Golf Hidden Bargins

Fall 2004 CSANews Issue 52  |  Posted date : May 15, 2007.Back to list

I can't count the number of times I have driven south over the years and unknowingly, along the way, passed by some of golf's greatest values. For years, I travelled all over Canada and the United States with two of my sons who were heavily involved in competitive junior golf tournaments. Everywhere we went, I searched for excellent courses that didn't advertise heavily and, as a result, were able to charge reasonable prices that most of us can still afford. I was, frankly, astounded at what I found and it ended up driving me to produce a book to make this information available to everyone who loves golf as it used to be, and should be, and still is, if you just know where to look. I have tried to give something back to the game that I learned as a child and have loved ever since, and which has given so much to me and my family over the years. Those two boys of mine, incidentally, are now touring professional golfers. There are, as we all know much too well, a lot of courses out there that advertise heavily and offer a good if not great experience, but which have to charge "a lot" to cover their expenses, including the very considerable advertising costs. At the other end of the spectrum are courses that really don't offer much of a golfing experience at all. Unfortunately, you don't find that out until you play. Nonetheless, these courses still charge what turns out to have been exorbitant green fees for what they offer. Finally, there are those "gems" that all golfers love to find, usually just by chance, that provide a really excellent experience at surprisingly reasonable rates and, sometimes, as I discovered, at rates that I hadn't seen since the 1950s. These were the courses that I became obsessed with finding and writing about so that they could be appreciated for the stunning value they provide, and so that everyone who loves this game or golfs anywhere in North America could enjoy them, both for the great golf and the tremendous value that they represent. No matter where you start in Canada to go south, there are fabulous bargain courses along the way. These are frequently relatively undiscovered so often, you will have these courses almost to yourself. How about a former PGA Tour stop designed by the legendary Pete Dye offering conditioning that is at least the equal of any private club, and at which you can play during the week for about $25.00? This is value for your dollar that you will not forget. Or how about a fabulous municipal course designed by the now-famous Michael Hurdzan? He was hired by the municipality to provide a knock-out course that would attract golfing tourists and, as an additional incentive, the municipality subsidizes the green fees. I would personally rank this one with any of the top courses in Canada and when we were there, because we arrived before 8:00 a.m., the green fees were just $8.00! Anywhere else, this would typically cost many times that amount and this type of golfing experience would be difficult to duplicate at any price. I don't know about you, but I really appreciate value these days and I was, frankly, astounded at the number of wonderful "diamonds in the rough" that I began to find everywhere in North America once I began searching in earnest. They are now finally detailed on gorgeous hand-crafted maps for golfers in my new book, "The Best Bargains in Golf." The book was nine years in the making and it has just been published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside in Toronto. By the time you read this, it should be available at Chapters and other bookstores, hopefully everywhere, or through my website at The book is full of what I like to call "golf treasure maps" covering every state and province and is loaded with wonderful photographs, humorous quotes and original sketches. I also insisted that it be spiral-bound so that it would lay absolutely flat when travelling and wouldn't fall apart after a while, as many books do. I'm very proud of this book and I think that you'll like it. It would also, I suspect, be hard to find a better gift for any golfer. In closing, one of the things that I really like about these courses is that there is usually none of the "business" attitude so prevalent these days at the higher-priced layouts. They actually appreciate your business. The golf is just as good and frequently better, as are the attitudes. You can relax and really enjoy the game the way we used to, instead of being rushed around and having, in many cases, to walk across fairways with multiple clubs in hand, never one of my favourite activities! These increasingly rare places preserve golf the way it was and should still be...and offer the type of wonderful experience that has almost been forgotten today. Rekindle your love of the game at these'll love them! I also couldn't resist highlighting my personal favourites..."must play" courses that combine truly exceptional challenge, beauty and affordability. I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you and if you happen to encounter a motor home with "The Best Bargains in Golf" all over it, stop in and say hello. I'd also love to hear from you with information about any other courses offering exceptional value or any after-golf offerings or accommodations that have particularly impressed you, and which I can consider including in the next edition so that everyone can enjoy them.