Aug
20
2018
Volume
6-5

Rotary Links: A Family-Friendly Golf Course

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Its 10 days before the July 1, 2018 grand opening of Rotary Links Golf @ Wood Buffalo, which is a current nine-hole links golf course located near the Fort McMurray International Airport.

Its creation is still unfolding.

Stephen McConnell of Edmonton’s The Golf Cart People is busy assembling 38 newly purchased state-of-the-art golf carts. Carts that will have Global Positioning System along with, get this, attached coolers.

A group of workers are finishing off the inside of the club house, a five-trailer unit.

Busy on the cell phone, Rotary Links Golf (RLG) general manager Brent Mackay walks toward this writer for introductions.

A strong handshake, Mackay, 36, is full of energy. No stranger to the local golf scene, he was associate professional at Fort McMurray Golf Club from 2011-2017, Mackay starts up golf cart No. 37 for its inaugural ride as we tour the RLG for the next 40-minutes.

Viewing the first four holes, it is a wide-open course, or at least appears so.

“The first few holes appear open to the eyes as there is no tree line,” says Mackay, a common factor on links courses.

For what it lacks in tall timber (Hole No. 5 is the first opportunity in which a slice may have you searching for lost balls in the woods) it makes up in the magnificence of undulating mounds, interconnecting ponds, well-manicured fairways and large greens.

With a yardage total, ranging from 7,330 yards to 5,372 yards, depending on which of the five tee boxes you make usage of, be it the black, blue, white, gold or green, “The course was designed from the architect’s perspective to enable golfers of all skill levels to take advantage of how the course is laid out,” said Mackay of the Les Furber conception.

The bunker complexes will remain sandless for the 2018 season.

“All of our bunker complexes have not been filled in with sand as yet. For one reason, we want to see how the difficulty of the course will play. We want to talk to the golfers and see if there is a need to fill in a few of them or all of them. Most people, struggle with hitting out of the sand.”

Each hole has its own unique challenges, for example the par-four No. 3:” It is beautiful how it is designed. It is our signature hole.  For long hitters it will be a risk reward scenario.”

An additional three interior holes will be constructed to expand to 12 holes by 2020 said MacKay.

The rest of the 18-hole course will be built in phases.

“We want to see how well the golf course is received. If the golf course is successful and we see a lot of play, our construction schedule will mirror that,” said Mackay.

According to their website the “Rotary Links Golf @ Wood Buffalo is a community project, established by the Rotary Club of Fort McMurray. We focus on providing a venue for recreational and social interaction in the Wood Buffalo Region that exceeds the expectations of all our guests.”

Their mission is “continuous regional growth measured not only by our financial successes but in our ability to build goodwill and friendships that benefit all of Wood Buffalo.”

In conclusion Mackay said “We are big enough to have three courses in Fort McMurray. Golfers have been a little spoiled with the closeness and proximity to the other golf courses.  For us (RLG), once people come out and play, they will see that it is worth the extra 15 minutes or so to drive.”

Rates per nine-holes vary from $15 to $30. Memberships for 2018 will be limited to 80.

 

For more information and to book your tee time call 780-743-9377 or visit rotarylinksgolf.com.

CURTIS J PHILLIPS

Curtis J. Phillips has been a sports journalist in print/electronic mediums since 1976. A strong advocate of volunteerism, he is a founding father of numerous local events and organizations including the Challenge Cup and Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Phillips is also recognized internationally as a sports historian.

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