The Masters

I have played golf with many amateur and professional players. One amateur has stayed in my mind for years, I don’t know his handicap or what he shot, and I can’t even remember his name. What I do remember is his golf swing. It appeared painful to produce, let alone reproduce. He seemed to drive the golf ball in the direction that he wanted it to go. On the ninth hole at Morningstar, this golfer flailed at the ball with some kind of hybrid and precisely executed a low fade that worked its way up the narrow neck of land between the water and the bush. He made the ball go there. I watched with some amazement at his ability and, more so, his tenacity. It didn’t seem to matter if his success was minimal. Every shot was given complete effort and attention. This guy loves to play golf and I admire his passion for it. Not good at golf, but a good golfer. It was fun to watch.

Passion. Something all good golfers have. It has nothing to do with handicap or ability. It has to do with the love of the game; the love of hitting a golf ball; the challenge of it; and respecting the difficulty of it. Pure golf.

imagesApril is The Masters, the golf tournament to watch if you are into pure golf. At Augusta National, the game is not so much about money. Prize money is seldom mentioned, if at all. You won’t see any cars floating in the ponds, no billboards. It is about golf. Pure golf. It’s the love of hitting a golf ball; executing a shot that you saw first in your mind; and challenging and defeating fears.

Miracles happen at Augusta during The Masters. Champions, though not unexpected, emerge through mysterious circumstance. It was Mark O’Meara’s first major in a lengthy career. It was a late victory on the down hill side of Jack Nicklaus’ great reign. It was Ben Crenshaw’s emotional monument to his mentor Harvey Pennick. It was Tiger Woods’ record tying exhibition at the age of 22. It was Nick Faldo’s improbable playoff victory over Hoch after the missed 2 footer. And who can forget the monster chip in by Augusta’s own Larry Mize that defeated Greg Norman, The Great White Shark. The details aren’t important. It’s magic, it doesn’t matter how they did it!

The Masters at Augusta National is a special tournament at a very special place. It allows the professional golfer to be a golfer again. Pure and simple. Free of all the commercialism and hype. I think it lets the magic occur and fuels the passion. The players play like they did before they became famous. They play golf for the same reasons that my amateur partner played the other day. The same reason that golfers have played for centuries. They play because they love golf. They wouldn’t want to be any other place on earth that week. They want to be on the golf course challenging the game and their fears. It’s passion and it’s fun to watch!

Ward Stouffer, Director of Golf
Fairwinds Golf Club

You have seen the signs… but what does it mean?

Monday, March 16 was a big day for the Fairwinds community. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) announced that much of our community is a designated Neighbourhood Zero Emissions Vehicle (NZEV) permit zone. Fairwinds is now just one of a handful of such communities on Vancouver Island and one of 50 or so in British Columbia. The use of electric powered, street legal vehicles makes our community just that much more environmentally friendly. The vehicles will also reduce noise levels and, in my opinion, enhance an open and social culture. Maybe most of all it allows a resident to use the same vehicle traveling to and onto the golf course*. This is something that can’t be done legally with a regular golf cart.

Only Transport Canada-approved NZEVs or LSVs (Low Speed Vehicles) are permitted to travel on public roads in these designated zones. Operators must receive a Road Use Permit from MoTI, as well as vehicle registration, license plates, and insurance from ICBC. More information is available on our website.

Golf carts are not street legal ansignd will not be approved. Those that are using an unapproved vehicle should be reminded that their insurance is only valid while playing on the golf course and allows golf carts only to cross public roads. It does not allow for travel to and from the golf course. As the sign indicates, golf cars are not permitted on public roads.

It can be anticipated that with the heightened exposure that comes along with this new zoning and signage, Fairwinds and the rest of the zone may experience increased enforcement. Please be careful out there.

Written by Ward Stouffer, Director of Golf
Fairwinds Golf Club

* Please note that for an NZEV to be brought onto the golf course, the vehicle and operator are both subject to prior approval by Fairwinds Golf Club.

Guest post: Finding Passion Through Pickleball

“I can’t imagine how good you would be without your disability.”

I’ve heard this comment many times in the two and a half years I’ve been playing Pickleball. I’ve also heard, “Are you ok?” “Did you injure yourself?” “Are you in pain?” I can understand why people are curious, as my mobility issues are obvious. At age 31, I suffered a spinal cord injury that left me permanently disabled, technically an incomplete paraplegic.

