Volume 92, Issue 5

Friday, June 12, 1998

hakuna matata


Hacking away at the best London has to offer

Photos by Geoff Robins/Gazette
HEY, WHO PUT ALL THOSE TREES IN THE WAY OF MY SLICE? Taking a look at the narrow fairway on the 8th hole at River Road from the 5th tee gives a good indication of how tight the course's fairways can get. Some of the narrowest in London, they make for a challenging round.

WHY WOULD ANYONE WORK WITH GOLFING LIKE THIS? Above, the beauty of the close to 75 year-old Thames Valley with the river in the backround. Below, a golfer heads for the 17th green at Oxbow Glen while a little critter appears to check out the 14th green at Maple Ridge [below].

By Brendan Howe
Gazette Staff

Shooting par, 300-yard drives, throw in a few birdies and the makings of a great round of golf are in place. Then reality hits and the approach to the 18th green becomes a vain attempt to break 100.

Well, it did happen a couple times but more often or not it was the branches of trees being broken when The Gazette's illustrious team of golf aficionados hit the fairways of some of London's finest golf courses to check out where the best places are "fore" (okay, bad joke) students to hit some balls.

After two weeks of early mornings, long hours of tiring, diligent work and countless sunshine-filled days the results are in on six of the city's public courses. Thanks to whoever's brilliant idea it was to put a bunch of buildings on the golf course which is now campus, students have to travel a little farther to frustrate themselves.

The following courses were rated from the point of view of an average golfer (shooting/cheating between 85 and 100) and were examined based on factors such as price, location, quality of fairways and greens and the amount of sand and water on the course. The best nine holes from each course were reviewed.

Maple Ridge Golf Club – Also coined "Maple Rock" for its ability to make a golfer feel like they're playing on the shore of Georgian Bay, this course offers a fairly challenging venue with several long holes on the back nine.

Built in 1960, the course is a bit of a journey from campus (about a 25-minute drive). The fairways for the most part are quite wide but the occasional narrow hole provides a bit of a variety. The greens and fairways, however, aren't the best around.

The $16 price tag for nine holes ($25 for 18) is normal for London golfing but after you factor in gas for the drive there and back it gets a little more expensive.

Thames Valley Golf Course– Definitely the closest to campus and the only one on this list that can be accessed by means other than a car, Thames Valley is probably the most popular for student golfers. Out of the six courses reviewed, this one is definitely the best for hackers who want to try playing on a real course for the first time.

Priced the same as both Fanshawe and River Road at $16 for nine ($23 for 18), this scenic course along the Thames River is one of the city's oldest courses. Born in 1924, it's definitely one of the more enjoyable ones to play.

Both fairways and greens are fairly well-kept and holes constantly twist around providing good variety and a challenge for long-hitters.

Hickory Ridge Golf and Country Club– The saying "location, location, location" applies substantially to this course -but to its detriment. To play here all you need to do is go straight west and after passing the middle of nowhere, make a left, drive 10 more minutes and you're there.

Although set in the middle of farmland, this two and a half-year-old course has a great design, tons of trees and enough water to warrant a caddie/lifeguard to accompany the average golfer. The $15 for nine holes on weekends ($24 for 18) is a little below the norm for London courses.

Well maintained fairways and greens, mixed with a little bit of beach, makes for a fairly challenging day on the links.

Fanshawe Golf Course – Comforting wide fairways greet the novice golfer on one of the three city-owned courses. Serving annoyed golfers since 1958, this course offers the option of playing on three different nine-hole courses.

Not a lot of sand and very little water make it, along with Thames Valley, a good starting ground for a beginner or a good place for a leisurely round for the intermediate Tiger Woods wannabe. Poorly marked fairways, however, do occasionally play havoc on approach shots.

Oxbow Glen Golf and Country Club– Beauty is definitely a word which comes to mind when trying to conquer this course. Set on the outskirts of London, Oxbow has the ability to make any student inadvertently forget about that afternoon intersession class.

The price of $16 for nine ($23 for 18) is what most of the city's courses are charging but the $5 to rent clubs ($8 for 18) is a great deal.

Very well-kept fairways and greens make for an enjoyable round even when you can't seem to find them. A good dash of water adds challenge to the course but not to the point where golfers need to make a stop at the Pro Shop to reload on balls.

Greens are not too well guarded, but not spending a lot of time in the beach does help the score out quite a bit.

River Road Golf Course– The newest of the city-owned courses, built in 1992, River Road is definitely the most challenging. Golfers looking for something a little tougher should pack up a whack of balls and head out here.

With very tight fairways mixed with a lot of sand and quite a bit of water, this is not a course for the everyday hacker but is ideal if you've finally straightened out those drives. The first four holes are fairly open and provide a good warm-up – but after that the course veers into the woods and it's time to bring out those less expensive balls.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998