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Review: Willow Valley Golf Course

By David "Tigger" Shulist,
from Two Guys Who Golf

MOUNT HOPE, ONTARIO - Everytime I drive past a golf course I get excited. I want to stop and play, but often just keep driving on. Not so with the new Willow Valley Golf Course in Mount Hope, Ontario (designed by the renowned Canadian golf course Architect, Graham Cooke & Associates).

When you see Willow Valley from the road, it forces you to stop and look - it is just so awe inspiring - so beautiful - that its impossible to "just drive by".

I recently visited Willow Valley for their "media day" and took along my great friend and golfing buddy from Barry's Bay, Ontario, Owen Recoskie. (Sparky was unable to attend - but will be checking out the course with me on Sunday, June 3 - a 6 AM tee time the morning after his daughter's wedding. It should be interesting!)

As we drove into the course, Owen and I looked at each other and said "Oh, yeah - this is going to be a perfect day". The Club Manager, Ross Bonner greeted us and he was so gracious that we felt as if we were lifetime members there. In fact, the motto at Willow Valley is "The course where everyone is treated like a member!" and it is certainly upheld. The pro shop on site was fully stocked and its knowledgeable manager, Carrie Kennedy was very helpful. Willow Valley has teaching programs and a 6 acre training area to help all levels of golfers with their game. Definitely a first class facility.

Owen and I were paired off with a couple from the St. Thomas Times-Journal, Bev Ponton and Gilles Leblanc (two very courteous & congenial golfers) and throughout our play we found one surprise after another. The Willow Valley course, though only one year old, was in perfect condition.

The greens were fast and the fairways were ample but riddled with enough sand and water hazards to make the course challenging. I needed my "A" game - but couldn't seem to find it.

In fact, our group decided not to let anyone know exactly how we did on the course (Owen, always a wise man, asks: "You can dress the part, but can you play the part?").

Though our individual scores may have been disappointing, Willow Valley certainly was not. If you live in the Greater Toronto/Hamilton/Niagara area this is a course that should be a regular on your golf schedule.

If you're planning a visit to Toronto or Niagara Falls or are just looking for a great golf experience - the drive to Mount Hope for a round or two (I know Sparky will want to play 36 on this course) is worth it!

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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