Last course on the trail and I’m up in wine country again just south of Duncan at Cowichan Golf and Country Club. I’ve brought my 16 year-old and his buddy along. They’ve been practising at the driving range and at a short apr-3 course near our house, but it’s one of their first ventures out onto a full-length course. Is it going to be boom or bust?
The first hole is a straight away par-4 with the green beckoning in the distance. A high draw onto the 9th fairway didn’t help and neither did a slightly fat 6-iron or a complete failure to get it close from 20 yards short, but a solid bogey won the hole quite easily against my playing partners who both took mulligans on the first tee.
The course starts off with five par-4’s ranging in length from 320+ to over 400 yards and so they are all fairly solid two-shotters. It is early December and so we’re not getting much run off the tee, but the fairways are in good condition, so you don’t get a bad lie there either. The course is sort of pastoral, countrified if you like. It’s lush and green and you can see across the course rather than playing individual holes. There are trees present, but you can hit over them and be on the next fairway still leaving a shot in. Admittedly, sometimes you have to be really wide to do that, but it is possible. I speak from experience.
Not playing too badly after those first 5 though. Hitting it a bit wild, but OK. Just missing the greens with the second and not getting up and down so I’m 4-over.
The 6th and 8th are the two par-3’s on this side and managing to hit the greens both times helps with a couple of threes. The 6th was a far more inviting shot to a bowl shaped green with the 8th being to a more elevated target. Sandwiched in between was the longest par-4 on the course that played its full length today.
The 9th is the only par-5 on the front and its straight back towards the clubhouse. It looks reachable in two and after a solid drive I think I can make it, but yank the approach with the 5-wood left into and under the group of trees near the green. I manage to manufacture a low runner onto the putting surface and two-putt for par so I’m out in 40, 5-over.
I’m a number of shots ahead of the two 16 year-olds who are finding that hitting the ball off grass, and out of the rough, is a very different proposition than hitting it off a tee and a mat. Sure, they hit some solid shots occasionally and have all the exuberance and long swings of youth to get it a fair distance with a good whack, but all too often they are still standing too close to the ball after they have hit it.
The course was fairly flat on the front side, but the 10th presents us with an inviting downhill tee shot and second to a green sitting in a hollow before arriving at the signature 11th. It’s a long par-4 trending slightly left with a second shot carry over water. It was into the breeze today and I pushed it right onto the tree line from where I had to chip out and still hit a very solid 6-iron that just reached the front. My partners lost a couple of balls each in the water which really has to be carried unless you are way to the right.
Whether the boys were getting tired or frustrated, I’m not sure, but their golf started to deteriorate over the first few holes of the back nine. All I know is that it can’t be because they were hungry, because in the manner of all teenage boys they are constantly eating and had just had to fill up at the clubhouse after nine.
The second nine does have more elevation changes than the front, but it’s still not too bad and an easily walkable course. The same pastoral aura permeates throughout the back nine.
The par-3’s on this side are the 13th and 15th and I managed to hit greens there as well and so ended up with four threes on my card, which normally helps when adding up the score at the end. However, still having trouble with the longer shots and just being generally wild. In fact, on the 16th I hit my closest shot to the pin all day when I got it to about 8 feet. The only problem was that it was my tee shot on this par-5 and I actually hit it so far right I was on the 14th green, so instead of putting out, I had to drop off the green. Then I clipped a tree on the way back to the correct fairway, ended up at the bottom of that, chipped onto the fairway and took another 4 to get down for my first double bogey of the day.
The 18th is another interesting tee shot with the practise area fence to the right that you either go over or around. I tried the latter and tried to fade it left to right, but hit a bullet dead straight that went straight out of bounds over the bushes on the other far side of the fairway en route to a second double bogey. Finished with an 83, which was OK, I guess, but a bit disappointing for dropping four shots in the last three holes.
Liked the course. The first ball I lost was that one on the 18th that left the grounds. The rough was not long and was always playable. Tree trouble does exist just off the fairways and sometimes it helped to be a lot wild rather than a little bit. The boys, they took a lot of shots, but they would be back anywhere in a heartbeat, and I’m sure in a few years they’ll be beating me, so I’ll enjoy it while I can and try not to rub it in – at least not too much.