Until recently there was an unlikely gap in my life. Although born in a hospital next to the Trenton Golf Club and having played the game my whole life, I had yet to set foot on their golf course with a golf bag on my back. I’d always joked that the proximity of where I came into the world likely lead me down the path of being obsessed with the sport. Apparently I am not alone. Many of them have more tangible connections to the golf course, something you might expect from a place that has existed since the 1920’s.
Now operating in its tenth decade the Trenton Golf Club is a golf course has influenced a lot of lives. This simple nine hole course has spawned many a love affair with the game. It continues to do so today.
Originally built on the site of a farm on the edges of Trenton, the 38 acres was eventually surrounded by the town, giving it a convenience that many enjoyed. Among them was Rob Couture. Couture, the winner of the 2011 Canadian Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship, provides a shining example of how the modest golf course gave him his start in the game.
“I could walk over to Trenton from my house or ride my bike over there, I started doing that when I was probably 11 which would have been ’86 or ’87. During the season we would play that nine holes over and over, probably 5 or 6 times some days in the summer.”
Couture’s tale is not an uncommon one, Alan Weese, a long-time serving President of the Club, used to make the bike trip over to the course regularly himself. Today Weese is the General Manager of the course, a place he is rightfully proud of as an integral part of the community.
Weese shares that the origins of the course came when a farmer, believed to be a Mr. McAuley (a nearby street still carries his name), decided to start a golf course on a part of his property. Golf was a hot commodity in the decade after the First World War and the place began to flourish.
The course eventually changed hands to what is believed to be a number of members and in 1978 a group of 46 shareholders invested $500 a share and became the ownership group. They remain in control of the business today. A seven person board oversees the club which continues to remain modestly in the black each year.
Weese admits that through the years there has been interest by developers in the property but the rambling nature of the land, with regular and dramatic fluctuations in elevations, would challenge any builder. One deal to sell was reached in 1991 but it fell through due to the sagging economy of the time. Since then the club has soldiered on, relying on a revenue stream provided by an equal base of memberships and green free players.
Affordable fees make the club a popular spot for families, seniors, and beginning golfers but those who have played the course know it often exceeds the expectations of those who fork over $15 for a loop around nine holes.
At just over 2800 yards and playing to a par of 34 from the longest of four tee decks (shorter gold tees at 1957 yards were recently added) most golfers will underestimate the course. It is far more resistant to scoring than one would imagine. For ages the official course record stood at five under par, 63. It was broken last year by former Trentonian and now Mackenzie Tour winner Brad Clapp with a 62.
You begin to see why once you stand on the first tee and see the green of the 207-yard, par three, perched some forty feet up on a hillside. As Rob Couture shared from his current home in Texas. “#1 was a bear of a par 3, a hard starting hole and frustrating because I could barely reach the green up the hill and almost always started with a bogey!”
The theme continues for much of the course where uneven lies are the biggest enemy, and, coupled with small green surfaces, your short game is put to a steady test.
“It’s not an easy course to score on but it’s still a lot of fun,” asserts Weese who points to the hilly property as the reason they are open early in the season and host play that continues long into the fall. “We dry well; we’ve got a sand base and even after heavy rains we’re good to go right away. Being near the pinnacle of the town also enhances a visit by a affording great views of local landmarks like the Murray Hills, Mount Pelion and the Trent River.
A mix of three par threes, five par fives, and one long par five, Trenton Golf Club keeps you interested no matter your ability. Holes like the par 4, 7th hole, at just 301 yards is a great example. Big hitters may think they can reach the green but the minuscule surface deflects all but the perfect shot. It takes a few loops to build a strategy of how to optimally get around the property in the least number of strokes and even then the best laid plans often get waylaid.
The 9th hole, at 540 yards, is frequently the culprit. Weese says many times players will have a good round going then give it all away on the longest hole they have. Out of bounds right, a tree line left, and a fairway that rises and falls like the back of the Lochness monster will give any golfer all they can handle.
Spend some time around the 72 seat clubhouse (they also have a deck for 24 more) and you’ll learn quickly that the Trenton Golf Club serves a diverse clientele. A major attraction is the humble and social atmosphere.
“Part of what we pride ourselves on is that we cater to everyone,” says the Manager with all sincerity. “Whether you’re a starting golfer or an established golfer you’re never going to feel intimidated walking in here. You’re going to feel welcome.”
It’s a great philosophy and with a golf course marked by the intriguing subtleties that only maturity provides, a convenient location, and prices that any golfer can afford, it seems that the Trenton Golf Club has a formula that could help them carry on for another 90 years.
- Scott MacLeod, FGM Editor/Associate Publisher
Golf Course Superintendent
Back: 2833 Yards (Par 34), 65.2, 107
Middle: 2756 Yards (Par 34), 64.4, 105
Forward: 2508 Yards (Par 35), 68.3, 105
Gold: 1957 Yards (Par 36)
Average Hole Lengths (Blue Tees)
Par 3’s – 185 Yards
Par 4’s – 341 Yards
Par 5’s – 540 Yards
Trenton Golf Club
292 King Street