Tough course challenged Muskies at OFSAA

Dan Falloon

Getting the chance to play on an exclusive course, with $30,000 per year memberships, very well may end up being a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the Muskie boys’ golf team.
However, the pricey Barrie Country Club course also led to some tough times at the all-Ontarios for the black-and-gold, who finished 17th out of 20 teams with a team score of 74 over par.
Fort High had qualified for the provincial tournament, held on Oct. 13-14, after capturing the NWOSSAA championship in Geraldton on Sept. 30 with a team score of 308.
Team member Ryan Mosbeck noted the greens in Barrie, in particular, caused some consternation for the Muskie contingent as they were cut quite short, making it difficult to keep shots on the putting surface.
“The green speeds were cut right down to PGA speed,” stressed Mosbeck, who had a two-day total of 181 to finish at 37-over.
“There were spots on the greens where you had to hit it in the right spot or else it was off the green.
“It would just roll back off.
“They were tough to get down,” he noted. I didn’t get them down all week.
“I played well, but I couldn’t putt on those greens,” Mosbeck added.
Part of the reason for the team’s struggles is that the greens they play on tend to be a little longer and slower.
“We don’t ever see a course like that. That was the main thing,” he remarked.
“Down here, the greens are a lot slower than that.
“I was practising and never really got to know what a green speed like that was,” he admitted.
Mosbeck said the quick greens affected him on other spots of the course as chipping on proved to be tougher than normal.
“You were worrying about getting a good shot on the green,” he noted. “The greens wouldn’t spin, either, so your ball would always just bounce off.
“I had lots of chip shots that didn’t stop.
Teammate Kevin Jackson, who led the Muskie team with an 18-over 162 to finish tied for 51st overall, agreed with Mosbeck on the course’s difficulty.
“It’s probably one of the toughest courses we’ll see,” he said. “It had the fastest greens I’ve ever played on, tough greens.”
Mosbeck noted some greens were easier to deal with than others, which allowed him to gain a little bit of confidence.
“There were holes where there was a little less slope on the greens, where you made sure you hit a good wedge shot and you could one-putt or two-putt,” he explained.
As well, with fairly steady rain coming down on both days, the greens were saturated and a little slower for Thursday’s second and final round.
The course also brought about a rule change the local golfers were forced to adjust to.
Mosbeck said the team often plays with “winter rules” (also known as “preferred lies”), where players can move their ball slightly in specific, undesirable situations according to local rules.
Jackson added certain features of the course forced golfers to play each ball from exactly where it lay.
“There were lots of trees but no bush, so if you hit it in the trees, you found it and you played it out,” he explained.
“It was tough to play it out.”
“The rough was a little bit longer, and you couldn’t tip up in the rough, move your ball around,” echoed Mosbeck.
“You would just play it as it lies.
“That was a major factor,” he stressed. “Around here, we always just play winter rules, so you can move your ball around before you hit it.
“If you were in a divot or in a rough, you couldn’t hit the right club you wanted.”
Still, Mosbeck was excited by one tougher aspect of the course. He relished the opportunity to get out of a couple of deep bunkers, which don’t tend to be as common around these parts.
“It was definitely a good learning experience,” he enthused. “Just playing a course like that, where there were deep bunkers and actually good bunkers you could play out of.
“Around here, we don’t normally have bunkers that are like that.
“They’re actually deep PGA-style bunkers.”
Jackson noted the 10th hole, in particular, was causing him fits as any shot that didn’t end up on the narrow fairway led to several problems on either side.
“If you didn’t get it in the fairway, it went on the right side and it was an automatic bogey,” he said.
“Both times, I was behind a tree,” he recalled. “Both times, I tried to go over that same tree and both times I hit the tree and it kicked into the hazard.
“It was just that if you went too far left, it was hazard and out-of-bounds, but if you went too far right, you were behind trees,” he continued.
“The fairway was only about 20 yards wide, so it had to be a really, really good shot.
“Both times I didn’t come through.”
Jackson did note he improved on the hole in the second round, recording just a bogey after getting stung with a triple-bogey on the opening day.
In addition to being a tough hole in and of itself, there were other factors surrounding Jackson’s appearance there that compounded its difficulty.
“I was really nervous because the first time around, there were lots and lots of people around,” he recalled.
“[The first] time, I was only three-over, so everyone was watching us, and there was a kid in our group who was two-under.
“The second time around, that was our starting hole and we didn’t have much time to warm up, so I was still a little stiff,” he reasoned.
Jackson was thrilled to get a little advice from overall champion Brandon Ng of Upper Canada College, who, at six-under, was the only player to break par.
With Ng staying in the room right across the hall, Jackson had easy access to some advice heading into the second round, where he shaved eight strokes off his game—going from an 85 to a 77.
“We were talking to him and asking him how he plays and what he does to practice, and all this,” noted Jackson.
“I told him what was going on with my swing. He just pointed out to me in the hotel what exactly to do.
“We actually had a room right across from each other, so it was nice to talk to someone who’s going to go places,” he added.
The other Muskie golfers were Alex McDonald, who carded a 22-over total with an 84 last Wednesday and then an 82 on Thursday, and James Brown.
Brown, in particular, struggled on the first day with a 118. But he easily recorded the biggest one-day improvement in the tournament, slashing a whopping 30 strokes to end up with an 88 on Thursday.
“James Brown, the first day, had a really rough go, and the second day really improved,” enthused Jackson.
“That was a big comeback for him. He was really happy.”
The team was allowed to use the top three scores from each day, meaning McDonald, Jackson, and Mosbeck counted on Wednesday while McDonald, Jackson, and Brown’s scores were used Thursday.
The vast improvement on the second day allowed the team to climb in the standings—moving from 19th on Wednesday up to 17th on Thursday.
Upper Canada College cruised to the title with a team total of 16-over-par, topping runner-up St. Theresa’s by 22 strokes.
Jackson was pleased to have had the opportunity to be the first Fort High team to compete at the all-Ontarios in golf. And while things didn’t go as poorly as they could have, he still thought there were a few strokes here and there that the team could have saved.
“We all didn’t play bad, but we also didn’t play our best,” he reasoned.
Lastly, Mosbeck wanted to send a shout out to the team’s sponsors, who helped them attend OFSAA on short notice.
“I’d just like to thank all of our sponsors for getting us down there and back,” he said.