The Wildewood Golf Club, a hidden gem

wildewood 6This is the  135 yard second shot that faces you on the 6th hole.  If you have arrived at this position it means you avoided the trees left and right, and did not roll through the end of the fairway.

The Wildewood Golf Course located on North Drive in  Fort Garry  is a gem of a little golf course.  I say ‘little’ only because it is a nine-hole course that is not particularly long at 6048 yards.  I’ve had friends scoff at the idea of playing Wildewood, calling a ‘short little goat track’.  I’ve frequently countered with an offer that if they can break 90 on the ‘goat track’ the first time they play it I’ll pay their greens fee and if they can’t break 90, they buy lunch.  Over the past 25 years I’ve enjoyed many excellent lunches.

So how can a course that plays at 6048 yards, has no water hazards and a limited number of bunkers be difficult?  Don’t let the yardage fool you.  Because of the design of the course and the strategic placement of trees, a number located in the middle of fairways, it plays longer  than the stated yardage and requires a unique approach in terms of scoring.

Wildewood has trees.  I mean literally hundreds if not thousands of trees.  And they are not little trees, we are talking mature elms  and oaks many in the range of 40 to 50 feet tall. Apart from the aesthetics, these trees provide shade and serve as a buffer on windy days.

When I first joined Wildewood in 1990 one of the old timers who has since passed, advised me that either of two things would happen:  Either I would learn to hit the ball straight or alternatively I would quit the game.  I still don’t always hit it straight but neither have I quit the game.

Wildewood is a regulation par 72 course with four par threes, 10 par fours, and four par fives.  What makes it play longer is that for longer hitters the driver is not a good option on most of the par 4’s.  Because  you end up hitting a 3 wood or hybrid (if you are playing strategically) on the par 4’s you end up giving up anywhere from 30 to 50 yards on each of the par 4’s as compared to a wide open course where you can flail away with your driver on all the par 4’s.  Virtually every fairway is tree-lined, on both sides of the fairway.  In the case of the doglegs, tee shots must be curved to prevent entering the trees at the end of the fairways.  These factors make it a difficult course to score on until you understand the course and develop a scoring strategy.

Since first joining Wildewood in 1990 I’ve made my way around the course an estimated 3500 times.  That is a lot of golf, but it’s also a lot of years and in those years I’ve managed to reduce my handicap from the 15-18 range down to the 3-5 range (and I’m stilled married to the same woman).

If you have not played Wildewood you need to.  Over the past several years the course has been very well maintained and it provides some unique challenges that few others courses can equal in terms of  the scoring strategy required.

In a subsequent post I will detail some of the strategies I use to score on Wildewood.

 

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6 thoughts on “The Wildewood Golf Club, a hidden gem

  1. kim GERARD

    I’m looking forward to playing Wildewood – I’ll see if I’m better on my strategy… We have quite a few courses with losts of trees …. and doglegs…. sounds like fun and I’ll play for who’s paying lunch!!! Thanks for your article . Kim GERARD

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    1. Menno Zacharias

      Hey Derick: There are a lot of people who have never played the course. Back in the day Wildewood was one of the sites used for the Jack Blair Memorial qualifying (its now the Manitoba Match Play Championship). It was interesting to see that many of the better players in Manitoba actually scored better at Pineridge than they did at Wildewood. That attests to the need for a different strategy and the benefits of local knowledge.

      So, if your handicap is around 10 or better and you approach it the right way you might just break 80.

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  2. Al Brownridge

    Hi Menno
    Back in 1977 I lost in the finals of the Jack Blair – now the Manitoba Match Play Championship. The matches were at Niakwa and I lost to a club mate of mine – the late David G Kriucik. But the qualifying rounds were at Bel Acres,where we played the back tees which stretch the course out to close to 7000 yds and Wildewood. I shot 74 at Bel Acres and 80 at Wildewood. As you point out Wildewood was always one of the qualifying courses while the second would vary. As I recollect most guys always had higher scores at Wildewood.
    Al

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    1. Menno Zacharias

      Thank you for your comment Al. It makes me realize how long you have been playing competitive golf at a high level. Back in 1977 I had just taken up the game and my scores were well north of 100. Unfortunately some of the mature elm trees that were pivotal to the challenge of the course have succumbed to dutch elm disease. I don’t feel the course plays as difficult now as it did in the past but for most players there is still lots of challenge left.

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