Harbourview, a merger, a very rich caddie and more

Harbourview Golf & Country Club

Back in the 60s and 70s, if you lived in Southern Ontario and played golf, chances are you often heard about Moe Norman and Golf Haven. That’s where the legendary ball striker played, practiced and hung out.

Golf Haven eh. Where’s that? Well, it’s in Gilford. Oh Gilford. Right. Where’s that?

Glad you asked. Gilford is a small town on the southwestern shore of Lake Simcoe, about 15 minutes south of Barrie. And Golf Haven is now known as Harbourview and is on the main road into town. The course originated in the 1950’s and was purchased by the Watson family in 1996, when the name was changed.

Harbourview itself is something of an enigma. The course is flat as a pancake and described as having tree-lined fairways. While that’s true, it’s not quite that simple. Trees do flank the fairways but not in an intimidating way. The corridors are pretty generous but there are a lot of dog-leg holes and holes that turn a bit. Sometimes those trees that look like they’re out of play, suddenly become obstacles if you find yourself on the wrong side of the fairway.

Water comes into play on many holes too but not in an obvious way. There are no lakes or even large ponds – just small ponds and wetlands. And a damn creek that sneaks up on you and grabs your ball when you didn’t even notice it was there.

At 6,200 yards from the tips, Harbourview isn’t long but can’t really be overpowered either. Because of the doglegs, precision is key and often takes driver out of your hands. One can imagine Moe playing tick-tack-toe with his precise ball-striking.

The large Harbourview greens are generally open in front and readily accessed, while shallow bunkers flank the sides. Some of the greens resemble upside-down dinner plates with gentle roll-offs all round and a pretty flat putting surface in the middle. Others have more slope, tiers and contours making me wonder if they were constructed at a different time. Regardless of style, all of the greens held well and were in great condition.

I generally don’t like to criticize course design because I consider it an art and every creation will have fans and detractors. However, the 17th hole, in my opinion, is just plain silly. It’s a short par-4 (350 yards) that is shaped like a big hook. I hit a pretty good drive and had about 90 yards to the green. However, I could barely see it through the forest and had no hope of going over the trees. I walked ahead 80 yards until I had a clear view of the green. That would have meant I needed a drive of over 300 yards just to glimpse the flag. I don’t have that shot. In the end, it was driver, wedge, wedge to work my way around the trees – a true three-shot par-4. Maybe back in Moe’s day, those trees weren’t there. If anyone has a different view of this hole, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Harbourview won’t knock your socks off with majestic views and dramatic elevation changes. As noted, it’s flat but it does require you to think and play strategically. And if you’re like me and enjoy smacking the ball around with a good friend in a pleasant setting, it’s a great walk.

For more information on Harbourview click HERE.

Special Edition

It’s not often we do a second Round Table in a week but the startling news that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf were merging forced us to bring out a Special Edition. I was on the course at Harbourview when my playing partner alerted me to the news and of course I thought he was pulling my leg. Obviously not, as the merger has overshadowed just about everything else in the world of professional golf. Couldn’t they have announced this another time and not during RBC Canadian Open week?

Still lots to unpack here and plenty more to come. It will take some time to sort it all out but as story after story spilled out with new bits and pieces and a multitude of opinions, it became clear that pro golf is just like politics. Everyone has a side, and everyone seems to have their own set of facts. Apparently, the Saudis won. No, no, the PGA Tour won. Greg Norman is out. Norman says everything will continue. Jay Monahan is in charge. Yasir Al-Rumayyan is in charge. And the beat goes on.

Hopefully, we got the facts right, but our panelists certainly don’t all agree on everything, especially winners and losers. You can read our Special Edition Round Table HERE.

Hovland wins Memorial, becomes a caddie

Last week on the PGA Tour, Viktor Hovland won a thrilling battle at Muirfield Village Golf Club to claim Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament and a first prize of $3.6 million. It was the biggest win of Hovland’s career and moved him to #5 in the World Rankings. Pretty rarefied air.

But on Monday morning, Hovland was toting a bag and raking bunkers for his former Oklahoma teammate Zach Bauchou, who was playing a 36-hole qualifier for the U.S. Open. It apparently started as a bit of a joke, when Bauchou suggested to Hovland at dinner on Saturday night that he caddie for him on Monday.

“I will”, said Hovland. And despite the win, the big payday and all the celebration that surely followed, Hovland showed up early Monday for his friend. Unfortunately, the presence of a world class player on the bag wasn’t enough for Bauchou and he failed to qualify. No word on what he might have paid Hovland for his efforts.

They Said It

In less than a year, the Saudis went from disruptors to forcing a complete capitulation that laid the PGA Tour’s moral high ground to waste. From top to bottom, they own professional golf now. Dan Wolken / USA Today

Peter Mumford
Peter Mumford is the Editor of Fairways Magazine. He's played over 500 different courses in 21 countries and met some fascinating people along the way. He's also a long-suffering Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

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