Fifty Years And Counting
In an economic climate where golf courses are fighting to bring golfers to their doors, one half-century old golf club is looking to their future with enthusiasm. Don Neil, both the General Manager and the Superintendent of the Glengarry Golf & Country Club, smiles when talks about the outlook for the club. “Sure there have been some tough years but we have a lot going for us here that makes us pretty positive about where things are going,” Neil tells me from his office that overlooks the pro shop.
On May 21st the golf club celebrated a half century existence in Glengarry, Ontario, a small eastern Ontario town not far from the Quebec border but with deep Scottish roots. You only have to see the tartan flags on the flagstick on each hole to appreciate the influence of the country where golf was born.
Just as was the tradition in Scotland, it was a group of five locals that founded the Glengarry Golf Club and the respect for that brilliant decision will be honoured this year when they are inducted into the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame in Maxville.
After the course arrived in 1961 it quickly became a hub of the community, just as it is today. Originally a nine hole layout, it was expanded to a full eighteen in 1989 and also received some work by world-class architect Graham Cooke in 1991.
Today you will find a semi-private club that welcomes members and guests and provides a solid design that has a fun mix of holes.
In an area that is relatively flat, the property that Glengarry sits upon is one resplendent with rolling topography, adding a whole new dimension to the layout that has a slope rating of 126. Currently the scorecard lists the course at 6233 yards from the back tee decks but in time that will change. Don Neil says a project to extend eleven tee decks could add as much as 500-600 yards to the course and give them an option for a set of black tees. A re-rating would follow. There is also a possibility of a shorter set of decks than the current red tees to accommodate those golfers who struggle with length.
“We want every golfer who comes here to enjoy themselves and find a course that they will enjoy playing,” says the man who is not short on experience is shaping the look and condition of courses with decades of experience before he arrived at Glengarry a half-decade ago. It shows when you walk the fairways and greens.
Raised green sites, fairways sitting invitingly below you on several holes, and challenging lie situations are all integral parts of golf here, making each trip around the course an intriguing one.
Understandably the club has become a showcase for what a small community can create. “That recognition that we are getting today is a big boost for the community because we have members from as far away as Montreal,” says Neil who adds that they are getting more members from that direction as those areas become more developed. “People like to get out here and enjoy how peaceful it is. This is a course where they can get away from the city and relax.”
Glengarry GC features some picturesque holes.
Also working in the club’s favour is the accessibility from a lot of directions. Located about halfway between the 401 and highway 417, it is an easy drive for people in golf communities all around eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.
And like Neil, many of those people from away are finding that they like the lifestyle in Alexandria and are choosing to make it their home which adds to the golfing potential of the community. In 2012 a housing ban in the area will lift, likely starting a boom of new homes for those that work in Ottawa or Montreal but are seeking a lower cost of living in a smaller community with a complete range of services. As a result Glengarry is working hard to make themselves attract to more families with a strong junior program and affordable pricing.
The Manager also adds that there are also a few other things that attract people to the club. “From the comments we are picking up from people, they are enjoying the quality of the course. A lot of courses today are built in the middle of a housing project where the emphasis is to get the course up quickly and get the houses sold. This place was built to be a golf course; it was designed to be a golf course, stay a golf course, and it always has.”
In playing the Glengarry course golfers find many straightforward holes where areas of trouble come into play on occasion but slightly errant shots will not have you always reaching for a new ball. A recent project saw many of the trees on the course limbed on the lower half of the trunk down to the ground. “It allows you a little better chance of recovery and it also helps us with maintenance.”
It many cases the trouble on the course accents play rather than hinders it.
That rings true even for the Gary and Delisle Rivers that meander through the course but rarely bring your ball into immediate danger.
The front nine provides a gentle opening stanza of holes and a good introduction to the style of golf at Glengarry. Driving areas are ample and birdie opportunities exist for those who can place their golf ball properly on the greens. Many of the putting surfaces have considerable movement that best rewards shots left below the hole. Bunkering is well placed and not to sever as to prevent recovery.
On the back side of the course things heat up a little bit with the arrival of the course own version of Augusta National’s “Amen Corner”. Holes eleven through thirteen serve up a demanding trio of holes that can make or break a round but leave you smiling if you can get through them without too much damage to your score.
The same can be said of the fifteenth hole, affectionately nicknamed “The Monster.” At nearly 470 yards, this uphill par four has a green tucked away in a wooded refuge. Throw in a few bunkers and a slanted fairway near the approach area and this hole serves up all you can handle. Thankfully things get a little softer in the way to the clubhouse with good birdie opportunities on each on the final three holes.
But no club could be a good one with just a course itself, although the staff at Glengarry is clearly focussed on making it the best it can be, as the core of their business. Additional amenities at the course include a practice range and putting green, a full fleet of power and pull carts plus club rentals. The 165 person capacity clubhouse is renowned for its meals and social atmosphere, and everyone who walks through the doors is treated like family.
It’s that sentiment, along with presence of a quality golf that course, that tends to linger with you after you leave Glengarry. You have to believe that was the way the founders wanted it when the doors opened in 1961, and how they would want it to remain as the club looks head to its next half century and beyond.
“The course is fifty years old but I think here, life is beginning at fifty,” states Don Neil. “I can see big thing coming for this course. The infrastructure is all there. We’re well on our way to it now; it’s more positive here than what I have ever seen before. We’ll try to build on to the programs that we already have and be ready for what’s ahead.”
Tees / Yardage / Rating / Slope
Blue (Men) – 6233/ 69.7/ 126
White (Men) – 5961/68.5/123
White (Ladies) – 5961/74.0/131
Red (Men) – 5309/65.2/116
Red (Ladies) – 5309/70.4/114
Average Hole Lengths (Blue Tees)
Par 3’s: 157 Yards
Par 4’s: 364 Yards
Par 5’s: 491 Yards
Glengarry Golf & Country Club
205011 McCormick Road
P.O. Box 400
Tel: (613) 525-2912
Tel: 1-888-499-4653 (GOLF)