Grandview shines as new host site
18 OCT 2017
By Brent Long
Click here to view photos from the event.
The move to Muskoka for the 2017 ClubLink Men’s Night Championship had everyone who played wishing that the golf season would last a little longer.
After a summer filled with weekly golf games, friendly competition and fabulous après golf and drinks at their homes clubs, the Men’s Night social scene shifted to glorious Grandview for the year-end finale.
Teams from across the ClubLink family of clubs in Ontario and Quebec waged battle for annual bragging rights, while sharp shooters took part in the pressure-filled ClubLink $500,000 Hole-in-One Shoot Out and big hitters flexed their might in the always entertaining ClubLink Long Drive Final.
Coming off two days of incredible summer-like weather in Muskoka for the ClubLink Men’s Interclub Championship at Rocky Crest and The Lake Joseph Club, where Blue Springs GC and Hautes Plaines GC won division titles, the action swung to the lush, tree-lined Mark O’Meara Course at Grandview for a third consecutive day of fun for many of the competitors.
The fabulous late September weather prevailed once again with temperatures hovering around 30 C and everyone ready to play one of their final games of the season with their good buddies.
“There was a terrific buzz in the air at Grandview for the Men’s Night Championship. You could tell all the guys were excited to be in Muskoka to have some fun and represent their home clubs,” said Mark Tuck, who joined Heron Point Golf Links at the start of the season and qualified for both the Interclub and Men’s Night Championship for the first time.
“I joined Heron Point’s Men’s Night back in the spring and after playing in it for a few weeks and meeting different members, it was clear to me that the camaraderie of the members and the different formatted games brought more to each week than simply my individual game,” Tuck added. “Men’s Night was an awesome experience throughout the summer - a great way to meet the guys and experience the benefits of being a ClubLink member.
Tuck made it to the final of a par-3 shootout at the Men’s Interclub Championship on the Short Course at Lake Joe before teeing it up in the in the $500,000 Hole-in-One Shoot Out at the Men’s Night Championship at Grandview.
“In the par-3 shootout final at The Lake Joseph Club I had never felt so much pressure on a half sand wedge shot from 85yds in my life. Luckily, I hit the green and saved myself embarrassment by making a par,” the 52-year-old added. “That experience really helped me cope with the extreme pressure of standing up in front of 50-plus guys and taking one swing for $500,000 at Grandview. I hit the green from 174 yards, so I was pretty happy. Hopefully I get to return next year and give it another shot.”
Nobody picked up the half million dollars for a hole-in-one in the $500,000 Hole-in-One Shoot Out at Grandview, but Andre Brideau from King’s Riding made it exciting thanks to a terrific shot that rolled to 8’6” inches of the pin. Second place went to Rob Bennett from Grandview at 9’2”, while Don Adamson from Emerald Hills settled for third place at 9’3” – which would have easily won him the 2016 shoot out where the winning shot measured 19’5”!
A few minutes later, long-drive champions from each of ClubLink’s courses, gathered for the second signature event of the Men’s Night Championship, as they brought out the big guns for the 2017 ClubLink Long Drive Final. Facing a slight uphill slope on No. 6 over a rock valley, but with no wind in the air, four of 20-plus qualifiers hit drives over 300 yards to make it to the finals, while two others snuck in just under the mark.
After three more shots in the finals, Ken Brace from Wyndance returned to the champion’s circle for a third time with a blast of 333 yards. He won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014 at The Club at Bond Head where he had a top drive of 338 yards for his second win. Matt Iceton from Cherry Downs ended up second with a poke of 323 yards followed by Paul Barbuto from Bond Head at 313 yards, James Jeon from Caledon Woods at 312 yards, Dave Storoshuk from Glendale G&CC at 286 yards (305 in qualifying) and Graham Card from King Valley at 277 yards, which would have won him the “senior” title if there was one!
After a delicious buffet lunch, the teams teed it up for the main event, the ClubLink Men’s Night Championship in steamy, hot conditions with blue skies overhead – the hottest Men’s Night Championship ever! As the scores in the net better ball came in after a brilliant afternoon of golf, King Valley was crowned Men’s Night Champions for the first time in the history of the championship followed by Emerald Hills in second and Glen Abbey in third.
“This was my first Men's Night Championship and it was a great way to cap off a terrific season. Throughout the summer, the competition and social get-together at King Valley Men’s Night provide a nice escape from the weekly grind of life,” says Brent Walker, who played on the winning King Valley team. “Winning was the highlight of the day, but being with all the guys from across the ClubLink clubs, sharing our favourite golf stories and having the opportunity to unwind is the memorable part.”
“I really enjoyed coming up to Grandview for the day because I never seem to find or make the time to get up to Muskoka during the summer. So just as the weekly golf shindigs at King Valley are a nice break, I turned this into a mini vacation and spent a few days up there,” added Walker, who also took part in the $500,000 Hole-in-One Shoot Out at Grandview. “I actually went first in the shootout and honestly couldn't wait to hit the shot as that par-3 suited my eye. I hit a good shot, but it tailed off on me a bit and ended up just over 20 feet from the pin. But I believe I was one of only eight guys to hit the green, so I’m not complaining.”
“It’s a terrific little adventure, a real nice reward for participating in Men’s Night throughout the summer season,” added King Valley teammate, Graham Card. “We thought it was great to play a different course, to play in Muskoka and we lucked out with the weather. I think it’s great to move it around. Most of us don’t get to the other ClubLink or Muskoka courses enough. The unique character and visuals of the courses make rounds a lot of fun up there. I’m looking forward to finding out where it will be played in 2018, so we can try to defend the title.”