This week we look at another flat-land course in the heart of the prairies, near the village of Roland, home of 4-H Manitoba and the land of giant pumpkins.
Established in 1958 as Elm Park, this week’s facility has evolved from sand and oil greens and dry fairways into one of Manitoba’s most picturesque nine-hole courses. Welcome to Roland Golf Club.
Most nine-hole courses this year have had challenges with their fairways owing to the drought Manitoba’s facing this summer. Roland’s fairways, however, are luscious and green. The club updated its fairway irrigation systems during the course’s most recent hole redesign in 1997. To supply that system, the club manages its water reserves well. The greens and tee boxes are also in good, emerald health. During the aforementioned redesign, three new greens were created, and five holes were redesigned from the 1980s layout. This relatively-new set of links plays out as a par 36.
There are many beautiful holes on this course, but the first is probably the club’s signature challenge. By yardage alone, a heavy hitter might be tempted to start the day with a long-drive birdie attempt on this par 4.
That may not be the best strategy.
The wide-open fairway has thick bush on either side that funnels the fairway to a narrow opening just before a 15-foot gully drop. A water hazard awaits you at the base of the wide and shallow green, and its significant slope from back to front keeps the water hazard fed with downhill rolling golf balls.
The second and third are two of the new holes, a par 3 and par 5 respectively. These holes are relatively straight forward, compared to the fourth. This par 5 requires your tee shot to clear a water hazard, a gully, and a stand of old oaks, all before exposing itself as a severe dogleg right. Go left off the tee, and you can forget finding your ball. If you go to the right too soon, you’ll have a creek, oak trees, and changing elevations to complicate your ball search.
The fifth is a par 3 that has a green surrounded by bush, tucked into the right end of the fairway. Shots going right will be tough to find. Trees line the right on this hole and, like all the tree-lined fairways on this course, a river runs through it. So, if the bush doesn’t obscure your ball, the duckweed-covered waters will.
You get to see this firsthand making your way to the sixth tee, as you have to go across the river and into the bush to make your tee shot. The seventh hold is a par 4 version of the fifth, but this green has a significant rolling ridge making putts from left to right either spectacular or frustrating. No. 7 also shares a horseshoe sand trap that overlaps the fairways of holes 7 and 8. The location of this trap is just about where an average, left-drifting drive would land, from either hole. The eighth hole has one of the new greens; it is a large two-tier, back-to-front monster that’s easy to get to but tricky to read.
Coming home is a par 5 that has bush and water jutting themselves out into the middle of the short stuff, midway down the run. Along the right, a beautiful prairie field just happens to be the out-of-bounds line.
The clubhouse is on the smaller side, but it offers a great tasting menu. Green fees are reasonable but the memberships are the real bargain at this club. An adult membership starts at just $390 for the season.
Although there are few elevation changes, walking this course is a long endeavour. Riding carts are available for rent. Visit www.rolandgolf.ca or call 204-343-2409 for a tee time.
Out on the Back Nine
Ryan Desjarlais is a high school physics teacher looking to shed some light on rural golf. This summer, he’ll feature a different rural course each week.