Trowmans Saying Goodbye To The Bluffs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reed On The Greens July 5, 2019
Trowmans Saying Goodbye To The Bluffs
by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioGolf.com

It’s never easy when you’re forced to abandon your dreams, but when family comes first, the decision is more easily made.

So when Mark and Sue Trowman, owners of The Bluffs Golf Club in Port Stanley, learned in April that Mark’s father, Harry, had suffered a stroke at his home in England, his well-being became their first concern.

With Mark’s mother, Sylvia, not willing to travel, Mark – an only child – decided this week to sell The Bluffs so that he is available to travel the 5,800 km to be at his 75-year-old father’s side whenever he’s needed.

Mark & Sue Trowman

“I’m a grown man, but I’m shedding a lot of tears,” said Mark about his father’s health crisis, and about the sale of his dream property.

Newcomers to the golf industry when they took ownership of The Bluffs in June 2010, the Trowmans were searching websites looking for lakeside cottage resorts when they came across a listing for the Port Stanley golf club with an asking price of $1.4 million.

Mark, Sue and their children, Kayleigh, 20, and Luke, 16, were living in Guelph at the time. In 2005, they had immigrated to Canada from England, where Mark was a member of The Belfry in Birmingham. He had spent 20 years as a business development manager with BMW before accepting a post in the automotive industry in Ontario.

“I love golf and have a passion for the sport,” Mark said. “We wanted to do something for ourselves. We did a lot of searches for cottage resort businesses, and when I expanded the search, I found The Bluffs. I said to Sue, can I have a golf course?”

The rest, as they say, is history. The Trowmans took over a nine-hole course measuring 2,300 yards, built in 2000 by Dwight and Marie Hepburn on farmland just 1,000 yards from Lake Erie and boasting spectacular view of the water and adjacent bluffs. In fact, there is no more scenic view at any other golf course in this part of Ontario.

The Moffat family purchased the course in 2004 – John was a long-time PGA of Canada professional and master clubmaker who died in 2011. He was assistant golf professional to his father, John Moffat Sr., at London’s Thames Valley Golf Club from 1963 to 1970.

The Bluffs became Mark’s own field of dreams. In recent years, he pumped $300,000 into course upgrades, reorganized the original holes, turned the nine-hole track into a first-rate 12-hole layout and planted 9,000 new trees on the 128-acre land parcel just a short drive from Port Stanley’s main beach.

New No. 6 at The Bluffs

“You’re going to struggle to find a better 12-hole golf course in North America, let alone in Ontario,” said a proud Mark. “The course has a completely new feel.”

The Bluffs was named Best Short Course 9 or 12 Holes, and Most Improved Golf Course in the 2019 Best of London Golf Awards, as chosen by the readers of LondonOntarioGolf.com.

“I poured my heart and soul, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this place. Sue was shocked when I told her of my decision. But she stands by me, just like she did when I told her I wanted to buy the golf course,” Mark said.

“I spoke with my dad yesterday, and he disagreed with my decision. But he has had three TIAs (transient ischemic attacks, or mini strokes) since his major stroke in April. I haven’t seen him in 18 months, and I want to be able to drop everything and go the UK when I am needed,” he said.

Realtor John Crosby, who handled the sale of the club for the Moffats, is now representing the Trowmans who are asking $1.65 million for the The Bluffs, its practice facility, 1,800-sq-ft. clubhouse, turf maintenance equipment plus a recently-renovated 2,000-sq.-ft. home.

The Bluffs measures 3,704 yards from the back (blue) tees, 3,380 yards from the whites and 2,865 yards from the forward tees. Patrons can play 12, 18 or 24 holes. The new No. 6 has been strategically routed to the clubhouse, so an 18-hole round leads you right to the 19th hole.

The 627-yard No. 9 (former No. 6) features raised tee blocks and a gorgeous yet intimidating look out onto Lake Erie, and plays almost completely straight rather than a former dogleg right into the green. Said Mark, “It’s a third of a mile long. This must be the most scenic par-5 in Southern Ontario.”

When the Trowmans took over, there were only 46 members. Today, there are 130, plus strong men’s and women’s leagues.

The sale of The Bluffs is the club’s third since its charter year in 2000. London and area’s over-supply of golf properties is well documented: In London, and Middlesex, Elgin and Oxford counties, there are nine private, 17 semi-private and 27 public golf courses.

Crosby handled the 2018 sale of Dorchester Golf and Country Club, and currently lists nine-hole Dutton Meadows Golf Club in Dutton for sale at $1,099,000.

Mark said letting go of The Bluffs is the hardest decision he has ever had to make. He watched his kids learn to golf there and become standouts on the Junior Tyson Tour. Kayleigh now golfs and studies at the University of British Columbia. With Luke finishing high school, the Trowmans will continue to live in the Port Stanley area while Mark decides on his next move.

“But I’m only thinking one week at a time, and only about my dad,” he said.

The Trowmans have been involved and valuable members of the local golf industry, holding numerous charity events at the club and embracing members like family. They will be missed.

View the listing for The Bluffs here.

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Reed On The Greens is a three-time writing award winner presented by the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Jeffrey Reed has been covering the Canadian golf scene since 1980. His third book, The Canadian Seniors’ Golf Association, Celebrating 100 Years of Seniors Golf 1918-2018, was published in 2018. He’s currently writing a biography of Sandy Somerville. Reach him at jeff@londonontariogolf.com.

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A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989.