Can you fall in love with a piece of land? I say yes. For me, it’s the Tarandowah Golfers Club near Avon, Ontario. Years ago, the farmers who owned the property decided that they wanted to build a championship golf course there. They recruited a British golf architect, Martin Hawtree, to create a masterpiece in rural Southern Ontario. And Martin came through.
Tarandowah is a links course, which usually means a track by the sea with dry fairways, deep pot bunkers, wild fescue grass in the rough … and wind. My home way from home has all that, except for waves lapping on the shore. It’s an environment of the heart for me. For the first time in my life, I’ve found a course where I love every hole. All eighteen of them have character, the sense of a unique place in the world. And there aren’t any condo developments surrounding the fairways … just more farm land. The content thrives within a context of peace, lingering and birds on the wing.
I would love to get to the point where the score matters not. Walking on the land does. Hitting some shots that fly off the clubface and touch the sky. Finding the out-of-the-way spots between fairways, high points of land where I can see much of the journey through the front and back nines. A relationship to the earth.
I think of the sixth hole, a honey of a par four with an elevated tee and a big mound of fescue in the middle of the fairway. That’s not a mistake. It’s an opportunity to see that life throws us lots of curve balls. A fine drive that ends up in six inches of grass. A hard fairway that turns a “down the middle” drive into a sideways bounce, plopping my ball into a deep sand trap.
I yearn to find companions who will join with me in seeing the beauty of the holes before having thoughts about the golf swing. People who will pause in wonder on the tees before smacking the little white ball down the fairway. Folks who love Tarandowah … and may the score rest where it does.
I yearn to be a member out there near Avon. To come to the course as the sun rises. To just sit near the 13th green, way out at the far end of Tarandowah, letting the beauty in.
There are over a hundred deep bunkers. What if I wanted to spend time in each of them? Was okay with my ball bouncing into the creek that pops its head up all over the place? Smiled after my final scorecard count was 120? Would that be golf? I think so.