Joy on the Parkside Nine
2835 Sunningdale Road East, London, Ontario
City of London
Sept 15th 1998
Lise Thibault Tournament
Stroke Recovery Tournament
#9 – Par 4 – 105 Yards – Longest on the course; plays into the setting sun
#5 – Par 3 – 39 yards – Sloping green; trouble on the left
Travis Blake (Course Record of 22)
Five Best Features
The Parkside Nine has to be the best value in golf anywhere. It is free.
The idea to build the Parkside Nine belongs to Mike Olizarevitch with an assist to his Assistant Professional Todd Delmage. They were returning from one of the golf seminars that the City Golf Professionals put on for Parkwood Hospital patients. At some point in the conversation Mike thought of the driving range that was being constructed at Fanshawe which was really an afterthought to the Quarry construction project. He got the idea that it could be turned into a small scale, flat golf course that physically challenged golfers could play on. He told our boss, Bob Neskas about his idea. I can still remember sitting across from Bob in his office when he told me about the idea and asked if it could be done. It was certainly doable and really only involved stretching out the irrigation pipes a bit further. Instantly I thought it was a brilliant idea. Everyone at the City courses was pumped about how well the seminars were going at Parkwood and to take this effort one large step farther and actually built a super accessible course was exciting.
The original plan for the Quarry and Parkside was to have a full service halfway house located near the start of the Parkside and the tenth tee of the Quarry. The halfway house was to have electricity, water service, bathrooms and all of the requirements for food service. Perhaps some year all of that will happen but at the present time, only the electricity is there. Regulatory snags, scarce construction dollars and the logistical nightmare of co-ordinating its operation from a clubhouse so far away have proven to be a challenge. At the present time the Parkside Nine is the greatest value in golf on the planet. Free. Perhaps the full service halfway house will happen someday.
The unquestioned highlight of every year on the Parkside Nine is the Lise Thibault tournament held annually every August since the Parkside was built. It is a memorable sight to see the Parkside with wall to wall golfers, many in wheelchairs. Play on the Parkside has increased dramatically in the past few years, especially in the evenings when families with young children tend to use it the most. This year new 6 inch putting cups were added and they have proven to be a nice addition. The previous year the astroturf mats were replaced with regular gold tees that look much better.
Parkside Nine Scorecard
#9 is the shortest par 4 in London.
Parkside Nine before
Parkside Nine after
Chipping onto #2 green during the Lise Thibault Tournament
Dinner at the Lise Thibault Tournament
The winning team, Lise Thibault Tournament
The Parkside prior to becoming a golf course.
Action at the Lise Thibault Tournament
A difficult start to the Parkside Nine, 1997. Not an ideal site to grow grass.
Lots of great moments out on the Parkside
The “Tee it Up Golf League” for special golfers on the Parkside Nine.
I think that the best thing to do with the Parkside Nine is to leave it the way it is and not charge the public for its use. The City does not provide recreational golf in order to make money although a few times in the past twenty years decisions have been made to treat the golf system like a cash cow. The opportunity of making big bucks off golf in order to prop up other programs in the City just doesn’t exist anymore in today’s crowded golf market.
There is a substantial cost to maintain the Parkside as it is. It still needs to be watered, fertilized and cut and its location almost a mile from the maintenance building makes it a challenge to schedule maintenance activities in the most efficient manner. The logistics and added cost of staffing this remote course means that a lot of money would have to be taken in to make the effort worthwhile. Again it is not all about the money and if this course can be made available at no cost to young families, beginners and golfers with disabilities, then let it happen. Many young children use the course so perhaps it could be considered the ultimate effort to grow the game at the grass roots level. You never know how many of those little rugrats out there will get bitten by the golf bug and end up playing at City courses.
I just have to mention the improvement in the quality of the turf on the Parkside Nine. It takes years to properly grow healthy, thick turf on a site that is a former gravel pit. Maintaining it to a high level was justifiably not a priority with the greens staff, especially with no revenue generation component to balance the input of resources. At any rate in recent years the course has come along well and a round there is easily the biggest bargain in golf. It is impossible for me to tee off on #10 of the Quarry Course at Fanshawe without casting an eye over to some of the cool things going on at the Parkside…….. young families, seniors, rank beginners and physically challenged golfers. The course is also no pushover and the last time I played it I was thankful for the 6″ cups on the greens so that my score wasn’t too high.