Welcome to the Men's Stag Night 2019 Season

Jul 2, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Roy

Niagara’s Friendliest Golf Course Turns 30













 

Here is a quiz, what equals 946,080,000 seconds? I’ll save you the trouble of not having a calculator at the ready. It’s for 30 years. Niagara’s Friendliest Golf Course is 30 years young (although if 60 is the new 30, then 30 must be the new 10, just saying) and still swinging from the tips!

In today’s fast-paced world, it is easy to not notice some of the things that are important to us and are right in front of us every day. For instance, you set up a time to meet your friends at Whisky Run and unless you break your leg, your chances of a fun time are a given.

Having been in the business of golf for the better part of my life I can attest to you Niagara’s Friendliest Golf Course didn’t just happen. There was and still is a great deal of hard work behind the scene’s that no one actually sees unless you are fortunate to have a front-row seat. I speak from experience when you own or run a golf course you or your family in Whisky Run’s case are always the first to arrive when the sun comes up and the last to leave when the sun goes down. The hours are intense for a Canadian golf course located here in Niagara. Golf course operators put in the same number of hours as everyone else, they just do it in a condensed 8-month season, not 12 months as is the norm.  At the peak of the season, it is not uncommon to put in 14 to 16-hour days. After a few of those back to back and you start to feel the phenomenon of blended days. One day begins to blend into the next and you forget what day you are on. Sounds crazy until you experience it and then the only thing you are looking for is a lounge chair that provides a full body massage and maybe a dozen Sinister Ministers to snap you back to full unconsciousness.

One does not think of Whisky Run without thinking of the Nieuwland family and their extended family. Hitching oneself to someone in the business of golf is not for the faint of heart. It takes a special person to share one’s life with people who are bent on swinging clubs ill-equipped for the job, at an inert spherical object and propelling it forward (sometimes backwards) toward an intended target hundreds of yards away that is only 4 ¼ inches in diameter. And the best part is that even when these so-called sane people fail miserably, they keep coming back for more punishment, and insist on calling it FUN!

Kevin and his crew keep the golf course itself in great condition. No easy feat. What so many golfers do not realize is that Golf Course Superintendents live each summer on the edge? We mere mortals think nothing of it, but I can attest to you Kevin is watching the weather and doing his best to stay one step ahead. Mother Nature is no easy partner. She has been known to throw all kinds of obstacles at the course over the golf season. To much rain, not enough rain, too hot, too cold, winds that can turn in to mini tornadoes, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention Superintendents must wake up the course before the season begins and then put it to bed when the time is right. All of that takes patience coupled with extensive knowledge in agronomy. Whisky Run is always green and in great condition thanks to Kevin and his staff.

Jessica is just the best because she learned from the best, Maribeth. Yes, pun intended. After a completely exhaustive day while working around our house I asked the ever-lovely Wanda had she seen anyone work harder than I did that day? She didn’t miss a beat when she replied, “really, Maribeth and Jessica work harder than that every day at Whisky Run.” Their efforts are on full display when you come to the course and are greeted by the well trained and ever-friendly clubhouse staff. Suzy leading the charge to make sure all who stop by before or after their round are well looked after with each visit to the clubhouse. The food that Ashley and her team in the kitchen can crank out is truly amazing. And the “Fries,” are the best. (trust me, I am an expert on fries, really) Again, what we see are the results of endless hours of preparation and training behind the scenes, most of it before the season officially starts. An interesting fact about any new golf season is that it goes from 0 to 100 in a matter of days. No in-between. I have even coined my own phrase, just after the season truly cranks up, say mid-May. I start my summer reframe, “is it October yet?” And that continues until October!

Not to leave out Father-to-be Luke and Father Lou in the Golf Shop. (you can find Lou almost anywhere on the property and at odd times too, ownership comes with all sorts of privileges) The Golf Shop staff are great at juggling tee times with walk-ons, to handling the pace of play on the course. (which is a challenge for any golf course) Even the assembled cast of Player Assistants are well versed at handling the flow of members, guests and the golfers in training. It takes a special touch to inform people that they may not be as good as they think they are and an encouraging word to help them remember that it’s not the group behind you that counts. But the group that is now 2 holes ahead of you that you need to concern yourselves with. Please and thank you! All with a smile.

