Story and Photos submitted by Brendan Troy
Father’s Day is fast approaching and I for one am always stuck on what to get the old man. Do I run my usual course and pick him up a copy of the newest Wilbur Smith book? While that’s always a great gift, I decided this year to lean on some advice from some very good friends of mine. Gifts don’t have to be single things, they should be experiences that can be shared by many. Things turn into stuff and stuff turns into clutter, but an experience is something that lasts forever and takes up no physical space. Experiences help us learn new things and push out of our comfort zones. Experiences create memories.
I decided to take my father golfing, and we headed up to beautiful Bancroft to golf Bancroft Ridge Golf Club. The course is recently under new management and is absolutely a breath of fresh air. Upon landing at the course, the friendly, local staff had us set up very quickly with a cart, course information and a great set of rental clubs for my dad. We were off to the first tee in no time, and the possibility of rain meant we weren’t rubbing elbows with too many fellow golfers. The first tee opens up to the gorgeous course and really allows you to take in the rugged scenery of Bancroft, Ontario.
The course caters itself towards an excellent warm up. Relatively straight par 4’s start you off before a great par 5. Towards the end of the front 9, the par 3’s add up and allow for some work on your short game. The greens ran smooth and were rather level for the most part, though that still can’t help my atrocious short game. While I was on the green in 1 on each par 3, I only had 1 par on the front 9, which paints an excellent picture of my horrendous putting game. As we continued through the holes, my dad was easily knocking the rust off his swing. A few missed shots, in the beginning, transitioned into great approaches and wonderful strikes in the latter half of the day. He shot an honest bogey on a par 3 and he couldn’t have been happier, claiming it was truly his best hole in golf ever!
The course was in surprisingly great shape considering the fairways were blanketed in snow less than four weeks prior. The fairways were vibrant and well maintained and the trees were budding, adding a touch of colour to the scenery. The entire course lays out on a flat expanse underneath towering cliffs in the distance. The course lends itself to the ruggedness of the Bancroft area, a true pleasure to play on. Giant, sweeping white pines ground the course, dotting the rough and bringing a real sense to the size and length of some of the holes. The bunkers seemed to work their usual magic, luring golf balls into their grasp any chance they got and the water hazards were oddly friendly. With some nice cart paths through the trees and some great golf, my father and I enjoyed our time on the course immensely.
For some of us who aren’t true golfers, it’s arguable that the time we spent together was more important than the golf we played. Golf is an excellent way to find some time to spend with family and friends. Partnered with a course that holds a relaxed, welcoming demeanour and a golf course can be a fantastic place to connect. Stuck with my dad for a few hours meant we had a chance to speak about so much, some of which we don’t often talk about. Sports, work and travel were hot topics, but we also found time to reminisce about growing up and speak about exciting aspects of our future. It was a great time golfing and gabbing!
We finished up the round with numbers that were too hard to count and ventured inside to satisfy our hunger. We were greeted by Aaron Webster, the executive chef at the course and were quickly charmed by his easy-going, welcoming nature. He asked us about our round and wasn’t afraid to say that he may even take a few more swings than we did. While that was hard to believe for my father and I, we were happy with his friendly nature. After speaking a bit about ourselves, it was right into the food. We ordered quickly thanks to some great options and were very, and I mean very, pleasantly surprised by the prices that accompanied those options. Unfortunately, we missed gourmet breakfast for an outdated $7.00 (ends at 11:00 AM) and were forced to look at the lunch menu for a steal at $9.75. We both ordered and relaxed by the window to gaze a few more times at those glorious white pines and tall outcrops. Sipping some amazing coffee on the massive patio only improved the experience.
Our meals were served quickly, though that was trumped by how delicious it all was. This was indeed the best surprise of the day; a high-end restaurant snuck into a marvellous golf experience. The restaurant operates as the clubhouse for the course but is also open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They cater for weddings and parties and enjoy gatherings for special events like comedy nights, men’s and ladies’ nights and even chef’s table events. Don’t let the fact that this restaurant is on the course deter you from a wonderful meal and an incredible price.
As my dad and I slowly rounded out the day, we were amazed at the overall value at Bancroft Ridge Golf Club. The green fees are very reasonable, the staff was helpful and a pleasure to deal with and the food couldn’t be beat. This course is a real gem in Hastings County and should be a massive success under the new management of Danny Jackson. Speaking with Danny, it was apparent why he is part of the team running this great club in a new direction. His priority with the course is to create a place for the community. A place to bring people together for a fun day or evening. It’s not about the political correctness and age-old ways of strict golf; it’s about fun and community. If that’s not a refreshing take on golf, I don’t know what is.
Story and photographs by Brendan Troy
As one of our six Local Wanderers exploring Hastings County, Brendan enjoys hiking the trails, family paddling adventures and fishing.
Learn more about Brendan and his adventures as well as the other five Local Wanderers and the excursions they've experienced across the County here.