I entered the season at 67/100, having played every top 100 west of Hamilton. Of the remaining 33, 28 were in Ontario, 1 in Quebec, 3 in Nova Scotia, with 1 pesky outlier in Newfoundland. This total was far more than I could have played in one or two trips (based on the high number and geographic dispersion of these remaining courses). Consequently, I approached the year with the intent of playing as many as possible, and returning in 2019 to finish off whatever I couldn't get to in 2018.
My first big trip targeted the Muskoka region, a golf rich area that I had yet to visit. While I've grown accustomed to 36 hole days, I knew I would need to ramp-up the intensity of this trip. Planned for mid-June, I knew the long days would allow me to tackle several 54 hole days on the tightly packed set of top 100 courses in the region. This is precisely what I did! Along with a few elusive rounds in the GTA that I was extremely fortunate to arrange (Goodwood, Magna, etc.), I finished the trip having added 19 new top 100 courses to my list in only an 8 day span.
|The signature 14th at Oviinbyrd - the crown jewel of Muskoka golf|
With a trip previously planned to NY, I decided to piggy-back a few days in Nova Scotia to make the pilgrimage to Cabot and Highlands Links. With flights booked, I made the bold decision to ferry to Newfoundland (a 7 hour overnight ferry) for a single day to play Humber Valley... when in Rome...
The wildly hectic itinerary of the NY/NS/NL trip took a toll on me, but I headed home at 90/100 (as well as 30/100 of America's greatest, having added NGLA, Friars Head, Winged Foot x2, and many others).
|Par 4 17th on Canada's best course (seconds before a near albatross)|
While still in New York I received a surprise invitation to play the Toronto Golf Club in roughly 2 week's time. This had been the most challenging golf course for me to access on my Canadian top 100 list. This was my opportunity!
I booked flights to return to the east within a few days of arriving home (on minimal rest, as previously mentioned). 10 courses remained. Of those, TGC and Rosedale were the anchor rounds, being the most difficult to arrange. Seven others were simply a matter of days/conditions. One would be a hurdle.
Google map the drive from Rideau View Golf Club to the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu if you want to know what I mean.
With the finish line in sight (and with a little help from the Yankees/Red Sox ALDS play-by-play), I got through my first 9 rounds. 99/100. Only Rosedale remained. The 10 hour drive from #99 Richelieu to #100 Rosedale is the furthest I have driven to golf on consecutive days. I reached Ottawa at roughly 1:00 am, and completely the journey back to Toronto the next morning.
|Dramatic 1st tee (#10 for my round) at Le Manoir Richelieu|
A grim forecast kept many members from Rosedale on the day I was scheduled, yet the rain never fell. My threesome was one of only two on the course.
Years ago I would catch myself dreaming of how I would complete the top 100 - strolling down the 18th fairway to thunderous applause. Like a (soon-to-be) first time major champion with a 12 shot lead on the 72nd hole. OK... I might not have envision quite the reception that Tiger received when he closed out the 1997 Masters, but I thought it would be a highly celebrated occasion. Perhaps friends and family would be there to congratulate me on this rarest of accomplishments.
It was, in a way, poetically ironic that I completed my journey nearly in isolation, with only my two hosts commending my efforts. The solitude of the game (especially when golfing alone) is what initially got me hooked as a 13-year-old. 13 years later, on a mostly empty golf course, I became the second person to play all of Canada's 100 best golf courses.
The final stroke of my top 100
One monumental feat complete. Many more to come.
'Til next time, keep your stick on the ice!
The Golfing Canuck