One other thing that makes Whisky Run a special place is the Nieuwland family’s commitment to the city of Port Colborne and the Niagara Region. They continue to give back to the community and not only to share financially but also in service. Having had the chance to volunteer for Canal Days, I was overwhelmed by how many people told me that the only reason they come to Canal Days was to participate in the challenge of hitting a golf ball across the canal. Go figure! Since 2007 Whisky Run has donated more than $100,000 to local youth sports.

Early in my career, I asked someone who I can honestly say never complained about anything when it came to his golf game or the course. He was always polite and courteous. So, I asked him one day, “Doc, why are you always so positive and happy?” His reply has stayed with me, he said, “Pro, I only have two expectations when I play golf, one; is the golf course green? Two; is the beer cold when I finish?”

Whisky Run accomplishes both, a green course and cold beer and all things in between. As someone who has been sitting on the sidelines this season, I look forward to any chance I get to at least visit Niagara’s Friendliest Golf Course. Because of the Nieuwland family, the members and guests, it has been a special place for the past 30 years and all indications it will be a special place for another 30 years to come.

Fries

 



Jun 25, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Roy

You Can't Make this sh$t up!!








 

Having more time on my hands than an innocent man on death row these days. I find myself reflecting on the most bizarre things that come to the forefront of my once fertile cranium. In amusing myself by watching Mother Nature take her sweet time in getting here I observed this Seagull do his best to audition for a walk on part for Freddie’s team, the OV’s. I believe this was his third bottle. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Many years ago, I proved that truth is often stranger than fiction and Seagulls are smarter than some humans. You see for anyone who has visited Canada’s 44th ranked golf course according to Score magazine one would notice a long narrow building to the south side of the parking lot which is the home to the courses 50 E-Z-GO golf carts as well as the members golf clubs. One would also observe that the semi-circular drive that welcomes you to the front of the clubhouse is outlined with eight beautiful Cherry trees. And as if by magic each spring the trees would blossom and bring forth the sweetest cherries in Ridgeway. Well these Cherries were not just the envy of the members and staff they were also coveted by the local Seagull’s Union- branch 72. 

As Seagulls like to do, they would swoop down and start relieving the trees of their sweet fruit. Seagulls like humans who eat cherries to excess kick start their digestive system and ramp said system into overdrive. That overdrive signals the body to purge itself quicker than lighting can clear a golf course. The only part of the cherry that does not get digested is the pit. Which now brings me to the point of this timeless memory. 

Once the Seagulls would leave the cherry trees, they would find refuge atop the long narrow cart shop. At any given time, one could observe over 100 Seagulls perched along the ridge line of the roof. Now the cart shop has no eaves troughs, so once the bird’s digestive systems got started one would notice a perfect line of cherry pits forming from East to West on the asphalt along the exterior of the building. I considered it one of the wonders of Ridgeway, that a perfectly straight line formed by discarded cherry pits could be so easily observed. 

Now here is the truth stranger than fiction part. A lady (not picking on ladies, it just to keep the accuracy of the story) came up to me to complain that my staff were, well disgusting. She noted that they discarded their cherry pits by spitting them on the asphalt outside instead of properly disposing of them in the trash like civilised young people. Ok, to say that I almost lost it would be an understatement, but I being a professional quickly composed myself and with great satisfaction pointed out that not only was my staff not the culprits of such an unhealthy practice but that the actual perpetrators of said crime was none other than the pesky Seagulls that adorned the rooftop of the cart shop. 

To my surprise once confronted with the truth was her timeless reply, “You would say and do anything to protect your staff wouldn’t you.” 

My only thought at the time was that I would have to be the world’s greatest animal trainer, if I could get over 100 Seagulls to eat cherries and then defecate them into a perfectly straight line of over 120 feet. I am sure that would have made the Guinness Book of World Records!

As the saying goes in the golf business, you can’t make this sh$t up! Pun intended!

