Joined: 06 May 2005
Location: London, Ontario CANADA
|Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:20 am Post subject: Wilson Golf Reed On The Greens - Greenhills Golf Club
|Wilson Golf Reed On The Greens, by Jeffrey Reed
April 29, 2011
Copyright 2011 London Ontario Golf
It’s hard to imagine a more peaceful place in London, Ontario than Greenhills Golf Club. Like every ClubLink course, Greenhills actively participates in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. The pristine property is dotted with stands of trees, and is home to an array of wildlife and waterfowl.
But like every good golf club, Greenhills earns its lofty reputation for warm welcomes because of its people. It was true when a local group of developers built the course in 1975, and it holds even more true today for the 400-plus ClubLink members who regularly frequent its friendly fairways and greens.
In the mid-1970s, London developer Mowbray Sifton was best known for creating concrete shopping malls, apartment buildings and new residential neighbourhoods. But as one of the original Greenhills owners, Sifton took great pride in the construction of Greenhills Golf Club.
Greenhills, part of the ClubLink family since its purchase in December 1999, rests on land willed to the Ontario Heritage Foundation and managed by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. In fact, the peaceful enclave boasting numerous tight doglegs and comfortable elevation looks very much like it did even before architect Rene Muylaert designed the 18-hole championship layout.
Muylaert, who died in 2005 at age 69, designed more than 50 Ontario golf courses, including ClubLink’s DiamondBack Golf Club and Emerald Hills Golf Club. When Greenhills opened for play, it instantly resembled a grand old course. An easy walk for seniors, yet a true test of golf thanks to strategic bunkering and reliance on excellent shot values, Greenhills is one the most beloved golf properties in London. That speaks volumes, since the area is home to scores of quality courses.
Greenhills director of operations, Brad Esler, honed his golf skills as a junior member in the early-1990s. He knows more than anyone how the club’s 6,472 yards can quickly morph into a longer round of golf.
“The scorecard may read about 6,500 yards, but it plays more like a 6,900-yard golf course,” Esler explains. “You won’t get much roll. You’ll use every club in your bag. The poana greens will test you, as will the five par-5s and tight doglegs.”
Turf manager Dan Tonkin does a wonderful job keeping the course in tip top condition – sometimes challenging due to Greenhills’ elevation. The par-72 course sloped from the tips at 133, and with five sets of tees from 5,138 to 6,472 yards, has a companion course in a tidy 1,100-yard executive layout where many junior golfers get their start. There’s an active junior membership at Greenhills, where 2004 and ’06 Ontario Amateur champion turned touring pro, Andrew Parr, started his golf career. And, there’s a new boy wonder at Greenhills – Brett McIntosh, 16, who this past September captured his second consecutive Greenhills men’s club championship.
“Greenhills has really helped me develop my skills, because it really puts an emphasis on accuracy off the tee,” says McIntosh, a long hitter who tied the course-record 65 during the 2010 championship.
When ClubLink purchased Greenhills from Sonar Group, headed by hockey brothers Craig and Dave Simpson, it recognized that it had taken possession of a diamond in the rough. An immediate investment of about $1.2 million paid instant dividends in improved aesthetics. A luxurious banquet hall, well-kept driving range and practice green, plus five outdoor and six indoor tennis courts (which double as London’s best indoor driving range during winter) round out a full scope of amenities.
Head professional Matt Dominski adds another key element to the Greenhills experience. And while it is the people who make Greenhills a wonderful place to hang your hat, the golf course itself will wet your appetite for adventure. Signature hole No. 13 is a true testament to Muylaert’s risk-reward architecture. A 445-yard par-4 demands an accurate tee shot through a narrow shute, then presents two ponds on your approach to a quick green.
You’ll need to be at the top of your game at Greenhills, where the par-4 1st hole plays 377 yards uphill to a tricky green sloping back to front. The 519-yard 4th hole is a dogleg right with a fairway bunker ready to grab your tee shot on the left, and bunkers front right, right and back left of an extremely slick green. There’s no rest for the weary on the back 9, which features a challenging 398-yard par-4 16th hole – a sharp dogleg right bordered with thick woods, and a greenside pond. You’ll head in towards the clubhouse at No. 18 with a 532-yard par-5 which is familiar to thousands of daily commuters along Highway 402.
With risk-reward treasures like these, Greenhills played the perfect host to the 2001 Canadian PGA Club Pro Championship. The club hosts an annual Golf Association of Ontario match play qualifier, too. And in 2009, Greenhills hosted the Canadian Amputee National Open.
This June, Greenhills Tennis Club regular Dr. Kylea Potvin heads a new combination golf-tennis fundraiser in support of the London Regional Cancer Patient Assistance Fund. Dr. Potvin was a chief organizer of a pink-ribbon pro-am tennis-only event at Greenhills.
Stories like this are what make Greenhills special. It’s why 70-year-old Walt Cherwaty has called Greenhills home since 1979. The ClubLink celebrity has collected and sold golf balls for charity for more than 40 years. A retired school teacher, Cherwaty is part of the loyal Monday morning Masters League faithful, and a champion for Greenhills’ grounds.
“I bet I’m the only one to say this: I find the tough par-3 15th hole my all-time favourite,” Cherwaty says. “It is a very demanding tee shot for a relatively short hitter like myself who, as of late, has consistently needed to hit driver!” Esler’s only Greenhills hole-in-one came at the 214-yard 15th hole. His other ace came at ClubLink’s Blue Springs Golf Club.
And while the golf at Greenhills provides ClubLink members with many great memories, it is the people who make this club a very special destination.
Says Esler, “We’re family. We’re all friends here, and have been for years. Everybody here knows your name.”
Three cheers for Greenhills Golf Club, a heavily-treed course which has not lost any of its bark nor its bite in 35 years, and like a fine wine only gets better with age, thanks to the ClubLink family.
Ed. Note: Reed On The Greens will return Monday, May 9.
Wish to comment? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line, Letter To The Editor. Published responses will be posted at the 19th Hole section of the London Ontario Golf In the News Message Board.
About Wilson Golf
For nearly a century, Wilson Golf has designed, manufactured and distributed premium and recreational golf equipment throughout the world. Since 1914, Wilson Staff irons have won 61 Major championships, more than any other iron manufacturer in history. Wilson Staff's D-FY combo set, FG Tour irons, Conform glove and the distance D:25 golf ball were honored with Golf Digest's Hot List awards in 2010. Wilson Staff, Profile, ProStaff and Hope consumer brands continue that tradition today by delivering the highest quality golf equipment to all golfers to enhance performance on the course and overall enjoyment of the game.
Wilson Golf is a division of Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sporting equipment by Amer Sports. Visit www.wilsonstaff.com or call 800.267.7506 for more information.