CHANGING THE WAY WE PLAY The New Links at Brunello

Posted on 09/02/2015 | About Canada

Golf in Canada is not exactly booming. It has been in a slump since the economic meltdown of 2008.  Back in the 90s when I edited GolfStyle magazine, many of the movers and shakers in the golf industry spent a lot of money on consumer research. On the whole, the results indicated that golfers wanted shorter, easier and less-expensive courses. But did golf course builders give the hackers what they wanted? No, instead many built longer, harder tracts with greens fees surpassing $200 per round.
But there is light at the end of the fairway in Timberlea Nova Scotia. On my recent visit to the new (opened June 15/15) Links at Brunello, fifteen minutes from downtown Halifax, I discovered not only a fabulous new courses designed by Canadian architect Thomas McBroom, but some smart marketing ideas designed to make the game fun and affordable for all ages and handicaps. What a concept.

“We are trying to energize golf to fit people’s lifestyles,” said General Manager, Miles Mortensen. “At the Links there is no dress code. Folks can wear flip flops on the driving range if they want.”

Pay as you Play Brunello’s Advantage Card allows golfers to buy a package that suits their budget and schedule. The Bronze card costs $750 for ten rounds; Silver costs $1300 for 20 rounds, Gold costs $1650 for 30 rounds; Platinum costs $2000 for 40 rounds. The more you buy, the cheaper your round. All packages cost less than the regular green fees ($115 if book more than a week in advance; $95 if booked within seven days). Should you decide to purchase real estate at the Brunello Estates, playing in your own backyard gets even cheaper.

The Advantage Cards are fully transferable so any of your friends, family and business associates can play on your card with your permission. You don’t have to accompany them.

Another innovation is the opportunity to play by the hole. If you don’t have time for eighteen or even nine holes, you can play as little as one. Your card will be charged accordingly, or you can pay $7 per hole if you don’t have a card.

Fun and Games The Links at Brunello has the largest fleet (12) of Precedent 4Fun Club Cars in Canada. These carts transport four golfers instead of two in four front facing seats. It’s a terrific way for families, friends and business associates to socialize during their round.  At Brunello, golfers may play their own music within 15 feet of their carts.

Mortensen and his team understand the importance of introducing the next generation of golfers to the game so they have a comprehensive Junior Academy Programme to teach kids starting at age five. Plus they offer rental clubs to juniors at no cost.

Technically, there are ten tee options at the 7076-yard, par-72 championship Links at Brunello. Heavy hitters can let it rip from the black tips. There are six regular tee blocks from which to choose with the forward tees set at 5271 yards. In addition there are four “4 Fun” tees for beginners ranging from 1118 to 2216 yards. With this diversity, anyone can play and enjoy.

The course, another triumph by Thomas McBroom, winds its way through stands of pines and over wetlands and rocky outcroppings. On certain fairways it reminds me of McBroom’s work in Muskoka at Lake Joe and Rocky Crest. Big greens, wide fairways and only 38 bunkers are all part of the plan to make golf at Brunello fun, fast and playable.

Golf as it was meant to be played!