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Golfing in St. Davids on a balmy New Year's Day

The morning rain and a temperature of 6.5 Celsius at noon might not be usual conditions for 18 holes, but no one was complaining — including some Thorold golfers

The morning rain and a temperature of 6.5 Celsius at noon might not be usual conditions for a round of golf on New Year’s Day, but no one was complaining at St. Davids Golf Club Sunday.

Owner Debbie Goring told The Local, a sister publication of ThoroldToday, that tee times were booked solid from 8:50 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. New Year’s Day.

Cheerful golfers were unloading their clubs and stretching their limbs to loosen up before teeing off for either nine or 18 holes. And when the sun peeked through the clouds at about 12:40 p.m. many were anticipating shedding layers once into their round. 

Mike Choma of St. Catharines had just finished playing nine holes and was waiting to connect with Brian and Shirley Dimitroff of Niagara Falls for his back nine. 

Choma is a member at St Davids and Queenston Golf Clubs. He usually plays Queenston on New Year’s Day but the recent rain meant that conditions on St. Davids, protected a bit more by the escarpment, were more favourable than those at the sister course.

“It’s not too bad out today,” Choma said, pointing to the duck boots he was wearing to ensure his feet stayed dry. “I don’t wear my golf shoes when it’s like this. In the winter, you have to think a bit more about your game, choose different clubs than you would in the summer. And I use a different golf ball, too, one with a bit less compression.”

Choma went on to acknowledge that there would be less roll on his drives on this particular soggy Sunday, while often on New Year’s Day icy conditions might put a few extra yards onto his length from the tee boxes. 

Parker Moran drove down from Stoney Creek to play St. Davids Sunday. Like Choma, the 26-year-old usually plays Queenston but chose St. Davids on Jan. 1 for the same reason. The HVAC technician’s winter rounds are not limited to New Year’s Day — the avid golfer tries to book a round at least once every month of the year at one of the two courses. 

The group of Mark and Drew Timlock and Robbie Denham were putting out on the fourth green as Moran followed his down-the-middle tee shot. Denham missed his first putt by just a few millimetres. 

For the second straight year Bob Hewer of Thorold had arranged an informal tournament of sorts. The 20 or so in his group were all arriving between noon and 1 p.m. 

“My friend Dave Brennan called me last year at the last minute and asked me if I wanted to golf,” explained Hewer. “It was a nice day (similar to Sunday, the temperature reached 5 Celsius on Jan. 1, 2022), so I thought, why not. Then we started calling some others, and it just blossomed into four groups.”

It blossomed further for  New Year’s Day, 2023, with a fifth group added to the competition. Organizer Hewer matches each golfer with another as a ‘blind partner.’ They all ante up $20 into a pot at the start of the round, and the top five twosomes take home all the cash. Apres golf they were all heading to The Northern Flame on Lake Street in St. Catharines. 

Most of the golfers in Hewer’s group hailed from St. Catharines, though there was one foursome who all drove down from Burlington. 

“This is one of the few golf courses in Niagara that is open year round,” Hewer said. “And it’s a perfect way to ring in the new year. Here we are today, we’re golfing, and it’s great weather.”

When The Local suggested that the morning’s rainy conditions were threatening to return and potentially put a damper on the afternoon, Hewer responded, “It doesn’t rain on the golf course.” 

Brian Dimitroff was all smiles as he and his wife Shirley readied for their nine holes with Choma. When someone wished him a good round after his tee-off, he summed up the feeling of each and every one of the golfers present. 

“Even a bad round is a good round today.”

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Mike Balsom

About the Author: Mike Balsom

With a background in radio and television, Mike Balsom has been covering news and events across the Niagara Region for more than 35 years
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