The setting: Oak Hills Golf Club’s Glen Course, near Stirling. The stakes: alarmingly high. Just how high? How about ‘Hasn’t-Been-Golfing-All-Summer-Because-Of-New-Baby-Tourism Director’ vs. ‘Late-60’s-Traded-His-Bifocals-for-Trifocals-Retired Teacher’ – that’s how high. This is the first of a three-round match play tournament we play every year, called the Javex Cup. It’s similar to the PGA Tour’s Fed Ex Cup only in that they rhyme. Otherwise, The Javex Cup is completely and absolutely different in every way. We aren’t pros, we don’t have sponsors, there’s no cut and instead of a 10-million-dollar purse, the winner gets a case of beer.
The Glen Course was the perfect venue for round one – short enough so distance and lack of play weren’t limiting, but challenging enough so our skill would be demanded and our wits about us required. Oak Hills is the only course in the Bay of Quinte Region to boast a 36-hole offering. The Highlands gives golfers a challenge up to 5655 yards at par 70, while the Glen provides players a par 69, 5135-yard offering. On this day, the course is in great shape, the weather is beautiful and the fall leaves give the first glimpses of their rich reds and oranges all around us.
Two of the first three holes on the Glen have elevation changes that are interesting for any golfer. Number one is a short approach into an elevated green which seems simple enough, but is simple to miss. Hole three has what is easily a 30-yard drop to the green, which makes for a beautiful view of the surrounding hills and farmland at the crest of the knoll, but makes for another green which is tough to hold. Moving to number five, a definite highlight of the round was the two of us sinking long, left-breaking putts from off the green, opposite the water. Maybe we are pros!
Before you know it, we’re finished the front 9. I’ve gotten lucky a few times and am up 4-3. Unfortunately, the corduroy pants that were nice and cozy at 10am are now a regrettable fashion choice in the twenty-five degree heat (which is otherwise a dream at this time of year). Like my pants, the old man is heating up. His fairway shots are bang on and he’s capitalizing, catching me, catapulting to the lead.
Playing the back 9, you wander alongside beautiful fields, a meandering stream and a great variety of big and beautiful trees. Looking up, you can see the Stirling hills all around you. We reach 14, which is a neat hole – it’s a long par 5 with a visually narrow approach due to trees on both sides. On the green, it’s typical to spy cows hanging out in the field the other side close by. They chew the hay while we chew the fat about the slope of the green and how our putts might break.
We move to the home stretch. 15 and 16 are short holes, but both have very sharp doglegs that go in opposite directions. f you have Bubba Watson length and style, then I suppose you could hit the green with a banana drive. But we aren’t Bubba. So we don’t Bubba. Instead, we hit a short club(ba), followed by approach shots into what are probably two of the smallest greens on the course.When we finish the hole, the cows don’t even so much as glance in our direction. For supposed ‘live’ stock, they’re pretty hush.
The finish on 18 is another elevation change that goes up sharply at the hole and has a slope that kicks left along the right side. The ideal shot is about five yards right of the green, in order to kick softly and roll to the back left of the putting surface. Neither of us manage to do that, in case you were wondering. Once our final putts go in, our hats go off, our handshake is firm and our eye-lock no doubt frightening for any would-be audience members – be they of human or bovine variety. But despite all of this grueling competition, the camaraderie is high – it was a lot of fun, a beautiful day and a great course. He got me 4-3 on the back nine, leaving our match play at a deadlocked 7-7 after round one. If we stay tied through the next two rounds, we’ll no doubt keep playing for a winner ‘til the cows come home. After all, it’s the Javex Cup.