Architect: Les Furber
Date Played: June2014
Peak Rate: $50
The recent PGA Tour and Web.com successes of Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin are big news in Canadian professional golf. They are at the forefront of a wave of top-level golfers who have or are about to break through on the world stage. What you may or may not know is that both players grew up in Abbotsford, B.C. and both players spent many formative years playing the Ledgeview GC.
Hadwin and Taylor followed in the footsteps of James Lepp, a two-time Canadian Tour winner, and Ray Stewart, an eight-year member of the PGA Tour. There is something about Ledgeview that not only develops golfing talent, but also seems to nurture it from the very soil upon which it is built. I asked Ray for his thoughts on why this might be. Here’s what he said:
"The small greens, which are all sloped, teach juniors how to hit accurate wedge and iron shots plus really develop great short game. Kids must learn how to hit all kinds of shots, off all kinds of lies and really use their hands. With only a short driving range, the kids play lots and lots."
Perched high atop a ridge over looking Abbotsford, Ledgeview is known for its uneven lies, sloping greens and friendly service. Designed by Canadian golf course architect Les Furber, the course opened its front nine in 1962 and the back nine in 1969. While the layout is shorter than most (just over 6,100 yards), partly to accommodate a small, sloped site, distance is not the determining factor. Rather, you are asked to be creative, to attempt shots of varying lengths, trajectories, and shapes, all with sound course strategy and a great short game. After the round, you realize every club in the bag was required and no two shots were the same.
The opening hole rolls gently downhill towards a green tucked between a small bunker, a few trees and the continuation of the downhill slope. A simple 225-yard tee shot leaves a wedge to the downhill green. Or, if you’re adventurous, a well-struck driver may sneak up to the front edge. Either way, your second shot appears straightforward but as the ball flies through the air, you realize the slope may be steeper than you thought. If you guess right, you will likely have a great chance for birdie, if not, the up and down may be quite an ask. So begins the fun and challenge of Ledgeview.
As the round progresses, you find many opportunities for birdies, mixed in with challenging but fair tee shots, approaches that play both uphill and downhill, and greens that while tilted are receptive nevertheless. The par-5 fifth hole plays all of its 476 yards, and is protected by a deep ravine that wraps around the front and left of the shallow green. A great drive provides a chance to go for the green in two but anything short of the green is likely lost to the mountainside below. This is a fun, short par 5 offering great risk and reward.
The uphill par-4 sixth requires a solid drive and approach, with a green guarded by a deep bunker on the right and out of bounds throughout the left side. Par is always well deserved. The downhill seventh offers a semi-blind tee shot, followed by a second shot, downhill to an angled green. Both par 4s require solid tee shots, and smart approaches to pins usually tucked behind a bunker or hugging the edge.
Each of Ledgeview’s five par 3s (4th, 8th, 11th, 15th and 17th) offers something a little different. The downhill fourth messes with your sense of scale; the eighth asks a solid long iron or hybrid shot to a deep narrow green protected by a pond and always present wind; the 11th requires an accurate mid iron to a small green; the 15th a forced carry over a ravine guarded with overhanging tree limbs; and the 17th a short iron or wedge to a severely sloped green. Threes are possible and fours are likely.
The 12th hole, more than any other, defines the challenge and reward of Ledgeview. Your tee shot must be long enough to cover the corner of this medium-length dogleg left. A ball in the fairway leaves between 140 and 165 yards to an uphill, multi-tiered green protected by a front bunker. A tee shot missed to the right is usually blocked out, while one pulled left of or hit through the fairway often faces rough grass and a few trees. If you are fortunate enough to hit the fairway, you are tempted and often rewarded by attacking the pin. If you miss the fairway, scrambling for par requires a delicate shot, a creative chip, a solid putt or possibly all three.
Ledgeview is a fun test, one where every aspect of your game is evaluated. You may choose to play the course aggressively, lay back to favourite distances or anything in between. Good shots are rewarded, loose shots face stern challenges and when the greens are running fast, putting can be a roller coaster ride of emotions. Upon exploring the well-rounded skill set needed to play Ledgeview, it is easy to see how the foundations of future PGA Tour professionals are built.
So next time you are driving along Hwy 1 in the Fraser Valley, stop by Abbotsford and play this fun hillside course known for producing great golfing talent.