Location: Elmira, Ont. (Near Kitchener)
Weather: 27 degrees and sunny
Green fees: $52 Twilight – Green Fee $35 and Cart $17
Tees used: Black – 6278 yards
Score Shot: 83
Length of Round: 4 hours, 15 minutes
Quality of service: Another rural Ontario course that doesn’t offer the pomp and circumstance of Glen Abbey but focuses on hospitality and golf. Pro shop staff were quite organized and friendly. A starter at the first tee during twi-light was a pleasant surprise. Didn’t see any on course staff and since there were no pace of play issues everything was fine. Strangely there seemed to be a different server for each table in the clubhouse. If you stay for a bite the Pulled Pork sandwich is an excellent choice.
Goat Track or Weekend In Paradise?: Elmira is a 40-year-old course that could easily be mistaken for one twice its age. While that wouldn’t be desirable for humans, it’s arguably a good thing in terms of golf courses. At 6278 yards, it is quite Old School, but with mature trees and hilly terrain virtually everywhere, that number becomes very deceiving. The first hole is a good indicator of things to come. A 317-yard par four with an elevated tee, I successfully managed to drive the green….and then three putted for par.
There is a creek that meanders through the property that comes into play on a handful of holes and a bunker or two guarding most greens but those hazards are pretty insignificant when compared to the narrow fairways, elevation changes and challenging greens that really wreak havoc. The best example is the 373 yard par 4 fourth hole that requires an accurate right to left shot off the tee to a fairway that seemed about 20 yards wide where you’re then faced with a short iron into a small green with a 30+ foot drop in elevation. Sounds tough enough but then add the fact that there isn’t a flat lie to be found, and if you miss that small fairway the rough, while not grown very long, is incredibly thick and penal.
There are only two par‚ fives at Elmira, one plays uphill and the other down, and they are both straight away. The 12th has one of the most treacherous greens I have ever played and it seems to be crowned much more than would ever seem fair. The four par‚ threes are strong mainly due to the length (the shortest plays at 175 and the longest 217) and the difficult greens. The third par three is the toughest despite being the shortest, with bunkers guarding the front left and right of another crowned green with OB not much more than ten yards from the right end of the green. The remaining twelve par‚ fours are spent mainly going back and forth (and up and down). There is some variety that shows up at a strong finish that starts with the 15th, 16th and 17th that really bring some risk/reward elements into the game. The 17th is the “signature hole” which, while quirky, does leave you a chance to make up some ground on an opponent, or a reason to fold up the tent completely. The yardage is 299 yards but since it’s an extreme dogleg left, the green is driveable by those peers of Bubba Watson. However there is no room to be short as there nothing but marshy hazard between you and the small green site.Ã‚ The finishing hole is also strong, playing a slight dogleg right with an elevated green below the onlookers on the deck of the clubhouse.
How the Rock Rolls: The greens really made the course seem extra tough. The vast majority are either very crowned or banked from back to front, and on our day of play seemed quite firm. When you were able to hold the slopes with your approach shot the putts ran very fast which made it essential to leave yourself below the hole. Numerous times I had downhill putts that had NO chance of staying close to the hole. The greens ran very true but with their speed side hill putts were extremely testy.
Conditioning: Conditions were excellent, but that’s expected on a year when pretty much every course seems to be in good shape. The rough never seemed overly long, but was as thick as any I have ever played. There were a few teeing areas that were crowned to the point of being annoying but it wasn’t a chronic problem.
Making the Cut: Elmira is a tough test for any golfer and would border on downright nasty for the average WH out there. Our round lasted 4 hours and 15 minutes, but with all the difficult elements to deal with I could easily see things slowing down on a busy weekend with golfers of “questionable talent” trying to navigate it. During the summer when the heat rises I could not imagine that walking would be much fun. Even in the spring I was glad to be riding. If you’re playing here for the first time or without someone that knows the course, please make use of the scorecard that has fairly detailed maps of the holes as there are many blind shots that you will encounter. The “fun” at Elmira is all in the challenge. Those who find it fun probably also consider root canals or ingrown toenails to be fun as well.
Hacker’s Highlights: If you’re a low handicapper at your home course that sports wide fairways and big greens, prepared to be humbled at Elmira. On the other hand, if you’re in the majority of golfers that can’t break 90, you may be better off spending your cash on a more enjoyable track that is less likely to chew you up and spit you out.
Hit to Your Pocketbook: This Weekend Hacker found that Elmira was worth about 75% of the green fee, maybe even a little less if you factor in the cart, which is almost necessary. Elmira is so difficult as to be painful, and after a week of pain at work, who needs to get kicked in the teeth during their weekend round?