Forty five years ago the Hope family created a public golf course in what was then a community far from the greater population of the National Capital Region. North Gower may have seemed like a strange place to build a golf course at the time, but before long the urban sprawl of Ottawa would grow closer and closer to Manderley On The Green, bringing with it a steady stream of interested golfers. This south end layout has become a golfing institution for both members and public players alike. And at just ten minutes south from the Hunt Club bridge on Price of Wales Drive, it is even closer for a golf outing than most people think.
Manderley on The Green debuted in 1964. The original eighteen hole configuration at the club was crafted by the notable Howard Watson, a Stanley Thompson associate. During his career Watson would create many fine courses around the world. Since the genesis by Watson, many changes have reshaped the Manderley layout, all with the goal of meeting the needs of the customers.
Manderley on the Green has carved a strong niche for itself in the semi-private club market, on one hand taking care of the needs of members, while on the other dealing with abundant public and tournament play.
Of course, one major factor has attributed to the success of Manderley and that all began with the arrival of Don Ferne as the club’s golf professional in 1976. It started a Ferne family association that extends to today.
Don left Manderley to work at Cedarhill Golf & Country Club but returned permanently in 1983 when he returned to the club, this time in acquisition mode. He, along with his brother Ernie and Ernie’s wife, Jill, own and operate the facility and have been driving forward with constant improvements since day one.
From a 2008 perspective, it is amazing to see the multi-decade transformation at Manderley. In 2003, coinciding with their fortieth anniversary, the club took the biggest step in its history – an expansion from eighteen to twenty-seven holes.
The move to twenty-seven holes greatly increased the business capacity for Manderley. It has opened the tee sheet for both tournaments and member tee-times. Of course any action that involves adding significant improvements to a facility as large as a golf course does take a lot of hard work. The Ferne’s were up to the task.
Don Ferne drew on his 30 years of golf experience as a professional and a player to design the nine new holes. Player friendliness, safety and conformity to the existing golf course were the priority in his design of the new holes that took two and a half years to construct. He wanted golfers to feel at home when they played any of the three nines. To achieve this has stayed close to the philosophy of Howard Watson, the original course designer, during the design and construction phase.
With fifty extra acres of land to work with, thought was given to putting an executive eighteen-hole course into play but that idea was rejected in favour of a full-length nine-hole addition. Manderley on the Green now has two hundred acres to support the twenty-seven holes of golf.
Don told Flagstick upon the new holes opening, “Number two North and number nine Central are the signature holes on the expanded course. Site lines and water add a degree of difficulty to these holes and with the prevailing winds; these holes will test all levels of golfers.” He was bang on with his assessment but as much as test as any of their holes are, people seem to enjoy them.
Golfers will find a wide variety if golf holes at Manderley. They range from open, links-like, tests where long grass waves in the wind and you have a number of strategy options, all the way to hallway like treed fairways that make you think before you swing wildly.
The tremendous range of designs do blend nicely and act to keep your interest in what tests lie ahead for you. Especially when you play the first time.
The arrival of the new holes also ushered in a new era of improved conditioning for the venerable course. The irrigation system was massively expanded and the results were instantaneous. Even during the heat of the summer the course can now remain lush. Along with the irrigation plan (that also included five new massive ponds, resulting in 10 million available gallons of water) the Fernes also invested heavily in their mowing equipment, at a tab of more than $100,000 to improve the grass cutting and course definition.
Other changes that took place with the arrival of the new holes was the relocation of more than three hundred trees to that nine. The parking was also expanded by over fifty percent to accommodate the expected traffic on the course.
Even with the constant improvement, the Fernes, active members of the National Golf Course Owners Association, have not lost sight of what is important – the customer. They have continued to keep the keep the fees at their club reasonable, offering tremendous value to the golf. Green fee rates progress downward as the day goes by, almost hourly.
Those opportunities also extend to the clubhouse, a popular site for both business meetings and weddings. They are acclaimed for their attention to detail and ability to produce popular fare from the kitchen. They have the ability to host groups up to three hundred people. The great food is also available at the “Green House”, the licensed halfway house between nines. For 2008 there is a new pro shop location as well as “Players Lounge” to further your daily golf experience.
With 27 holes the course can accommodate larger tournaments in a timely fashion, as well as handily house golf leagues. The “roominess” is even better for emerging golfers. Rather than be intimidated by a steady pace of golfers over an eighteen hole layout, golf at non-peak times over three nines means a little extra elbow room to enjoy yourself and develop your skills. This year tee times are spread ten minutes apart and paid starters are on hand to keep a steady pace of play a priority.
If that is not enough than you can count on a steady contingent of golf professionals to help you learn the game and improve your skill level. The course is the home to CPGA Professional Warren Grant and his Total Golf School. Warren, the Canadian PGA teacher of the Year in 2001 provides a full slate of learning opportunities.
Heading the on-site staff this year is Greg Chambers, in his first year as the General Manager/Head Professional. He told Flagstick at a recent golf show, “There are a lot of great reasons for people to come out to Manderley this year. We’re close to the city; our rates are reasonable for anything from green fees, to tournament and event packages, to annual passes. We are certainly a great value and we know that is important to today’s golfer.”
Kind of sums it up nicely, don’t you think?
Don & Ernie Ferne
Howard Watson/Don Ferne
Tees / Yardage / Rating / Slope / Par
Blue 3197 Yards
White 3066 Yards
Yellow 2773 Yards
Blue 3249 Yards
White 3108 Yards
Yellow 2730 Yards
Blue 3137 Yards
White 2942 Yards
Yellow 2733 Yards
Average Hole Lengths
Blue Tee: 180 Yards
White Tee: 165 Yards
Yellow Tee: 138 Yards
Blue Tee: 372 Yards
White Tee: 356 Yards
Yellow Tee: 329 Yards
Blue Tee: 527 Yards
White Tee: 503 Yards
Yellow Tee: 455 Yards
Manderley On The Green
5920 Prince of Wales Drive (old Hwy. 16)
North Gower, Ontario
Tel: (613) 489-2092