NCGT Match Play Final Report – September 6, 2014
With summer evolving into fall, The NCGT Match Play final was scheduled for September 6th. Looking for a special course to play on, the finalists (Mike O’Connor and Dave Colbeck) decided on the beautiful Club de Golf Islesmere (see write up at the end), a parkland course built in 1919 – tight fairways, plenty of trees, elevated greens, and strategically placed sand and water hazards – Truly a shot maker’s course fit for the Fin
The Game Before the Game
So on a rainy Saturday morning, Mike and Dave, accompanied by Mike’s brother Matt and a previous NCGT match play champion Mike Krewski (who will be known as MK to differentiate from Mike the finalist), loaded up and headed out on the two hour drive buoyed by the weather report that the rain was supposed to stop about an hour before their tee time and the afternoon was to be nice and sunny. After an uneventful drive, they parked under a steady downpour. Even the proshop staff asked if they were going to golf. Having seen the beautiful parkland setting of the course, even with the rain, it was a resounding yes.
The Very WET Front Nine
Standing at the first tee on the Mattice (Blue) course (a long Par 5), rain gear on and umbrellas up, the initial tee shots were just a little sub-par (with the exception of MK who split the fairway). It was not the best of holes, however Mike’s recovery from under the trees set up his approach to the green and a win on the first hole. The second hole, a shorter par 5 was a bit harder on Mike, however he still came out ahead and held a two hole advantage after two. The third hole, a nice Par 3, was halved and Dave made a fantastic approach shot on the next par 4, to cut the lead to one after four holes. Number 5 was a spectacular par 3 with water and a huge saddle in the middle of the green. Mike made a fantastic shot finishing about 3 feet from the hole. Dave chipped across the top of the saddle and finished up about 15 feet from the hole. With Dave missing the putt and finishing with a four, Mike made his first putt and the hole was conceded. Back to two up after five. Hole #6 was halved and with Dave missing his putt on #7, Mike had a three shot lead. #8 was halved and Dave, making a sand save and his extra stroke, won #9 to close the gap to two after nine.
At the Turn
Two things happened on #9. First of all the rain finally stopped. It had been drizzling on and off during the front nine with MK taking his jacket off numerous times before putting it back on. Mike and Dave had abandoned theirs a while back, along with rain gloves, and finally all of the golfers were free of their rain gear. Blue sky was starting to poke through and things were looking up. One thing about the course though, even with all of the rain, and some standing water in a couple of fairways, the course did not feel wet. The fairways were not sloppy, and although the greens were soft and receptive, they were fantastic, fast and true. The second thing that happened is that food and drink were grabbed at the turn (ok, this is not that important, but it did happen).
Sunshine on the Back Nine – The Anderson (White) Course
Starting the back nine two down, Dave again used his extra stroke to take #10 and cut the lead to one. Building on this momentum, Dave won the next two holes to go up by one after 12. #13, a long par 3 playing about 200 yards downhill was halved with both Mike and Dave making long par putts. #14 and #15 were also halved and Dave went into #16 with a one hole lead. An unfortunate bounce on his second shot opened the door for Dave to take a two stroke lead into #17, a 190 yard par 3. Dave’s second sand shot (he left the first one in the trap) left him with a 2 foot putt for a four and the win, finishing 3 and 1.
All said and done, it was a great day of golf on a great course with some great people. Playing the back nine in the sunshine was fantastic, and the course was amazing. The course requires that you make your shots. Misses will penalize you, although not overly severely. The greens (almost all raised with gorgeous bunker complexes) are smaller, however fast and true. The fairways have very few flat spots with swales and mounds everywhere. It is a great test of golf and if you get a chance to play it, you should.
About the Course
Established in 1919, Islesmere has held many professional tournaments over the years, including the men’s and women’s Canadian Opens, two Canadian PGA Championships, the Quebec Open, and the Montreal Open. Past winners of these events include Willie Lamb, Bob Gray, Stan Leonard, Moe Norman, Doug Ford and Byron Nelson. Nelson’s win at the 1945 Montreal Open included a course-record 63 and the victory was part of his record 11 consecutive wins that season.
Written by Dave Colbeck