I’ve entered a handful of Pickleball tournaments since I took up the game, and being around strangers in new surroundings always creates a lot of speculation about what, exactly, has happened to me. Rumours spread – some true, and others not so much. Let’s just say being attacked by a bear is a bit of a stretch!

The truth is, I was golfing and swung the club like I had a million times before and by the time I had finished my swing, my lower body was completely numb. A disc had ruptured and crushed my spinal cord leaving me paralyzed, a rare condition called cauda equina syndrome. I required emergency surgery followed by a month in hospital and six months of rehab to get on my feet again.

Mike is also an avid tennis player.

Mike is also an avid tennis player.

Since my injury in 2005, I had to hang up my golf clubs and leave my job as Director of Golf at a private course. I don’t have the balance and lower body strength to move the ball where it needs to go anymore. While I still enjoy a good round of golf (I can even post a decent score) it’s no longer my passion. I don’t get those butterflies when I head to the course. All those feelings of excitement and joy have been transferred to my new passion: Pickleball!

Post injury, I suddenly went from a high-level athlete to a guy rolling around in a wheelchair. And, like anyone would, I struggled with that reality. My prognosis was all speculation, and after two years I stopped seeing improvements. Defeated, I just gave up. In the years that followed I put on an extra 75lbs. I developed a powerful addiction to alcohol and pain medication and spiraled into a deep, dark mind set.

Recently, I’ve been told I’m the kind of person that people just want to be around, yet back then I was toxic. I merely existed, coasting through the days and years under a black cloud. Thankfully, things have changed. Yes, I am still disabled. I can’t run or jump and I’ll always walk with a limp. I deal with internal issues and chronic pain. Despite this, instead of feeling shame and embarrassment about my condition, I wear my injuries like a badge of honour.

In May of 2012 I had hit rock bottom, so I checked into a drug and alcohol treatment centre. After a life-changing month, I never looked back. While I now live free of my addictions, sobriety and recovery is still a huge part of my daily life. I wouldn’t be writing this story if I had continued down the path I was on. I am proud to say I will be clean and sober three years next month.

As for the 75 lbs, they’re gone too, along with a bunch extra – 135lbs in total! I reached my highest weight in 2010, when I tipped the scale at 360lbs. I look back on those years and feel so sorry for that guy. My whole life I was defined by my athleticism, even putting myself through university on a football scholarship. When that was taken away I totally gave up on myself, and I gave up on life. I don’t think I would have made it through that dark time without the love and support of my beautiful wife, Kristi.

Kristi is a health coach and she could see how much I was struggling, both physically and emotionally. I just wasn’t open to her advice at the time. It put a major strain on us both, and on our marriage. After my month at The Orchard Recovery Centre, I was ready for a fresh start. I had new hope and was prepared to make changes. I walked out the door determined, with the words of my counselor ringing in my ears, “Suit up and show up.” I continue to live by that piece of advice to this day and it has certainly served me well on the Pickleball court. Mike_Bellis_Pickleball

When I returned home, I told Kristi it was time for me to get healthy, and asked for her help. I fully embraced what has become our health program, and had instant results. I was energized. I gained mental clarity and confidence. After a seven year hiatus, I was reminded how my body is supposed to feel. I also welcomed releasing the extra weight that I’d struggled with my entire life – I’m Haida and have always been “big boned”. I wasn’t capable of going for a jog or doing typical workouts, so you can imagine I was pleasantly surprised to find the pounds falling away easily. I did the activities I could manage. I started with gardening and I walked the dog daily. I got a gym membership and rode the stationary bike. I discovered new workouts I could manage involving core and resistance. And, I watched myself transform.

On a rainy night in November 2012, I had just finished a workout on the bike and was heading home when I heard a voice from the Fairwinds’ gymnasium, “Hey, we need a fourth for Pickleball!” So, I took my motto to heart and joined in – suit up and show up! I figured if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t play again. Obviously, I loved it!

After that first night playing, I came home and YouTubed every Pickleball video there was. I recall wondering, where has this game been my whole life?! I threw myself into learning the skills, playing at least three times a week. I’ve created strong friendships with my Nanoose Bay playing partners and, more recently, have been charmed by the delightful players at the Nanaimo Pickleball Club. I stay in contact with many of the awesome folks I meet when playing out-of-town, and look forward to seeing their improved games and new tricks at the tournaments.

