I spent the day at Galt in Cambridge followed by Cutten Club in Guelph in a 36-hole match of media types taking on local superintendents. This was the second annual event, hosted by golf designer Ian Andrew. It is too bad that Andrew can’t manage to get his business partner, Mike Weir, out to the event. It would have surely helped the cause of the media side.
Anyway, it is a diverse group, with the writers represented by Score’s Jason Logan and Rick Young, while Jeff Brooke from the Globe and Mail stepped up, with Mr. Andrew and myself rounding out the ranks. The CPGA’s closed-face wonder, Jeff Dykeman (and those who have seen him pound the ball will understand the reference), stepped up to fill in for Lorne Rubenstein, who had a personal matter that kept him away. Essentially the matches are 2-man, 9-hole scrambles, followed by nine holes of alternate shot, a nine hole better ball match and a final 2-man scramble.
The supers are represented by Cutten’s Dave Kuypers, the National’s Chris Dew, Mark Picollo at Galt, Cory Janzen at Westmount, Jarrod Barakett, formerly of Deer Ridge, and Jason Ireton, who works for Plant Products, hits a mean drive and apparently plays far too much golf.
Last year the writers were slaughtered, but this year the tide seemed to have turned. Though I managed to lose both points in the AM (in a fine match with Rick Young, and a horrible showing with Brooke), I teamed with Jason Logan and Jeff Dykeman in the afternoon to sneak in two halves. In the end it was all square, and by that point beer and chili meant no one was that intrigued at finding a way to break the tie.
The event is hosted by two courses that have been recently put under the knife by Andrew. Both are what one might refer to as “member’s clubs,” and both might underwhelm those interested only in length. I’ll write about Cutten at more length at some point — especially since it seems to be undergoing a bit of a renaissance — but needless to say it is interesting to see how a 6,400-yard golf course can hold its own when the weather is cool and the greens are interesting and full of character. I find Galt a bit the tale of two courses — with the upper holes being very old school and the lower ones along the river of a different scale — while Cutten is more cohesive. There’s a great buzz around Cutten after it managed to land a coveted spot in Ontario Golf’s Top 50 courses in the provinces. The club is very proud of the strides it has made — and rightfully so.
Interesting to hear what’s going on in the region with golf. Both courses are nearly full, despite the slowdown in the economy. That could be because neither are very expensive private clubs and therefore the slowdown has had less of an impact.
Also interesting to hear Barakett, who was at Deer Ridge in recent years, was let go by the club as it plans on rebuilding all 18 greens. Also interesting to see how Deer Ridge is going to bring designer Thomas McBroom in to rebuild the greens — not replicate them. Deer Ridge had an ambitious set of early McBroom greens, meaning they were extreme in places, but certainly had a distinct character. More recent efforts by McBroom are far more muted in style, almost to the extreme of his early efforts. Deer Ridge is the latest course to regrass its greens, which is a very costly undertaking. Most recently Devil’s Paintbrush closed to redo greens I also found to be near perfect, and Mississaugua regrassed and rebuilt its greens with a great deal of success. Can you say “industry fad?”
Note: I received this reply from a Deer Ridge member:
I think your deer ridge info. might be a bit off. Yes, Jarrod is gone but wasn’t let go – his contract was up and wasn’t renewed. There is a difference. The board made the decision. Greens have been an issue for the a # of years and they’re looking to re-do them so they don’t hold so much water and bring back newer bent vs. plenty of poa in there now. Would be nice to have them be more consistent day to day.
McBroom is being brought in but the plan is to keep the green undulations as they are and just deal with two or three holes that have slopes a bit severe. Only 1 is what I’d call sketchy and that’s #4 but it’s about a 6 out of 10 in terms of severity vs. the 10 out of 10 at say #12 @ westmount (mcbroom at worst). The other which is a bit too much slope is #15 but just a little. All the other greens will maintain their specs.
As far as the course being in trouble, that’s way off base. 400 equity members are all sold and have been since about 1999 – like any equity course there are people that leave and new people that come in. There is not a wait-list (where is there?) and equity price has come down – same as all other equity courses.