Greensmere Golf & Country Club

Something for Everyone

Just over a decade ago it was hard to fathom the project that John Green had on his plate.  Just off March Road, between Carp and Almonte, Ontario, Green envisioned a grand 36-hole golf facility.

At the time he had his fair share of critics – after all the National Capital golf market was increasingly saturated with new courses, the nearly 400 acres of land he planned to build on presented plenty of physical and topographical challenges, and in truth, he was not exactly flush with the financial resources to make it all happen.

But the old pro dove in undeterred.  He believed in what he was doing and was set on making it happen. And in time, with a lot of hard work by many, it all began to come alive.

A decade has passed now, and sadly so too has the visionary co-founder, but his aspirations have been fulfilled.  In 2010 Greensmere opened the last of the planned holes and those now guiding it are looking ahead to their first full year without major construction underway.

“There are always improvements to make but it’s nice to finally get it to this state,” says CEO Debra Griffith, a daughter of John Green, who shares ownership of the club with General Superintendent Stephen Richardson and others.

You can see the sense of relief on Debra’s face when asked about what it now means to have the 36 holes available, making it the only semi-private club in the region with that capacity.  “It’s meant different things for different people,” she says during an interview in their roomy clubhouse. “For members obviously they now have two full courses and for tournaments we have a lot of options.  But mostly, it means that the members and green fee players have a choice when it comes to the course they want to play.”

And that is a tough call for any golfer with both courses, “Legacy” and “Premiere” each offering some fine holes, but they do vary in design.  Premiere is the original 18 holes (par 72, 5367 – 6775 yards) while Legacy (par 72, 5375-6843 yards) is the course that came to life last year after many years of development.

Eight-year club Captain spent plenty of time watching the development of the property and gives his take on the club.  “The two courses that we have are pretty different with the Premiere front being fairly wide open and more forgiving although I still have my troubles on it.  The back nine has some nice elevation changes and probably one of the prettiest par 3’s in the area with hole #12.”

The 12th hole actually stands out to a greater degree.  In 2009 it was named the best par three in the region in the Flagstick Reader’s Choice Awards, making it not only one of the best at the club but tops among a list of hundreds in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.

Bower adds, “Legacy is a lot tighter with a number of elevated greens and water on thirteen of the holes.  I love playing either of the courses but Legacy eats me up as I’m not the straightest off the tee.  The finishing holes are just super starting at the Par 3, 15th.  Bower contends that some of the views provided by the Legacy course are the most unique in Ottawa.  “Standing on the Legacy 9th green and looking around and seeing parts of a dozen holes has to be the best view.  In the fall it is so picturesque.”

The greatest attribute for the club is the diversity of the property that ensures varying styles of play.  More than sixty feet of elevation changes creates some striking vistas and shot challenges while hole settings range from wide open to serene, tranquil locales where you feel alone with nature.

That serenity is something that Debra Griffith says is quite remarkable given their location.  “We’re just ten minutes west of Kanata but you can come here and enjoy a place that is naturally beautiful and quiet. A lot of the golfers seem to really enjoy that.”

Director of Golf Tyler MacEachern says golfers are also becoming more dedicated to the courses, either as a member or regular green fee players for additional reasons.  “People are now seeing it how John thought it would be, that really complete 36-hole, top facility in the city that he envisioned.”

The lingering memory after you play at Greensmere is not always the same for all golfers.  Some prefer the testing nature of many holes while others prefer the sheer beauty of others but a common theme usually marks the post-round comments.  During our chat Griffith, MacEachern and Events Coordinator Paula McCann all knew what I was talking about when I brought up the topic.  “The greens,” they almost all exclaimed in unison.

John Green’s vision for the courses centred on having the best bentgrass greens possible.  On my very first visit to the property he told me how few things are remembered more by golfers than the quality of the putting surfaces so a lot of effort was always going to be put into them.

The focus seems to have paid off as the lush greens are a joy to roll the ball across. They are not particularly undulating but they are large, giving you more chances on getting on them in regulation but still having to avoid three putts if you happen to land too far away from the hole.

The membership at Greensmere runs over 300 golfers but they are working to grow that number with an attractive array of categories and pricing.  And if time constraints keep you from taking up membership be assured that that green fees are very reasonable.

But whether you are a member, tournament player, or green fee player you not only get the selection of 36 holes at Greensmere but the access to a huge practice range with a massive bent grass tee.  “I think I’ve seen more than 80 players out there at once,” says MacEachern “You’ll never have trouble finding a spot to practice off the grass.”

And true to the intent of Mr. Green, a man who was very familiar with living in close-knit, smaller communities, that remains a key part of the Greensmere golf experience.  Griffith says they encourage that feeling of “family” around the club knowing that although it is a business it is their connection with the customer that is important.  Whether golfers are juniors new to the game or a seasoned senior player with expert skills (they have a few around the club including highly-decorated Lyle Alexander among the membership) all get the same friendly greeting and treatment.

Now that the courses are complete the growth is not over for Greensmere.  “The lands not growing but we still are,” says Griffith who says they will continue to make improvements, and give people even more reasons to make them their golfing facility of choice.  She politely declines to reveal all their plans but she assures me that they will continue to push ahead and ensure that Greensmere becomes what John envisioned.

“We might not be under construction but we’ll keep on building in different ways,” she says adding that although they already have a lot to offer for every golfer, they’ll always be working to improve each and every year.

That’s exactly how the club got its start and in its tenth anniversary season ahead, they’ll be staying the course.

It’s worked out pretty well for them so far.

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