Review: The Bluffs Golf Club











Review: The Bluffs Golf Club, Port Stanley ONT
by Jeffrey Reed, Editor,

To say that the new, improved Bluffs Golf Club in Port Stanley, Ontario offers beauty and brawn would be an understatement. In fact, now that the picture-perfect course has undergone a $200,000 facelift which included the planting of 9,000 trees, owners Mark and Sue Trowman don’t hold any punches when presenting accolades to the now 12-hole layout bordering Lake Erie.

“You’re going to struggle to find a better 12-hole golf course in North America, let alone in Ontario,” Mark said. “The course has a completely new feel. You won’t believe you’re at The Bluffs.”

Even before The Bluffs morphed from a nine- to 12-hole course last week, area golfers raved about the pretty track just a short drive west of Port Stanley Beach. The Trowmans are hands-on owners, with Mark acting as superintendent and Sue handling the clubhouse. Their children, Kayleigh, 18, and Luke, 14, are standout golfers – Kayleigh is a multiple winner on the Junior Tyson Tour, and Luke holds the new 12-hole course record of 50 (+4).

Five years in the making, The Bluffs expansion saw a setback last season when lack of rain postponed the new layout’s grand opening. But the old adage, “The best things in life are worth waiting for,” certainly applies to this tidy track resting less than a half hour south of London. In fact, with blue tees measuring 3,704 yards, The Bluffs is anything but an executive-length course. Said Mark, “I made a statement with the blues on this course. Now, if you play the blues, it’s because you can play golf.”

Seeking Paradise

Mark & Sue Trowman

The Trowmans’ trek to The Bluffs was anything but ordinary. Newcomers to the golf industry when they took ownership of the club on June 24, 2010, the family was searching websites looking for lakeside cottage resorts when they came across a listing for The Bluffs, with an asking price of $1.4 million.

Mark, Sue and the kids 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 a 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.

New No. 6 at The Bluffs

The Moffats 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.

Unlike the Moffats, the Trowmans had no experience in the golf industry. But never underestimate the power of passion. Mark’s love and knowledge of the game has, with much assistance from Sue, blossomed into a first-rate golf club operation. When the couple took over the course in 2010, there were 46 members; today, there are 120, with growing league play involving 88 men and 83 women.

What’s New?

New Bluffs Course Map

With a reorganization of existing holes, 9,000 new trees (160 had to be removed during construction), and three new holes, The Bluffs measures 3,704 from the back (blue) tees, 3,380 from the whites and 2,865 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.

Holes No. 6, 7 and 8 are new. Here’s the skinny:

• No. 6 – 267-yard par-4, down into a ravine and crossing a creek;
• No. 7 – 153-yard par-3, across creek;
• No. 8 – 429-yard par-4.

Here are some of the more dramatic changes to existing holes:

• No. 10 (old par-3 No. 7) now 306-yard par-4;
• No. 2 (formerly par-4) now 469-yard par-5;
• No. 4, a par-4 now measuring 299 yards, requires a 190-yard carry over water;
• No. 5 also has a new blue tee block and is now a 167-yard par-3 with elevated tee.

The 627-yard No. 9 (former No. 6) should be called, Beauty and the Beast. Raised tee blocks offer 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 – and the most improved golf club in London and area.”

New scorecard

Local golfers can have their say from September 1 – December 31 when the 6th Annual Best of London Golf Awards voting opens.

The Bluffs offers a complete practice facility (a Trowman addition), and, with special daytime rates, golf with power cart at less than a buck a hole when making the loop twice at 24 holes.

The Trowmans have even added a new twist, now that they offer 12 holes of golf. Instead of a Nine and Dine, they’re offering a Bluffs special: Dine a Dozen.

“When you go out and play our course now, you won’t believe what you see,” Mark added. “This really is the best 12-hole golf course in North America. I stand by that statement.”

That’s a statement stemming from Trowman’s love of the game, and love of the land. The true test will come when golfers get to experience the new-improved Bluffs. From first glance, and having had the opportunity to play the old track, I’d say The Bluffs Golf Club has elevated itself from a local hidden gem, to a gem on the Ontario golf map. I can’t wait to make the loop – twice – in order to take in the new experience.

The Bluffs Golf Club
35593 Lake Line Rd., Port Stanley, ONT

First foursome at new 12-hole Bluffs

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office established 1989.