When the 2023 Beyond The Contour event series was first released earlier this year, I knew the 36 hole Tasting Flight at Lookout Point could not be missed. I’ve contemplated attending similar United States-based events, but once factoring in the generally higher event price, travel, accommodations, and exchange rate for our Canadian dollar, it can quickly become an expensive proposition.
With Lookout just down the road from me, plus a post round fireside chat featuring Lorne Rubenstein and Jeff Mingay, it was an easy decision.
Here are a collection of thoughts from the day.
The morning began with a hazy sunrise, thanks to an abnormally severe start to the wildfire season. My previous loops around at Lookout Point were in the afternoon, so witnessing the sun rising over the Walter Travis gem while standing atop the escarpment added to the anticipation of hitting the 1st tee shot to the valley below.
Speaking of the 1st tee, I’m always compelled to race towards the tee just to take in the spectacular view. This corner of the property, shared with the 10th tee and putting green, establishes a unique sense of place, a social hotspot with the convergence of golfers warming up, teeing off, making the turn and completing their round.
While mulling around the 1st tee, we were warned to be prepared for the interesting pin positions. Some might say diabolical, but I would say fun. A few that stand out include: back pin on 3 (don’t try it), front left pin on 10 (aim middle and deal with the downhill putt), or back left on 14 (even some seasoned employees haven’t seen that wild pin before).
With the course playing fast and firm, this combined to make the small and intricate greens an “11” on the difficulty (ie. fun) scale. I could have easily spent an hour or two at each green, chipping and putting from every sort of lie imaginable.
We were also informed the afternoon would feature reconfigured tees. The variety was noticeable and enjoyable, especially the few holes that were tipped out. This is a reminder how fun it can be to mix up the tee boxes you play at your home course, even during the same round, if you like.
After sharing a nice lunch with my playing partners on the panoramic patio, it was time to get psyched for the afternoon foursomes (or alternate shot for those on this side of the pond).
This was my first time playing alternate shot, and I have to say, it is an incredibly fun and social format. I love the pace of play, which is perfect for the 2nd round of the day. I can understand why this is the custom for a full day at Murfield.
Alternate shot also creates an interesting dynamic with your playing partner. You get to share the struggle of golf with your partner. “Sorry for leaving you in a bunker, again”. Sharing the great shots is even better. It’s quite the feeling when your partner saves par for the team. Plus, I found strategizing how best to play the hole when compensating for the differences in your partner’s game was an interesting challenge.
Somehow, it’s also easier to sympathize with the other twosome when the inevitable blow up hole occurs. I would imagine this friendly sentiment would be a bit different if playing an alternate shot match. Gamesmanship on overdrive would be the most likely result.
I later came to realize that alternate shot is an excellent way to introduce a beginner to the game. They get some relief by playing from easier positions, and get to observe how the better player recovers from being put into a bad spot. Much lower stress for everyone involved.
More about the second 18. When the tee times were released in advance of the event, I was pleasantly surprised, maybe even a little excited, to be playing with one of the fireside chat guests, Lorne Rubenstein!
I grew up playing golf in the 1990s and I can remember reading and watching anything and everything by Lorne as far back as I can remember. Anyone remember Acura World of Golf?
While the saying goes “don’t meet your heroes”, it did not apply in this instance. Lorne was a pleasure to play with (could there ever be any doubt?). The most surreal aspect of it all was reading—in real time—Lorne’s tweets about the day. Something I won’t soon forget.
Who’s That In The Cart?
Nearing the end of the afternoon round, my playing partner (and fellow Beyond the Contour author Alex Hunter) and I noticed a dude in a cart rolling up the fairway towards our group. He didn’t have any clubs, so it wasn’t a wayward golfer. Could this be a marshal, or a pro? Did we do something wrong? Nope, it was Jeff Mingay!
Fresh off a flight from Vancouver, Jeff preempted his evening fireside chat appearance with a quick tour around the property. Witnessing his enthusiasm as he discussed all the cool things he was seeing in the green complexes, routing and vistas was a delight. What a perfect preview of the fireside chat to follow.
With the event taking place during Canadian Open week and the day after the surprise PGA / LIV announcement, there was a lot to talk about. Thankfully, most of the discussion was focused on golf architecture.
A Few Considerations
Reflecting on my experience, here are a few things you may want to consider when you attend your next event.
Wander the clubhouse (without straying too far into off-limit areas): I couldn’t help myself with all the interesting photos and relics displayed throughout the building. Extra points to the club for the installation featuring club trophies, photos, ephemera and display featuring club legend Marlene Streit.
Chat with staff: Generally they are just as excited as the participants and are more than happy to gush about their club. I didn’t know at first, but during the fireside chat I sat at the same table as the Superintendent and was fortunate to overhear stories of his nearly 50 years at Lookout. The great conditions that day were thanks to him and his team.
Visit the Pro Shop: This is a no-brainer. There is likely something that will catch your eye. Hopefully it’s within your budget.
Overall, the day was superb. An excellent opportunity to play one of the finest Walter Travis designs, while meeting many like-minded golf enthusiasts. A pleasant surprise was part of the event swag, a copy of Lookout Point’s centennial book. For a crowd with golf IQ higher than your typical bunch, this was an excellent complement to an already outstanding day.
Does this sound like a fun day on the golf course? Well, the good news is there are still spots available for the next Beyond The Contour event on September 23 at the Walter Travis and C.H. Alison designed Club de Golf Grand-Mére in Shawinigan, Quebec.
See you there!