Posted : June 9, 2014
Our blog is chock full of great ideas for fun things to see and do in York Durham and Headwaters. We are always adding new content and updating old posts, but sometimes you might stumble upon something from our vault. If this article has inspired you to hit the road, be sure to double-check that the featured stops in this post are still welcoming visitors.
The Evans family is no stranger to the golf industry in Ontario. Craig Evans, President of Pheasant Run Golf Club just east of Newmarket is proud of his family’s long term commitment to public golf in the Central Counties. During a conversation with Craig, it became evident that this public facility is as much about family as it is about golf.
The course has been a fixture in the Newmarket area since the early 80’s. Built on a piece of land that features stark elevation changes you wouldn’t necessarily associate with Southern Ontario topography. Many are surprised by the landscape when first experiencing the layout. Evans reflects back to the decision by his father Gord to sell the families initial foray into golf at Gormley Green, now ClubLink’s Station Creek, and develop a new course with more character. Located just north of Davis Drive on Warden Ave. in East Gwillumbury, this rolling, heavily contoured landscape provided a spectacular canvas for Rene Mulyaert to sculpt the original 18 holes through dense forests and over and along ridge lines.
Perched atop of the Oak Ridges Moraine the facility now features three nines, dramatic elevation changes, and tricky green sites. Flat lies are at a premium in the narrow fairways, requiring a superb combination of length and precision to score well. Many greens are elevated so correct club selection can be a challenge. The three nines, Uplands, Midlands and Highlands are all different yet all expose the player to the beauty and challenge of this magnificent piece of property.
Highlands features three Par 5’s; Hole 1 is a brute, tightly treed, ending with a massive blind plateau green site. Number 6 is an exacting risk / reward hole, while Number 7 is a long side hill beast. Midlands opens with a vicious, tight, water lined Par 4, and comes home with a calculating, exacting Par 5 ending with a plateau green site. Hole 6 may be the best hole in the entire collection, a dramatic downhill, dogleg left Par 5 that can be played a million ways. Uplands features a gentler roll to the fairways but incorporates tighter lines and tricky ponds as found protecting the signature finishing hole.
The club has some unique initiatives to give “clients” a sense of belonging to something special. Their Red Hat Membership was created to fill a niche. Evans found that many golfers wanted to feel connected to a facility, have the benefits of full membership, but may not have joined with the traditional cost and commitment of annual dues. The Red Hat player pays a modest annual fee, receives discounted green fees, access to the extensive practice area, inclusion in membership events and ultimately feels like they belong to the club. Local clergy to enjoy discounted green fee rates on Mondays. With all the prayers heard from players hoping to hit it straight or looking to drain a thirty-footer for bogey, a little divine intervention may be needed!
Pheasant Run is as much a family as a golf club, a philosophy so ingrained in the daily operations that even the tea biscuits and butter tarts are hand-made using generations old family recipes. Craig, the one time superintendent under father Gord’s tutelage, is now the president and is proud of the facility’s commitment to serve the community, membership and guests. “The vision of our facility is the building of community through the game of golf,” says Evans, highlighting some of the family-style aspects of his facility. A Guest Artist Program lets a local artist showcase their work in the facility, while Craig’s wife Martine takes great pride in tending the magnificent gardens. Being host to numerous weddings held in their cedar-cabin style clubhouse and banquet facilities gives Evans and his staff a feeling of growing the Pheasant Run community.
The facility has had many memorable events over the years, but one that stands out for Evans was to be able to host a movie shoot. Movie buffs will remember that Gene Hackman and Ray Romano had a links duel here in the 2004 comedy, “Welcome to Mooseport.” Evans laughs when recalling the shoot. “It was easy for us to give up one of the nines to suit their needs. It was a lot of fun to have them.” You might even be able to find a few of those errant shots from the movie on your next Pheasant Run experience.
Pheasant Run Golf Club
18033 Warden Avenue,
Written by Rick Parnham
Associate Editor of On The Tee magazine and Tour Supervisor BAGS Junior Golf Tour