G4G mailbag: Lovers of Muskoka Bay and the Ryder Cup unite!

Though I spent a week in Scotland reinforcing why Scottish links golf is superior to what we have in North America, readers continue to log into G4G and voice their opinions. Power to the people. Of course I don’t believe in that at all, but let’s start another segment of G4G mailbag:

Let’s start with John, who made the journey to Seguin Valley and liked what he saw. Of course, my review was less than glowing…

John Says: I couldn’t disagree more with this analysis of this beautiful golf course. I played all three in the area (Deer Run-a joke), Parry Sound (tired, oversanded and over watered with too many old men taking too many practice shots) and found Sequin to be the very best. A hundred bucks INCLUDES a cart, so it is not extra on top of that. The electric cart was a real nice quiet plus also.

Well I’m glad the cart enhanced your experience. Please continue…

The seventh hole Thompson is talking about is only 162 over the water from the whites, 167 from the Blues, so unless you think your Tiger playing from the Blacks- then you’ll be hitting 214 over the water. Plus, his yardages are inaccurate, the front plays 3646 and the back plays 3189…not 3800 and 3000 quoted in his article. I liked the rides between holes, it gave me a chance to relax, enjoy the scenery, and my game.

Long cart rides are really what golf is all about. And I’m sorry — apparently there’s only a 500 yard difference between the back and front nine. I stand corrected. Next.

On the same subject, Stephen Says:

Thompson wants the course to himself.

Right. That’s why I’ve been back so frequently.

If you play this course at a higher slope than you’re accustomed to, and you’re not playing well, the course will beat the crap out of you and you’ll be back here giving it a bad rap.

Actually I don’t even recall how I played. But I don’t judge a course on my game. I’ve never played well at Carnoustie, for example, but have the utmost respect for its amazing design. I guess that I’m not the only one who holds this opinion, since Seguin Valley has been up for sale for more than a year without any takers.

On my review of the much vaunted Muskoka Bay Club, of which Ian Andrew and I had a heated debate about in Nairn over a Creme Brule, Steven D said:

This was one of the most brilliantly designed courses i have ever played. I have played The ridge at mantiou, ST. Georges(st. G’s was 10x better) but it has a great layout and makes an enjoyable round.

You are right. Muskoka Bay is a good golf course and St. George’s is superior. Reader Andrew D loved the place as well:

This could be one of the most spectacular golf courses I have ever stepped foot on! I’ve played Bigwin, Taboo, Lake Joe, Rocky Crest, Grandview, Deerhurst and I’ve never played such a memorable golf course as Muskoka Bay. The extra friendly staff seals the deal.
Do yourself a favour, and make a tee time soon.

Definately a MUST PLAY!

Sure the previous sounds like an ad, so we now get it right from the horse’s mouth. Up next, Muskoka Bay GM, and a terrific guy and golfer, Jeff Boismier:

Thank you Andrew D.
The employees have worked very hard on service levels under the direction of Kevin Hamill (Golf Professional), Lori Reynolds (Group co-ordinator) and the course opened in fantastic condition because of Chris Goodman (SuperIntendent) and his staff.
I was fortunate to play a round of golf with Robert here at Muskoka Bay and invited him back to play the golf course from the fairways because I don’t think he really saw the course the way, that Doug intended!
It is very memorable and your right, it could be one of the most spectcaular courses, you’ll ever step foot on.

Gosh, you’d think I said nasty things about the course. I actually said it was the best course in Muskoka aside from Oviinbyrd. I guess GMs are so used to the advertorial that passes as “reviews” in most parts that they have a tough time taking any criticism. I hope everyone sees Muskoka Bay — it is a good golf course. That doesn’t mean it could not have been better. The bunkering is below average for the Carrick office and since there are so few of them, it stands out. And Jeff, I wrote the review on my first time round MB, a month or so before we played. Commenting that someone doesn’t get a golf course because they didn’t hit it straight all day is an easy way out. That would suggest a vast majority of people won’t understand MB — because most people will be playing from the woods all day. It is also like saying that Jeff can’t understand Doug’s design because he’s short off the tee. And his limited length keeps him from understanding Doug’s muscular vision for the course. I don’t believe that is the case, but that would be the argument.

Now on to the Ryder Cup:

Reader Wayne K likes my idea of a three team system, but takes it one step further:

I prefer a variation on RT’s suggestion. Make the Ryder Cup a 3 team event. The current champ gets a bye to the finals. The other two teams play a semi-final either on Tuesday-Thursday or the previous weekend.