The picklers have become my social circle, on and off the court. Many of them have their own challenges and we lean on each other for support and take inspiration from one another too. I’ve made some true lifetime friendships.

Pickleball has hugely impacted my life. It got me moving again, dramatically improving my mobility and agility. It played a major role in my weight-loss journey. The physical activity and friendships have supported my sobriety. I have rediscovered the confidence I had ten years ago. I’ve submerged myself in the game, the characters, and the community of this awesome game. It’s so much more than winning matches and medals, although the competitor in me enjoys that part too.

Written by Michael Bellis, Fairwinds Centre member

What’s your handicap?

The Golf Handicap: what is it and how do we calculate it?

The golf handicap calculation is something that most golfers never have to worry about. If you carry an official Golf CanIMG_5738ada Handicap Index, the calculation is performed for you by other people (or a computer).

But you want the nuts and bolts of the handicap formula, don’t you? You want to know the math behind figuring out handicaps. Here is a three step guide on how to calculate your score.

Step 1
A minimum of five scores and a maximum of 20 scores are required to get started. Remember, when posting scores for handicaps, you must use your adjusted gross scores. The Golf Canada Course Rating and Slope Rating for the courses played are also required for each score.

Using those figures, Step 1 is calculating the handicap differential for each round entered using this formula: (Score – Course Rating) x 113 / Slope Rating

For example, let’s say the score is 85, the course rating 72.2, the slope 131. The formula would be (85 – 72.2) x 113 / 131.

This differential is calculated for each round entered.

Note: The number 113 represents the slope rating of a golf course of average difficulty, as set by Golf Canada.

Step 2
Determine how many differentials are being used. Not every differential that results from step one will be used in the next step. If only five rounds are entered, only the lowest differential will be used. If 20 rounds are entered, only the 10 lowest differentials are used. A chart at the bottom of this page shows how many differentials are used based on the number of rounds entered.

Step 3
Get an average of the differentials used by adding them together and dividing by the number used (i.e., if five differentials are used, add them up and divide by five).

Multiply the result by .96 (96%). Drop all the digits after the tenths (do not round off) and the result is the handicap index. To put it in formula form:

(Sum of differentials / number of differentials) x 0.96

Thankfully, you don’t have to do the math on your own. Your golf club’s handicap committee will handle it for you, or the GHIN system, if you log your post scores.

Number of differentials used

Rounds Entered           Differentials Used
5-6                                   1 lowest
7-8                                   2 lowest
9-10                                 3 lowest
11-12                               4 lowest
13-14                               5 lowest
15-16                               6 lowest
17                                    7 lowest
18                                    8 lowest
19                                    9 lowest
20                                   10 lowest

Written by Brett Standerwick, Teaching Professional at Fairwinds Golf Club

The start of a new golf season

Some golfers will wait to be inspired by the incredible images from Augusta National Golf Club and the ridiculously talented players who are allowed to play in the Masters. Others wait for the temperature to match their best score. It doesn’t matter when you decide to begin your golf season, but when you do it is beneficial to do a little bit of preparation.

Sure, I could tell you that you need to sign up for a series of six private golf lessons with your local CPGA golf instructor. By the way, I am one of those and know a few others. I might even suggest finding a qualified personal trainer to drive you through session after session of golf conditioning exercises. I know a couple of those too. Finally, I could direct you to the candy store of golf and tell you to arm yourself with the latest and greatest golf equipment available, until the next model come out.   _67J2309

I am not going to do any of these things.

When you decide to begin your golf season the first thing you may want to decide is how much you are going to want to play. Let’s be honest, we all would like to play more than we do. Be realistic about this and then go to your nearest golf course and find out the best way to get involved. You’ll save money by joining a loyalty program or purchasing a multi-game pass. Make the commitment so this year is the year you get out and enjoy this great game, because you live in a great place to play it.

Next, check the equipment you already own. The grips are the most important part and they should be relatively clean and not too slippery. It’s hard to get asked back to a play with a foursome if you have almost taken their heads off with a club coming out of your hands. Before you run out and get them re-gripped (by that CPGA golf pro that you know) take the time to wash them with some warm to hot water and some kind of cleaner. They should get softer and have some more tack to them. If they don’t, do us all a favour and get them re-gripped.