Jeff

 



Jun 19, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Roy

Rakes Shouldn't be a Hazard





 

After witnessing Jordan Spieth’s adventure with a misplaced rake on the second hole at Pebble Beach in last weeks US Open, it brought back frightful memories of my own tragic experiences with said gardening tools. Who would have thought that a simple implement that was designed to return a Bunkers sand back to playable standards could inflict such damage to one’s score? It can also have a sustained affect on one’s psychological make-up as well. As we all know sometimes it’s the simple things in life that can send us humans running for cover.  

It’s the age-old question, which came first the Bunker or the rake? The placement of rakes around Bunkers have been a constant source of agitation for me from the time I picked up my first club at the age of 10. I learned to play on a 9-hole course that had a few Bunkers and I was taught how to take care of them properly. It was instilled in me from the very start that the Game of Golf was a Ladies and Gentleman’s game and that your number one priority was to leave the playing area (course) better than you found it. Fix unrepaired divots, put one’s own divot back, fix ball marks on the green and pick up any garbage blowing around the course. Just a simple metaphor for life it’s self. Think about those who will be following you and don’t leave them any unexpected surprises. Let’s face it life and golf are tough enough as it is without encountering some easily avoided mistakes if everyone just worked together and applied some common sense. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen every time and we are often forced to deal with the overlooked mistakes of others. Some say that’s what keeps golf and life interesting, I say no, it just adds to the frustration that is inherent in our day to day lives. Pitching in and helping in the little things makes everyone’s life better.

On the LPGA Tour when I caddied for Cathy Sherk it was drilled into every Player and Caddy the Bunker Rule at the time. It was a simple rule with serious financial consequences to the Player. Any Caddy who leaves a rake improperly placed after raking a bunker will subject his Player to an automatic $500 fine. So, you ask what was the rule? Rakes where to be left inside the bunker, parallel to the fairway.

My inquisitive mind needed further clarification, so I sought out a Rules Official one day to get the reasoning behind such a harsh penalty. She explained it this way; if a rake is inside the bunker and is parallel to the fairway a ball traveling along the outside of the bunker will continue past the bunker. However, if a rake is laying outside the bunker and a ball is moving past and hits the rake it has a chance of being stopped, or worse, deflecting the ball into the bunker. A ball that strikes a rake that is already inside the Bunker is less of a problem since the ball has already entered the Bunker.

 

Seeing Jordan’s ball just clear the top edge of the bunker and strike the rake brought this simple rule I learned from the LPGA back to mind. There is no official rule in the rules of golf outlining the placement of rakes and Bunkers. But I like the LPGA rule since it is less likely to cause issues. Who cares if your ball hits a rake when its already inside the Bunker? But as you can see by Jordan’s shot a rake outside the Bunker can have a very big impact on not only the shot being played but other consequences that are not seen.

I remember playing an event where one of my fellow competitors hit a fairly descent shot on a Par 3 that landed just to the left of the greenside bunker and should have been safely on the green. However, the ball hit a rake that was misplaced between the green and the bunker (on the collar) and the ball ricocheted out of bounds to the right. He went from what would have been an easy par or birdie to having to re-tee and hit his third shot and ended up making a double-bogey 5. Ouch! All because someone left the rake outside the Bunker.

So, all being said, rakes should be left inside the bunker parallel to the fairway.

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/us-open-2019-jordan-spieth-hits-bunker-shot-off-hidden-rake-has-classic-exchange-with-his-caddie

Bonus Feature

Frieisem; “the quality of a rake job after a bunker shot is directly proportional to the quality of the shot leaving the bunker.” Simply put, the player sticks his bunker shot to 3 feet from the flag and you would think his raking will be featured in next weeks Home and Garden. However, should he skull his shot across the green into the trees, the chances of that bunker being raked properly is as likely as finding an instant cure for the “shanks.”  

Jeff

 



Jun 12, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Roy

Rory is the Real Deal







 

As Canadian’s we can take comfort in knowing that our National Championship was in good hands with Golf Canada choosing to host the event at the Hamilton Golf & Country Club, a venue worthy of a national competition. We can also rejoice in the fact that our own Adam Hadwin worked his way to sixth place with a -12. (268) It is great to see that our Canadian’s are once again playing solid golf week in and week out on the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour.

