– 60 Ares of Happiness –
Located 2.9 kilometers south of Highway 17 at 1848 B-Line Road in Pembroke, Ontario, the Indian River Golf Course is a short 9-hole course laid out on 60 acres of an old farmstead property called Fairways Farm.
The history of the golf course traces back to the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when Dr. Gordon Hermite purchased the property and located his medical practice in the lower level of the house he and his wife Beth had built as their family residence. In his spare time, Dr. Hermite built some rudimentary golf holes for his and neighbouring children to play.
Originally from Scotland, he continued to build more holes in the links style that he was all too familiar with from his childhood days. As with most successful golf course layouts, Dr. Hermite used what Mother Nature had given him and sculpted a distinctive and demanding layout. His Fairways Golf Course opened for play in 1982 and was well received by local golfers.
With Dr. Hermite retiring from his medical practice in the mid 1980’s and moving on, the Fairways Golf Course was available and a potential buyer was living in Ottawa.
In the mid 1980’s in Ottawa, Arthur Ross was set to retire from his horticulture job along with his wife Muriel, who worked in the Federal Government. Arthur had always dreamed of owning and operating a golf course. He did have a history in the golf industry as he had built his first course in his family’s back yard in Regina at the tender age of nine.
The Ross Family purchased the golf course from Dr. Hermitee in 1986. Mr. Ross now had his golf course and the commitment and desire to build the product and the rest is history. In 1998, Arthur and his wife Muriel sold the course to their son Ron and his first order of business was to change the name to the Indian River Golf Course.
According to Terry MacDonald, “Arthur did not retire as much as semi-retire. He was quite healthy and really wanted to see the golf course stay in the Ross family. He continued to play golf every day and continued to provide assistance, especially to me, as a part time, on demand grounds crew member. In the spring and fall he would always show up in his coveralls and warm coat, first thing in the morning, and would help with mowing or aerating, top dressing or anything that I needed. He was able to do very physical work for many years. As I said to you, he loved the business and the people.”
Don’t let the course length of 2499 yards deceive you, for the course is full of risk-reward opportunities. It’s an easy walk, but power carts are available. The greens measure between 3,000 and 5,300 square feet and their subtle undulations require a keen eye for golfers putting on them.
A quick tour of the Indian River Golf Course begins on the 265 yard – 1st hole where a reasonable tee shot leaves a short shot to the crowned green over a drainage area filled with bullrushes and shrubs. Golfers should favor the right side of the 320 yard – second hole with both their tee and approach shots as a substantial pond awaits errant shots to the left of the green. Holes 3 and 4 are straightaway par fours measuring 252 and 243 yards respectfully with danger in abundance to the left of each fairway. You would think that a par three measuring 100/113 yards wouldn’t present much of a problem. Step up to either tee on the par-3, fifth-hole and if the trees and shrubs in the gulley haven’t been pruned recently, then you could be facing a blind shot requiring elevation to the green. An upgrade to this hole is currently in the planning stages. The par 4, dog-leg left, 351-yard, sixth-hole is considered the toughest hole on the layout with a large rock strategically located in the centre of the fairway approximately 165 yards from the tee. A large water hazard comes into play on the right side of the dog-leg and trees come into play down the left side. After hitting approach shots to the green, golfers can signal the following group to tee off by ringing bells located on either side of the fairway which is hidden from view off the tee. If someone has forgotten to ring one of the bells, a triangle with an attached iron bar is located nearer the green providing another opportunity to signal the group on the tee.
A lengthy tee shot is required on the par 4, 315-yard 7th-hole as the green is tucked away on the left side of the hole. Three full-growth trees located on the left corner of the fairway provide enough of an obstacle to thwart approach shots to the green. Trees come into play on both sides of the par 3; 163-yard eighth hole and tee shots launched over the green will likely find a home out of bounds. The home hole on the Indian River Golf Course parallels the entrance road into the course from the B-Line Road. Tee shots hit left and over the road will require a provisional shot to be played off the tee. Measuring 477 yards, care has to be taken with tee and approach shots and a closing birdie is sought after on the only par-5 hole on the course.
Whether you play 9 or 18 holes while visiting the Indian River Golf Course, golfers must take care to concentrate on each and every shot during their round of golf. Long-ball hitters will have to be precise with their shots as danger lurks throughout the course.
Finish off your day with a beverage in the quaint clubhouse or on the covered side patio while you talk about your game and what could have been. You might even want to make use of the horseshoe pits located next to the outdoor patio.
Unique to the Indian River Golf Club is the extra tee located between the maintenance building and the 2nd green used to break ties in club tournaments. A wedge shot across the irrigation pond to the second green has caused both grief and excitement for golfers involved in Indian River’s distinctive sudden-win extra hole.
A visit to the Indian River Golf Course is rewarded not only with a game of golf, but also to see the fruition of the dreams of both Dr. Gordon Hermitee and Arthur Ross. Ron Ross and his team have carried on the tradition set by both men who have passed on.
It’s worth a visit to the Indian River Golf Course for an enjoyable and distinctive golfing experience.
Golf Course Superintendent
Red – 2250
White – 2499
Course Rating – 64.3
Slope Rating – 100
Average Hole Lengths (Red/White)
Par 3’s (2): 123 / 138
Par 4’s (6): 265 / 291
Par 5’s (1): 418 / 477
Indian River Golf Course
1848 B-Line Road, RR 7
Pembroke, Ontario, K8A 6W8