Golfers prepare to hit the links

Normally, by the middle of May, golf season is in full swing across York Region.

Markham, in particular, has some of the most challenging and popular golf clubs and courses in the country.

“Markham is the perfect spot for golf courses,” says Terry Kim, the Director of Golf at Markham’s Angus Glen Golf Club. “It is just far enough from downtown city life that people feel that they are getting away, but close enough that it isn’t too far a drive.”

Of course, 2020 has been anything but normal so far. Living under emergency orders from all branches of government has left all social and outdoor life in limbo.

All of Markham’s courses havd been delayed from opening. In addition to game play, hundreds of events, ranging from fundraising to weddings have already been cancelled. Some have been rescheduled for the fall out of an abundance of hope that they might proceed, but the future is anything but sure at this point.

Nevertheless, there is hope for golfers as golf is among the first activities that return to daily life in Ontario.

With this hope in mind, any conversation about golfing in Markham has to start with Angus Glen. Established just 25 years ago, it has already built a rich history to go with its two 18-hole courses.

“We hosted two Canadian Opens (PGA), 1 LPGA Open, the Telus Skins Game, a World AM JR Girls Championships and the PAN AM Games in 2015,” explains Kim.

Despite this national and international notoriety, Angus Glen is still focussed firmly on its own community.

“From the moment you come through our gates,’ says Kim, “from the golf course, through our restaurant and our pro shop, we receive many compliments from guests that they were greeted with a smile and treated with top service.”

However, Angus Glen is hardly Markham’s only choice.

The Bushwood Golf Club has two quite different courses to choose from. They have an 18-hole par 72 and a 9-hole, par 30, executive course. The Upper Unionville Golf Club offers an 18-hole par 71 with lots of amenities, including a “flex” membership that promises to take into account the needs of today’s working family.

Perhaps the course in Markham with the most interesting history is at Markham Green Golf Club.

“The golf course dates back to the 1950s when it was an exclusive, private club named Box Grove,” says Scott Haynes, PGA Pro and Managing Partner at Markham Green Golf Club. “IBM purchased the property in the 1970s and owned it until 1996 when it was sold to developers and all but nine holes of the property were developed into a residential community.”

Despite the history of development nearby, the course is still nestled in the scenic Rouge Valley.

“On a daily basis, our golfers encounter a family of deer, wild fox, and many other animals roaming the property,” continues Haynes “ It is truly a beautiful piece of property in the heart of Markham.”

Despite the delay in starting the season, the courses are ready to go.

“We have been maintaining the golf course to its high standard since April to keep the turf healthy,” Haynes says.

“The preparation this year has been focusing on safety of guests and staff once we are able to open.” Kim says. “The community can expect Angus Glen to be there for them for their golfing needs.”

Safety is obviously a more complicated concern this year, as well.

“We will have many precautions in place to ensure the health and safety of our guests,” explains Haynes about Markham Green. “A bigger gap between tee times, single rider power carts as well as many other implementations to ensure physical distancing are being adhered to should allow us to resume our operation in this new normal environment.

Certainly these precautions and more will be adopted by all the courses in the area, and across Ontario.

“The safety of our guests is the number one priority,” Kim adds.

Photo: A fairway at Markham Green Golf Club.
Inset: Local golfer Michael Ashfield plays the par 3 third hole.

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