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Fiery start in a pandemic golf world

Let me start by saying I wasn't at my best, but it wasn't my worst either. But it was my first visit to Fire Rock Golf Club in Komoka, so I wasn't going to let off-season rust diminish the experience.

And while I spent more than the usual amount of time off in the left rough looking where I last saw my ball headed, I can affirm the following: playing at Fire Rock was worth the wait.

I was joined by some of my usual golfing suspects, who I will refer to as The Thinker and Mr. 'Aw Golly'. Thinker and I were making our first start of the season, while Golly had already been out a few times. Playing off the white tees (6,279 yards), we teed up on the Back 9 to kick things off. But the best part of the start wasn't so much where we were or what we were looking at -- it was the service.

The starter made sure we had everything we needed (including getting a pail of water for me to wet my club towel in), and then he had us follow him down the fairway to point out the ideal landing spot for our drives. He even gave suggested clubs we might want to consider to give us the best chance of finding the short stuff.

The tip helped, as my 2-iron found the middle of the fairway. What happened next, I do not blame the starter for. But the looser Thinker, Golly and myself got, the better the experience became.

As for the track itself, I can say each hole felt familiar but brand new each time we put our peg into the ground. And it didn't seem to matter which set of tees you elected to play, this is not just a bomb-and-gouge course. Thinking it out and making the choice to leave driver in the bag was something to consider, not only because of the terrain but the shifting winds made club selection more important.

My favourite hole was our 9th (normally the 18th). Hitting into a slight cross-wind, the driver put me in a good position to see the elevated green that was additionally protected by some inconsistent winds. Visually, it's everything you would want in a closing hole, and the risk/reward of going for the green makes for a fun decision.

Unfortunately, we couldn't sample the full Fire Rock experience thanks to COVID-19, but I know I'll be going back again. The helpfulness of the staff alone makes this a gold-level experience for me, so returning to play when my game is more in shape already has me salivating at what could be.

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