There are scant few places you can play golf as early as April in most of Canada, with our unpredictable winters often extending in to the May delaying and shortening some seasons to a mere 5 months.
To escape the doldrums of these long prairie winters a life long friend of mine, John leaves Saskatoon mid April and heads to the south Okanagan region of British Columbia, more precisely to Oliver to play and be hosted by a remarkable group of people at Fairview Mountain. John, has done this annually for 16 years and after exhausting myself in trying to convince him to stretch out the drive and come all the way to Vancouver Island to play one of our many jewels I decided with about an hours notice that I was going to join him in Oliver. One round of golf, a couple of nice meals and 2 restless nights on a 1970’s hide a bed in his motel room was the order of the day. John and I played many a round back in the late 80’s and 90’s in Saskatoon and after he came through a bit of a cancer scare I decided 16 years apart was too long to be apart and away I went.
Arriving late on Friday afternoon we headed up to the golf course to get that pre game feel before our Saturday tee time. I was excited from the moment we entered the parking lot. I could tell just from looking at the overall layout that I was going to really enjoy this course and from Johns many years of telling me what a hospitable and friendly bunch the Fairview “team” is it was a recipe for pure bliss.
Saturday the wind was just short of howling so naturally having lived in Saskatchewan that meant nothing to us, but it was blowing well to be sure. We both had a certain amount of clothing items with our beloved Montreal Canadians logo emblazoned on it and 2 die hard Habs fans and best buddies set off. John was comfortable with the “beer drinkers” warm up. 2 cups of coffee and a quick stretch, follow by “I’m good, let’s go”. John would rather spend his time cajoling with the pro shop staff than hitting a bucket of balls and who could blame him. From Head Pro Brian MacDonald through to his right hand man Danny Long as well as the talented duo of Brady and Rob, the banter in the shop was spirited especially with 2 Habs fans going to toe to toe with all those Hab haters. Add to it that this was Masters weekend and we were all full of “expert” opinions and predictions.
My own personal commendations pale when looking at the accolades and awards that Brian MacDonald has received within the teaching and playing aspect of professional golf as well as the top 100 rankings the golf course itself has nationally. I can tell you though that nothing can kill a good day of golf on a great golf course into one never to be played again more than a bunch of arrogant golf shop employees. This would never be the case at Fairview Mountain as you can feel the warmth and good nature of Brian permeate right through the entire operation, from the guys greeting you at the Bag Drop area into the pro shop and upstairs to the lovely girls working in the restaurant, one so tuned in she actually painted her nails green for Masters weekend. On the course of the few green staff that we encountered during our round every one of them extended a wave from their machine or a smile if you made eye con
We headed out and with only Johns suggestions I aimed where he said to aim perhaps not realizing I like to take the ‘Tiger Line” and was usually 60- 70 yards farther off the tee than him. None the less the guy who caddied for me when I first passed my playing ability test to turn pro knew enough to warn me when to go for it.
As rusty as I was, I stood on the fifth tee even par and a sub 80 round in the cross hairs. I measure the actual playability and personal enjoyment of the golf course on a few specifics. Level tee boxes, well maintained greens, healthy turf grass and the make or break, really decent bunker sand. I also loathe golf courses that penalize a good shot and reward a bad one. Fairview Mountain possessed all of the aforementioned traits and none of the latter.I hit 5 bunkers and got up and down 4 times, my sand wedge gliding through the sand like a comb through a baby’s hair. Golf superintendent Art Riome and his team has a great deal to be proud of.
Another critical criteria is the food because I love a good snack at the turn served to me with a pretty smile, which is a bonus too. The hot dogs were awesome just about as much as the girls who served them!
I ended up finishing in the very low 80’s and feel like on my return visit, playing the same shots and knowing where to go I would shoot a mid to high 70’s, no problem.
Fairview Mountain has no weaknesses, the Furber redesign is excellent, the pro shop really splashy and upstairs the bar and restaurant coupled with a patio that looks out over the course is splendid.
John and I picked up where we had left off 16 years before but now minus the 24 beers, now wisely choosing to delight in a good hot chocolate or ice cold lemonade. Putting out on 18 we looked up to see that both Brian and Danny had both come out of the pro shop to the 18th green to see how we enjoyed the course and thank me for coming to rendezvous with John and do this review.
What a great day, what a great course, what great people.
Thank you Fairview Mountain .