Niagara Falls now has a serious contender in Windsor for anyone who wants to golf and gamble. I must admit that in the past, Windsor has always been a pass though city for me on my way to some other destination. My last trip to this area has convinced me that this is to occur no more!
Our brief layover began at the Caesar’s Windsor. After leaving our car with the free valet parking, we checked in to an awesome room with 2 queen size beds, wall-to-wall full height windows, and an incredible view overlooking both the Detroit River and the Detroit cosmopolitan skyline. (Sometimes it just doesn’t seem right that this is considered “work.”) We weren’t quite certain that Lady Luck was on our side that night, so my travel companion and I walked down the street to a local favorite, Papa Cheney’s Whiskey Bar for a cool beverage. A great spot to watch sports and eat chicken wings!
The next morning brought a short 8 minute drive to the course. The Ambassador Club opened in 2005 and was immediately nominated the “Best New Golf Course in Canada” by Golf Digest and OG Magazine. In 2008 OG Magazine named it the #1 “Best Bang For The Buck” in Ontario, and I can see why! You can play here for $45CAD during the week and $55 on weekends plus $10 for a power cart including taxes.
Tom McBroom is one of Canada’s top Golf Course Architects, and once again has proven that he is able to design a great layout on any piece of property – in this case a very flat chunk of land across from Windsor Raceway. Since the only elevation changes here are man-made, McBroom has done an imaginative job of carving and mounding interesting and challenging holes that are surrounded by nasty fescue. What this course lacks in trees, it more then makes up for in strategically placed bunkers (…and did I mention the fescue?). The day we played we were treated to sunny skies and gentle cooling breezes, but Head Professional, Dave Findlay claimed that the night before the course “got 3 inches of rain in just over an hour,” yet most of the fairways drained well, and all the bunkers were in great shape.
From the tips, The Ambassador Club measures out a 7,033 yards with a course rating of 74.3 but a slope rating of only 129 (hard to believe). Trust me, this course will definitely toughen up when the wind blows – as it usually does.
The first two holes are harmless enough par 4’s, as long as you keep your tee shots on the fairway and you land your mid-iron approach shot on the right part of the green. The putting surfaces are very large here and we were forewarned “don’t leave a missed putt on the high-side as you may be looking at a three putt.”
Hole #3 is where the Ambassador Club starts to show it’s teeth. This hole is a reachable par 5, however McBroom has placed a series of deep-faced bunkers down the right side of this dog-leg right that, if you don’t hit just right, will eliminate any chance of going for this one in two. I learned this the hard way! With a well-placed drive, you are stilled faced with a second shot that has water stretches the entire way to the green. A lay-up would be prudent here!
The tee shot on the picturesque #4 is definitely intimidating, especially if you just dunked one in on #3. But remember, there is a larger landing area than meets the eye – even though all you can see from the tee is a sliver of a fairway over a very large pond.
I think my favorite hole might be #15. A very short risk/reward par 4, that is reachable from the upper tees blocks, yet you still have to carry your drive over water to reach a very tough green. This type of hole is great if you’re playing in a Texas Scramble; as long as the first person in your foursome can place one in the fairway, then the rest of you can try and go for it. Again be warned, a well-conceived layout can come back to haunt you if you do not strike it well, since McBroom has lined the fairway with bunkers and no matter what club you select, sand does come into play.
This has to be one of the best conditioned courses I have ever played. A few of the holes seemed similar to those already played, but given what McBroom had to start with, that makes this course even more incredible.
Whether you coming for the weekend, or passing through on your way to Michigan, make sure you stop and play The Ambassador Golf Club. You will not be disappointed!
To book your tee time call the Ambassador Golf Club at 1-519-966-2425 or visit their website at www.ambassadorgolfclub.com
By Dave Finn (dave @ golfinn.com)