REVIEW – Riverview Golf Course (Fenwick, ON)

The Set-Up

The Niagara Region is home to a stunning number of golf courses. While some have fallen by the wayside due to a sagging economy in Niagara, others have seemed to stay the course. One of those golf courses staying the course is that of Riverview Golf Club in Fenwick, ON. As a matter of fact, for as long as I can remember the golf course was there. My parents would visit the farm next door to get sweet corn from Hewitt’s. Every day during my high school years, I’d pass by Riverview Golf Course while on the school bus.

Some people will contend that it’s geography is in question. Is this golf course is in the metropolis of Wainfleet, ON (where I grew up)? Others will contend that it sit’s in Pelham, or even Welland. No matter where you want to say Riverview Golf Course is located, here’s what you get here. If you were to drive from the Toronto/Hamilton area you would travel along the QEW Niagara, until you got to the Vineland/Victoria Avenue exit. Upon arriving there you’d take the exit and travel due south, straight down Victoria Avenue, which consequently turns into Regional Road #24. If you cross the Welland River, you’ve gone way too far.

The first tee. The first fairway is tight at Riverview Golf Course and it sets you up for the rest of the day.

The Transition

Riverview Golf Course is a regulation length Par-72 golf course that measures just over 6600 yards from the tips (Blue Tees). I tried to do some research to see who the golf course architect was, while those efforts came up empty, I can tell you that this course was built in 1957. The golf course itself is what I would describe as a parkland-style golf course but the two nine’s that compose the golf course are very contrasting.

Golfers might suggest that the front 9 is boring and mundane. Perhaps pedestrian? As a matter of fact, as you drive in from the direction that I described, you’d look at it and just sort of shrug it off. However, looks can be deceiving. Meanwhile, the back 9 grabs your attention more. Rolling terrain, and holes that run along the Welland River. With some awfully tempting risk/reward holes thrown in for good measure.

My round at Riverview Golf Course earlier this season marked the first time that I had played the golf course. When it comes to amenities, the Pro Shop stands alone from the clubhouse in its own separate building, There is a bar and kitchen, however, I didn’t set foot into the clubhouse. There is no driving range at Riverview Golf Course, so getting there really early for your tee time to warm-up isn’t necessary. Ironically enough, this is convenient considering the COVID-19 protocols that we face in 2020. For warming up, there is a short-game area, and as far as locating the practice green, that’s found around the corner from the Pro Shop. If you haven’t been there before you don’t see it until you approach the first tee. Make sure that you ask for it. I wish that I would have.

Riverview Golf Course is a family-run facility. The golf course operates on what I assume is a relatively small budget and the turf crew is quite small. My understanding from Randy (my playing partner) is that the owner’s father is the superintendent. Not to jump too far ahead, but, they do a great job on the golf course with the budget that they operate on.

The golf course itself, plays very fairly. As mentioned, we’re talking about a golf course that really feels like two separate golf courses. The first hole is a 540 yard Par-5 that has a slight dogleg right. A small pond guards the left side of the green, that I’m certain, regularly catches golf balls on approaches that are left short. The green itself is smallish and elongated. You really want to favour centre-right for your approach shot. In general, the greens are pretty small at Riverview Golf Course with the exception of a few which makes striking the golf ball a premium.

The one thing that I really noticed on the front 9 was how tight the fairways were. The trees are everywhere! On the front nine, I would say that my favourite hole was the Par-4 5th. My eye liked everything about this hole. A slight dogleg left, water just to the left of the green. I just thought that it was a pretty golf hole. The Par-3 holes on the front nine aren’t slouches. The 4th hole has a large landing area in front, a bunker guarding the right side of the green and plays around 160 yards. However, on the date of play, the yardage was around 135 yards. The green here is very accessible. Meanwhile, the 9th hole is a bear that plays into the prevailing south/southwest wind that makes this 185-yard play like significantly longer. Standing on the 9th tee, the hole looks longer, much longer. Water is short and right. Did I mention that there’s no shortage of water hazards to look at during your round at Riverview Golf Course?

As mentioned, the back 9 is located on rolling terrain that runs along the Welland River. Many of the golf holes are located in low-lying areas, so periods in the spring, or periods of heavy rainfall will be effected by the river. On occsion, the back nine will flood and this is something that I recollect going by on a school bus, oh so many years ago. I love the back nine!! As a matter of fact, if you were to survey golfers that have played Riverview Golf Course will almost tell you to a man or a woman that they prefer the back. The Par-3 11th is another bear of a hole that measure 225 yards. The green is elevated and reminds me a little bit of a turtle shell. Miss the green in any direction, and you’ll find yourself down a serious slope and scrambling to make a bogey (best-case scenario) or worse.

My favourite hole on the entire golf course is with no doubt in mind, the 12th hole (pictured above). A risk/reward Par-4 with plenty of options from the elevated tee you can either lay up to one of the multiple patches of fairway (which is the definite safe play) or , you can try to drive the green. There’s trouble just short, right, and long of the green. My tee shot found the little creek that lies just in front of the green. I needed 290 yards to cover, I got 280 yards.

The rest of the golf holes are quite nice, I loved the 13th hole, the green of the Par-3 16th is a pretty immense two-tiered (or did it have three tiers) green. The 17th hole is so pretty looking from the green back towards the tee. While the finishing hole is a short, 300 Par 4 that is uphill the entire way and plays into the prevailing wind. Honestly, the hole plays closer to 400 yards than 300 yards. Try to cut the dogleg along the right side, and you’ll catch the strand of trees.

Looking back from the 17th green at Riverview Golf Course.

The Finish

My round of golf at Riverview Golf Course was quite enjoyable. The pace of play was excellent. I enjoyed the holes and to be frank, Riverview Golf Course is a very fun golf course to play. You have to golf your ball and hit golf shots to score here. My striking was off and I paid the price.

The greens are in very good shape, although they were rolling quite slow. If I were to guess, on the day that I played, I’m not certain that they were rolling at 7′ on the stimpmeter. Downhill putts failed to make it to the hole. But the greens are visually appealing and not overly scarred from poor golf etiquette.

The tee decks are, generally, in good shape as are the fairways. There are however, some rough areas on the fairway that could be considered “ground under repair”. Outlying areas of the fairways are rough and very hard from the clay-based soil that we often see in Niagara. If you don’t want to deal with it, make sure you hit the fairway.

There are downfalls. The bunkers here are in rough shape and are in dire need of work to repair them or do away with them totally. Perhaps the consideration of filling them in and going with grass bunkers instead is an option. I feel obligated to point out that it appeared that they do have plans to address the bunkers. Also, when there’s nowhere to have the option to strike a couple of golf balls (whether into a net or a range) I tend to view it as a shortcoming.

My round cost me $50 CAD + tax for 18 holes w/cart which is the median price point in the area. As long as the greens are in good shape, I’m happy. After all, we pay greens fees and do not pay “fairway fees” or “tees fees”. If you’re in the area, Riverview Golf Course might be a place for you to try.

Until The Next Tee!!

#seeuonthenexttee #fightandgrind