=1845

***************************************************

This past weekend I took my girlfriend golfing for the first time. It was… many things: interesting for sure, bug-infested, a little wet, but a lot of fun.

Outfitted in a turquoise polo shirt (“Because it’s the colour of Tiffany’s!”) a matching FootJoy glove, and a Titleist hat (“I like this Adam Scott guy”), she was ready to hit the links.

And I knew the perfect course.

Located in Clarendon,Ontario(approximate population: 1000, off Highway 7 near Sharbot Lake), there is a 1,100-yard track called Canadian Shield Executive Golf Club.

Dug out of theforestofTumblehome Lodge(formally called “Tumblehome Lodge Golf Club”) this little piece of golfing heaven is the one place in the world that has arguably seen every level of the game played on it.

There are nine holes, each of them a par-3 ranging from 73 yards to 120. The course record is even-par, 27. There is no dress code. There are no tee boxes. The greens are longer than most fairways.

But there are memories.

I played my first-ever round of golf here, at the age of 11. After a summer of batting around a wiffle ball with my grandad’s oldWilson8-iron, I was finally ready to play.

I took my borrowed set of women’s clubs (persimmon driver and everything) and off my grandad and I went.

Somehow, we made it around the little layout unscathed.

Twice.

Not only did I have my grandad get a cart, but I made him play 18. He didn’t complain and I still proudly hang that scorecard in my bedroom – the best ‘100’ I ever shot.

I studied that scorecard for months, just itching to get back out there and try again. I labeled each hole with what club I should to hit off the tee and analyzed where I should be hitting the ball on the little illustrated drawings of each hole.

We would always return to Canadian Shield each summer, and despite how good I got at the game, going back there to play was just as fun each time. .

The course has had its share of ups and downs; the land was even put up for auction in 2007. Thankfully, someone bought it and kept it as-is, save for the previously mentioned name change.

The course no longer has an official website, and when you read about it on the “Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington Community Resources Database” it’s described as being “located in the middle of the woods.”

Seems pretty accurate actually – I tried checking-in on Foursquare to the course this weekend and it didn’t show up on the “places nearby,” but, “Middle Of Nowhere” did.

It’s always hard to return ‘up country’ and find how cheap a round of golf is, especially being a city boy through and through (born and raised in the heart ofToronto). Canadian Shield Executive is no different.

Maybe the $15 price tag for nine holes seems a little steep at first glance, but how about the $25 to “play all day?” It was a new special added this year.

Would I have done it, had I the time?

Of course I would.

My girlfriend and I were the only ones on the course that Sunday, but only in the physical sense.

As we walked the same route I had walked every summer for the past 11 years, we were accompanied by all of those old memories of mine.

It’s one of those places where despite the bugs, the remote location, and the Astroturf tee-boxes there is still something that makes you want to come back again.

I’m already looking forward to it.

Some new stuff

Been a while since  I’ve been able to toss anything up on the Blog. But that’s not to say I haven’t been writing.

Since my last post I was thrilled to have connected once again with my friend Scott Macleod, the managing editor of Flagstick Golf Magazine. A regional publication in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. They’ve been really building up their online presence in the past few years as well and I’ll be adding my thoughts on occasion.

Look for mostly club reviews to come up, but I’ll also be posting a few pieces on the world of golf. I’ll also include the posts in their original format here, along with links to the Flagstick pages.

Enjoy…