How would I know if Rory is the Real Deal, by personal experience? I had a brief encounter with this young man in May of 2015 at the TPC at Sawgrass. Rory helps me set up this story himself when he gave the following comment on Sunday.

“By the time I got to the 14th tee, I really wasn’t thinking about winning the tournament, I was thinking of trying to shoot 59. I had to reassess my goals a little bit on the middle of that back nine,” he said with a chuckle. “This is what I feel I can do. I’ve been able to do it before and it was nice to get back to that feeling. It’s been a while. I think it’s going back to Quail Hollow in 2015. I won by seven shots there.” As quoted from the article by Dave Hilson of the Toronto Sun.

A little secret about being in the golf business is that you are often subject to competing schedules and my schedule always competed with me being able to find the time to watch golf on TV. I was always relegated to the either reading up on or watching the highlights on Monday of the events held over the weekend.

I was invited to work the TPC at Sawgrass in 2015. I really loved that event. We had much more space to work in and around with the players. It was so open and inviting compared to other venues where space was so restricted that you felt claustrophobic at times. The other great thing about the TPC was there was no Wednesday Pro-Am to mess up the schedule. We had 3 full days to work with the players not 2 as in most cases.

In preparation for the week we decided to fly down on the Saturday and while changing planes in Atlanta we had a 3-hour layover. Not one who opening looks for local establishments that sells adult beverages, I was inclined to find a spot that would allow me to indulge myself in a quiet pursuit of watching some golf.  I found the perfect little hideaway and enjoyed a nice meal, all along drinking in the PGA Tour event at Quail Hollow in North Carolina. I sat there mesmerized at watching a young man from Northern Ireland who just shot a 61. That afternoon while seated in a little out of the way establishment at the Atlanta Airport I witnessed an amazing performance. I was getting more and more excited about my upcoming assignment at the TPC knowing that Rory was in the field.

Well we made into Jacksonville just fine that evening and hopped into our rental and heading for Ponte Vedra the home of the TPC. I visited with some friends who lived right at the TPC that night and relived the phenomenal round of golf I had witnessed during my travel down.

On Sunday Rory proceeded to go on and shoot a -3 to win the event at Quail Hallow by 7 strokes. I did get to see some of Sunday’s round while preparing for the upcoming week at the TPC, but it just wasn’t the same as the day before when I had the opportunity to actually watch uninterrupted the complete back nine.

So now move forward roughly 12 hours. We get to the TPC at around 8:00 a.m. nice and early to get a start on what will be a busy day. However, the range is empty of players. I knew that would not last long and sure enough the first player and his caddy are spotted making their way to the range. As they get closer, I realize it’s Rory Mcllory and his caddy. The caddy grabs two bags of range balls and heads to the first open spot next to the tent set up on the range.

I am surprised to say the least. Here is a young man who just won the day before and is now the first person on the range on Monday. I am impressed and as Rory begins to do some stretches to warm up, I make my way over. I introduce myself as a golf professional from Canada and related how I don’t get to watch much golf on TV but watched him shoot 61 on Saturday. I let him know that it was one of the most enjoyable rounds I had ever witnessed. Seeing him shoot 61 was going to stay with me for a long time.

That’s when he asked, “you say it looked good?” “Yes, I said it looked fantastic, you where so composed and confident, it was a site to behold.” That’s when he smiled and simply said, “well, you should have seen it from my eyes, it was even better.”

We continued to chat for about another 10 minutes or so and when he was ready to begin his practice session I stepped away. All the while thinking, what a super genuine young man. Wins a tournament on Sunday and he is the first one on the range on Monday.

The other great thing that happened was I witnessed some of the greatest names in the game at the time, each make their way over to Rory and offer a sincere congratulations on his win.

Golf is a great game at all levels of play and having Rory Mcllroy’s name added to the list of Canadian Open Champions is a blessing to Canadian golf.

Jeff

 



Why do You Play Golf??

Jun 5, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Roy

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W.T.F.

May 29, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Roy

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Remember Me!

May 15, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Roy

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