As The Shoestring Golfer, I am always looking for new ways to find you more affordable ways to play golf and to enjoy our favourite pastime, without breaking the bank.
What I want to tell you about today is not necessarily a new way to do this, but a way I have been playing golf for many years and one I was reminded of on my recent holiday in Canada.
As on all my travels, I made sure I had my trusty ‘Golfer’s Survival Kit’ with me and while staying with my friend Woody and on our last night in Vancouver, my first golfing opportunity presented itself. He couldn’t get out of work before 5pm, so we made a plan to meet him at the Mylora on Five golf course in Richmond, which was just a couple of blocks from his office and closer enough to the Skytrain Station to only add an extra $8 to the travel expense. We had booked our $18 tee time for just before 6pm, but because we were there and ready to go a bit early, we got out on the course before then.The advantage of only starting at that time, and the main focus of this blog, was our ability to make use of the Twilight Rates on offer. This is a very seasonal occurrence, and something that we in South Africa are not all that used to, as daylight variations in our seasons are not as drastic, but in a place like Canada where the difference between sunset in the summer and winter can be up to five or six hours, it has huge value and can allow you to be on the course until almost 9 or 10pm.
Normally if a club offers twilight rates, they will stop differentiating between nine and eighteen hole green fees at a certain time, charging one flat rate and allowing you to play as many holes as you can before it gets dark, or when the course closes.
I know I have spent many a Friday evening in the summer at Rondebosch Golf Club, in Cape Town, trying to get around before the mountain has totally stolen all the light from the sun, coming down the 8th or up the 18th in almost pitch black conditions to a few bemused faces in the bar who are already on the second or third beer. In terms of value though, the 4pm starting time, couldn’t be trumped. The only downside is the popularity of this time, especially on a Friday, when Capetonians like to knock off work at about 3pm anyway.
Woody and I set off on this Par 57 Executive Course, which is made up of mostly Par 3’s, with the aid of Anastassia behind the camera, on ball watching duty and diligently marking the scorecard.
The round didn’t start too badly for me, although as we neared the end, Woody decided that in order to make it a fairer contest, the first three holes, and the fourteenth, shouldn’t go towards the overall result!
As it always turns out though and no matter the score on the first seventeen holes, the 18th Tee provided a ‘winner takes all’ scenario, made even more interesting when we both hit the green of the 101yard Par 3.
We both stood over our putts, mine at about 18 feet and Woody’s maybe an extra foot or two on top of that. Following his putt towards the hole and watching it go in; he broke out in a celebration reminiscent of Happy Gilmore, having sealed the game. His victory was short lived though and his heart dropped quicker than my ball on the way to the bottom of the cup, as I sunk my putt, carding our only two birdies of the day and levelling the game!
Sometimes bad light isn’t the only thing that stands in your way when trying to complete a round of twilight golf. As the sun gets closer to the horizon and starts to lose its strength, those pesky clouds that have been hanging about all day suddenly become more ominous, blocking out what little light is left and adding to the challenge with some rain. This was the case for my second, and final, round in Canada.
Back in Toronto, I had been offered to play a round with my friend, David. Anastassia was teaching yoga for the afternoon and evening and I was given the go ahead to get in another round. While the budget golf options are few and far between in the Greater Toronto Area, we managed to find a great twilight deal at the Cardinal Golf Club’s newest, and nicest, 18 hole layout, Red Crest. The $40 green fee for our post 5:30pm tee time was half the usual cost to play here and although we only teed off at just after 6pm, we were confident that we would make it around the course by 9pm, when it had been getting dark.
This all changed after the first two holes, when we saw the dark clouds covering the horizon and what had been a perfect afternoon, turned into a less than ideal evening!
It didn’t start to rain until about the 6th hole and it wasn’t coming down to hard, persistent, but not torrential. When we got to the club house after nine, we decided to keep going, not letting the rain dampen our mood, enjoyment of the round or the beautiful golf course, an amazing layout worthy of the Country Club courses I spent a few years working at in the USA.
The level of play wasn’t too badly affected either and we managed keep the ball going straight enough to find it after losing it into in the bad light, if not on the fairway then close enough.
After the 14th we decided to call it a night, the rain was coming down a bit harder and we were down to almost zero visibility. It was only 8pm, so we had done pretty well to get as far as we had, and with the extra hour we were expecting, we would have definitely finished our twilight round. The only casualty of the adverse conditions was my inability to take any photos while out there, but by having a look at their gallery you will see what a beautiful course it is. I wish I could have played there on a good day, not only to be able to post the photos for you, but also for my own collection of beautiful courses.
And with that, my vacation was done and with only a few days in Cape Town before I start guiding my next tour up through Southern Africa and with the bank balance substantially reduced; I think the Shoestring Golfer may need to take advantage of another Twilight Round, if the weather allows it that is!