If this format was adopted for the 2008 RC then Europe would be in the finals and they would face the winner of the matches between USA and Rest of the World. The risk, at least for the US, is that they would not make the finals, particularly when the event is being held in the US.

Good idea Wayne. I think it might even be workable. Next up, Angry Alfie, who proclaims he was just “having fun” with an earlier note.

The Americans will simply not change the format. There is just too much pride and money involved. The fact that the Americans have had a rough time during the last decade will only make them more resolved and focused. The American Team has the same problem in basketball right now. They are individually the best players on the planet, but don’t play as a team as well as some European nations. However, these things go in cycles and this too will pass. It is the beauty of sport. I was trying to convey the point that I believe that the current Ryder format is fine, and that we should not be reactive to the current difficulties of the American side. Their players are too good not to prevail in the future.

Just because the Americans don’t like it doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. Of course, Sir Euan of Coppinwood also support the status quo (the current situation, not the UK band), as long as it involves the Europeans thumping the U.S.:

Speaking as a European, there is nothing wrong with the Ryder Cup!
Leave it alone and let us enjoy this winning spell!

The best team will always win.

As long as the golf is good and the spirit of the matches stays where it is right now (thanks to Curtis Strange and Sam Torrance)the Ryder Cup has a very healthy future.

Offering a sensible take on things is KC, who suggests the problem with the U.S. team is the players. I’m sure we already know that, but KC offers a solution:

I do think the qualifying/selection process in the US is flawed. Players only get points if they are in top 10. But there are so many good players from the world playing the PGA, it is extremely tough for an American players to earn points. What they might want to do is to have American Players top 10 ranking in every qualifying tournaments.

Any casual PGA observers can point out that Steve Stricker, Dean Wilson, Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel are on form compared to the likes of Vaughan Taylor, Brett Witerich, Zach Johnson.

Also, feisty players like Jerry Kelly and Frank Licklitter would have been good – unfortunately, they had not played well.

I think Ryan Moore is going to be the next feisty competitor for the US.

I can not believe people brought up Fred Couples as a potential captain’s pick. I think his layback style is not conducive to getting people in a battle mode. Paul Azinger is my #1 choice. Especially given that Faldo would be the next Euro captain.

My question about Azinger is this: What happened to Mark O’Meara? Why didn’t he get a shot at the captain’s seat? He was a better player than Lehman and is well liked by the players. Strange…

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Robert,

    Here you are again expressing your love for Scottish golf. What really are the factors that make Scottish golf that much better for you? Is it because it is links-style or does being in Scotland make a difference?

    There are some rather nice links-esque courses this side of Atlantic – Sand Hills, Whistling Straits, Bandon Dune, Pacific Dune, Shinecock. Heck, even GTA’s own Eagle’s Nest. Other than being steeped in tradition and history, what makes the Scottish golf (courses?) better than the aforementioned courses?

  • KC:

    You need to go Scotland and play the courses to understand the difference…and if you have and still do not get it, then so be it.

    For me, golf in Scotland is unique, special, challenging, and beautiful. Part of it is Links golf, which is played along the ocean. In land courses are not links courses even though they may have other characteristics of links golf. Part of it is the golf culture…play in 3 or 3.5 hours, the course as a community park with locals walking the courses with their dogs, the respect of the history and rules of golf and part of it is the diversity and subtlety of the courses…views from the tee and landing areas, difficult lies and unique rough, influence of the winds and weather, and the uniqueness of the hole designs.

    The history and culture definitely contributes to a special feeling of golfing in Scotland but it is the uniqueness and challenge of links golf that makes it great.

  • Regarding O’Meara ommission, is it not because he was part of that vocal group that wanted more say over where Ryder Cup proceeds were spent? It was somehow interpreted as saying they wanted to be paid which was not really the case.
    But I agree, he deserves a chance ahead of most other names mentioned.

  • What I would like to see are three tournaments, each played every three years:

    – The Ryder Cup
    – The President’s Cup
    – A “World Cup”, between Europe and the Rest of the World.

    American players would like this format, as it gives them (and each team) an off year every three years. The European PGA and the Rest of the World organizing group would increase their revenue, having a tournament two out of three years instead of once every two years. And who doesn’t want to see the Europeans take on Vijay, Ernie, Retief and the gang?

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