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.


What is your Handicap

And more importantly how is handicap index determined

If a golfer were to shoot 20 consecutive rounds of even par on a par 72 golf course with a course rating of 69.6 and a slope of 123 would his handicap index be  0?

The answer is no, his handicap index would be 2.1.

So, what about if another golfer who also played 20 round of golf on the same course and shot 1o rounds at even par, and the remaining 10 rounds were scattered between 73 and 82.  What would his handicap index be?

It would also be 2.1.

Why is that you ask?  Well, it’s because for handicap purposes the accepted practice is to use the best 10 out of your last 20 rounds for handicap calculation purposes and the best 10 rounds out of their last 20 were the same for both golfers.

So if the 10 scores used for handicap calculation purposes  were all even par why is the handicap index not 0?

The answer is that a formula laid out the Golf Canada is applied and that formula stipulates that the course rating and not the par for the course be used to calculate the handicap index.  In the case of the above two examples it would work like this:

The differential between the score shot and the course rating is calculated for each round used for handicap purposes.  In this case the differential for each round was the gross score minus the course rating (72-69.6=2.4) as the scores were all the same.

In real life the calculation would be done for each round, they would then be added up and divided by 10 to obtain an average.  That number is then multiplied by 113 which is the slope rating assigned to golf courses that are of average difficulty (113 x 2.4=271.2)  This product is then divided by the slope rating for the course in question 271.2/123=2.2

The last step in applying the formula is to multiply 2.2 by .96 which yields a handicap index of 2.1

The good thing for golfers is that you don’t need to do any of these calculations.  All you need to do is to enter your score into the computer and the handicap software looks after the rest.

So, if your handicap index is 2.1, the average of your best 10  out of your last  20 games playing off the white and red tees at The  Wildewood Club should be 72.

How Many Sets of Golf Clubs Do You Have

A few of my ‘extra’ clubs


For those who have golfed with me over the years this will come as no surprise. One of the things I really enjoy is either changing out my entire set of clubs, or at least of few of the clubs in my set with great frequency.

Why you may ask?  When you play as much golf as I do you need to do things that stimulate continued interest and concentration and changing clubs does that for me.

As well, there are times when I configure my set in keeping with the course that I will be playing.  For example, if I’m playing at Wildewood, which is a relatively short (6048 yards) course that has a lot of trees and ball positioning off the tee is of prime importance, I might opt for a low lofted (13 degree) 3 wood to use for tee shots on some of the shorter and narrow par 4’s.  I might also remove one of the longer hybrids and substitute an additional wedge.  At times I will even remove my regular driver from the bag and use a 12 degree ‘mini driver’ for accuracy purposes.

When playing a longer course such as Bridges where distance is more important and lack of accuracy is not as severely punished I might again remove my regular driver and replace it with a longer driver with an overall length of 47 and 7/8 inches to add distance off the tee.   I might also pull out one of the wedges and add a low lofted (17 degree) hybrid.

Other times I might simply swap out my entire set of irons either just for a change or to compensate for some temporary anomaly in my swing.  If for example I go through a phase where I’m drawing my irons I may use a set of forward progressed irons that tend to promote a slight fade, or conversely if I’m fading the ball I made used a set of irons with a slight offset to promote a straighter ball flight.

At times my swing may get out of whack and if I find I’m hitting a lot of fat (club makes contact with the ground behind the ball) shots or when the course conditions are wet and sloppy I’ll revert back to a set of irons that consist entirely of hybrids.

On other days when I’m just feeling adventurous I may bring out a set of irons that are all the same length, with heads that all have the same weight.  This type of club allows you to position the ball identically for each club as the only thing that changes from club to club is the loft angle.  This means you are able to use exactly the same swing with each club.

So how many sets of clubs to I have, well right now I have 5 sets of irons and an assortment of drivers an fairway wood in different combinations of loft and shaft length, a descent collection of hybrids in different lofts, an assortment of wedges and a few putters.

This array of clubs allows me to configure different set of clubs to suit my game, the course I’m playing or just the mood I happen to be in.

Does anyone else do this?