Warmer weather draws golfers to Oak Bay’s links

Oak Bay’s course welcomes those working on the short game

With the sun up earlier so are Tom MacDonald and Agnes Szilos as they head for Henderson ahead of the traffic.

Both have long connections with Oak Bay’s community golf course. Szilos recalls early itemizing, seeking out price lists for required equipment in the building as a summer student the year before it was built. MacDonald worked as part of a summer parks crew the year the course was constructed.

“The place is a special place for me, now as a retired guy I put a lot of time in there,” MacDonald said. “It’s a less than five minute walk from my home. We can get in and get out in an hour and 15 minutes and it’s a pretty little course.”

Henderson Park Golf Course is ideal for beginners or those who want to practice their short game,” says Chris Hyde-Lay, Oak Bay parks manager.

Nestled in a beautiful tree-flanked setting, the course at 2291 Cedar Hill X Rd., provides a challenge to beginners and more experienced golfers.

“Not only is it a beautiful woodland setting, but we’re adding more and more rhododendrons all the time,” Hyde-Lay said. “It’s a really beautiful place to practice your short game.”

For MacDonald and Szilos it’s the best way to start the day.

“We’re the first on every morning,” said MacDonald. “No one would call us normal and no one would call us regular, obsessive would be more like it.”

“It makes it feel like it’s your course,” Szilos said.

“It’s a great short game,” she confirmed. “The fact you can get it done on an hour and a half, it’s like a nice walk in the morning.”

The duo also adds add fun challenges that often involve food.

While the Timbits challenge is a bit convoluted to convey, the larger brunch and dinner awards are pretty simple.

“If one or the other gets a hole in one they get brunch at Oak Bay Marina,” MacDonald said. “I bought her brunch twice last year.”

After more than 300 rounds played, tracked precisely on MacDonald’s spreadsheet system, they finished last season within 40 strokes of each other.

“Tom won dinner so it all evens out,” Szilos said.

Both take pride in the course they helped build.

“It’s a wonderful community amenity,” MacDonald said. “You see lots of moms and dads out there with their kids.”

“You see people in their 90s out too,” Szilos adds. “It’s very social and you can tell everybody has a good time.”

They take pride in the work Ian McCann does, working around players, to keep the course in fair concision.

“I’m proud of him as an employee. This isa guy who the taxpayers get full dollar for every day,” MacDonald said.

He keeps the place well groomed and maintained despite in heavy use and doesn’t intrude on players time.

“It’s what you hope for in any employee, that pride of ownership,” Szilos said.

The course offers them the affordable opportunity for a round a day and retirement offers the time.

“You promote fitness, you promote wellness and now you get to do the same thing, and go out and enjoy it,” Szilos said.

Visit oakbay.ca/parks-recreation/programs/golf to learn more about Henderson Park Golf Course and special programs.

cvanreeuwyk @oakbaynews.com