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Bud Light Muskoka Golf Trail Pro Am

by Scott A. Sumner
  Golfers are a competitive bunch and this June I was able to play in the very prestigous Bud Light Muskoka Pro Am.  Each team of three amateurs and one professional play a 2 net 4 ball event where the two best net scores counting on each hole over four courses in the beautiful Muskoka area.  You individual entry fee of about $1500 provided you with some great welcoming gifts including - top of the line Addidas golf shoes and shirt, a Maxfli glove and dozen Maxfli balls.  You also receive your accomadation for two nights at one of the resorts, breakfasts, lunch and fabulous dinners.  Our media group stayed at the luxurious Grandview Lodge in spacious condominium units right on the water.  It was a picture perfect setting.
     Our first day of golf was at the Mark OMeara designed course located at Grandview Lodge.  The spectacular stone exterior clubhouse really caught my eye when we registered.  Pure luxury!  The course is fantastic as well.  It opened in 2001, signifying the first design for PGA Tour star Mark O'Meara.  You can't help but be struck by the rugged terrain, wetland, granite out croppings and great elevation changes.  "Each hole has its own character, inspired by the many natural features of this great Grandview site' notes Mark O'Meara. I  was especially taken by the wetlands complete with tree stumps that gave an eery feeling on this overcast day, the first of our tournament.  Our team consisted of Greg Dukart, General Manager of Golf Links Prince Edward Island and a former Canadian Tour golf professional.  Fellow golf writer Rob Vanderzalm of Sydney, Australia grew up playing golf with a golf career in mind.  The 5 handicap player spent 21 hours on a plane to be here.  Filling in at the last moment for golf course architect Tom McBroom, was Don MacKay owner of the Muskoka Highlands golf course and a 19 handicap.  My 12 handicap game had become rusty but playing 6 courses in 4 days soon helped. 

    After a pretty good start to the golf competition it was to our resort for a great dinner and anticipation of playing at the famed Deerhurst Highlands course.  Opened in 1990 as a Robert Crupp/Tom McBroom design it was the first major golf course in Muskoka setting the stage for a magnificent new golf course destination in Canada, Each nine consists of two par threes, five par 4s and two par 5s.  It plays to over 7000 yards from the gold tees.  After a nice breakfast in the same room where Canadian superstar Shania Twain got her start as a singer, we began our game in the fog off the lake.  The first several holes meant you couldn't see your shots land because of the weather, but soon we had brilliant sunshine and a temperature of 31degrees celsius.  This course was very pretty, well conditioned and a great challenge to play.  I think the Muskoka area courses want to test your golfing abilities as you have to be able to traverse some punishing waste areas and be accurate with your  iron shots.  The greens are large, undulating and require some good reads.  The bunkers are great with perfect sands.  Deerhurst Highlands was a pleasure to play.  Our team had started to gel and for part of the round we were very good.  One hole we made a net birdie and eagle.  After this round are paring would be made and at dinner we all found out we would be playing the final round at the Taboo course in Gravenhurst.
That night with two Albertans in our group it was off to watch the Stanley Cup Final.  Our diverse golf group included writers and golf business people from Liverpool, England, Manchester, England, Hong Kong, Portland, Maine, San Francisco, California, Sydney, Australia, as well as Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal, Charlottetown, Victoria, Whistler and Thunder Bay in Canada!  We had found out the leading team in our group included a Glen Abbey Pro.  Our group were quite happy to play Taboo, the home courses of our own Mike Weir.
   Our next days start included a miscue on the directions to Taboo and brought us some 50 km in the wrong direction.  After some high speed motoring by our captain Greg Dukart we were able to make our shot gun start with about 30 seconds to spare!.  The staff at Taboo brought out our breakfast to our hole start and we were ready to go.  Surprisingly we played quite well.  So much for practice on the range and putting green.  Taboo certainly lived up to it's reputation as being one of the top 10 courses in Canada.  Owned by the billionaire business Reisman family with mining backgrounds, you could see money was not any consideration on this very special layout.  Taboo plays to 7200 yards from the black tees and is extremely well conditioned.  The greens were the best we had seen and the fairways and tee boxes equally as plush.  It is a very beautiful course as well with the trademark rock cuts every where to keep the Canadian Shield setting.  The course was designed by Ron Garl who states.  "Our desire was to create a course that would be a challenge of both skill and mind, while never letting you forget about the breathtaking, natural vistas that abound."  As we travelled the course on our GPS equipped carts in was a pleasure to play and good shots rewarded you with pars and birdies.
 Another 31degree celsius day meant we drank lots of water and after a great day of golf it was off to see one of our groups win this division.  The team captained by professional Murray Blair,  Corporate Director of Golf Operations for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts won and received Taylor Made RAP iron sets for their efforts.  The team also include David de Smith, Bill Brazeau and Pullitzer Prize winner cartoonist Paul Szep.  Great going for a team from our group.
   The Muskoka Bud Light Pro Am was a great event and allowed us to play some of the best courses in Canada.  I hope you get the chance to play here as well.  For further information visit www.canadagolf.com

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