Finally, as far as equipment goes, make sure you have all the clubs, you are allowed 14.  I hate it when you hit a great drive and don’t have the right club for the second shot. I hate having to borrow someone else’s putter too. _MG_1044

Fitness plays a big role in preparing for the golf season as well. My bet is that you didn’t do much in the way of stretching those golf muscles during the off season. It is actually hard to find a good stretch or exercise that incorporates all of the muscles and joints used in a golf swing. So here’s an idea, swing a golf club! Start with small swings and gradually work up to your full swing. Keep your feet close together at first to develop a better turn or body rotation. Take it slow and if it hurts, stop.

Don’t get me wrong, if you have the time and the money you can go see your local golf pro and take some lessons. If you are trying to be the best that you can be you should definitely seek out some performance enhancing exercises from a personal trainer that is qualified to do so. And you will absolutely benefit from the newest equipment. The technology that is now incorporated into golf shafts and balls will help you maximize your potential in the game. But to me, just getting out onto the golf course and the enjoyment of the game at any level requires just a few steps of preparation. So take the first step – make the choice to play.

Have a great season… whenever it starts.

By Ward Stouffer

Road trip to the Vancouver Golf Show

The Vancouver Golf & Travel Show, Western Canada’s largest consumer golf trade show, is just around the corner. We always look forward to this event as it brings thousands of golfers together in one room over two days. This year, the Vancouver Golf & Travel Show will be at the PNE (2901 E Hastings St) in Burnaby on February 14 and 15, 2015. vancouver-golf-show6

It’s a great event to attend if you want to learn more about golf, talk to a professional about equipment or lessons, and discover some new courses to play this year. Each year, the show gets bigger and better. There are also tons of giveaways and chances to win golf getaways. With approximately 125 exhibitors, you have a wide selection of golf-related services. Take a break in the beer gardens and listen to golf industry professionals chat about this great game. Another new additional to the Golf Show is the online auction that supports the Boys and Girls Club of South Coast BC.

We have gained some interesting insight over the years from attending this show by chatting with both long-term and new golfers. We attend the golf show because it is a great opportunity to reach golf enthusiasts like yourself, giving us a chance to chat with you face-to-face about our course, upcoming promotions and clinics, and the latest trends in the golf industry… and of course, those memorable moments on the fairways.

Be sure to stop by our booth this year and say hi! We’ll be giving away awesome prizes, including a free Titleist ball or round of golf. You will also want to enter our grand prize draw for a Golf and Spa Package for two people (one night stay at Tigh-na-mara Resort, 60 minute spa treatment and breakfast, two rounds of golf with cart and warm-up buckets, and a $50 gift card for Benz Lounge). You just never know what you’ll get! Tickets are $12, and kids under the age of 17 are free.

Click here for more information on the Vancouver Golf Show

Meet Ryner, golf professional at Fairwinds

Ryner Wilson grew up in Qualicum Beach and began playing in golfRyner_2014 tournaments at a young age, eventually earning a golf scholarship at Vancouver Island University. Playing as the golf team captain for four years, he won the BCCAA individual and team title, and also competed in high level tournaments such as the BC Men’s Amateur and the Canadian Men’s Amateur. Ryner has worked at Fairwinds Golf Club since 1993 and has been managing the Golf Shop since 2008. He is passionate about all aspects of the game and is devoted to making the game enjoyable. The key to his teaching philosophy is to instill strong basic fundamentals with positive reinforcement, and especially enjoys working with junior golfers.

What’s your favourite thing about teaching the game of golf?
I enjoy that moment when a student is trying their best to grasp a key swing concept you are teaching them and they hit a great golf shot! It’s an exciting moment for the student and the teacher, and that moment is when trust starts to build. This is when it becomes easier to get the student more engaged in your teachings and you can make some progress.

Who is your favourite pro golfer and why? 
Payne Stewart was my favourite golfer growing up. He was a classy guy with a classic swing and a great demeanor, plus he had one of the greatest moments in golf history winning the 1999 US Open at Pinehurst No. 2 on the final hole over a young Phil Mickelson! I also got to see him a couple times at the Greater Vancouver Open and Air Canada Championship. Rory McIlroy is my current favourite.

What are you doing when you’re not teaching golf?
I spend most of my time with my wife and two young kids. I love being a father and “teaching” my kids how to be polite and use their manners. I do get to play golf from time to time but I mostly keep sharp by practicing 2 – 3 times per week on my way home from work. I also like playing badminton and pickleball with the great people at Fairwinds Fitness Centre.

Book a lesson with Ryner at 250.468.7666 ext. 233 or