By Brent Long
As they hovered over the driving range at Rocky Crest for one last incredible view of ClubLink’s flagship Muskoka golf course, six members looked in amazement as helicopter pilot Peter Andersen and Wendel Clark, who was sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, flew into action.
For the next six minutes, they watched in astonishment as NovaJet’s sleek Sikorsky S-76C+ helicopter whisked them down the middle of Lake Joseph and Lake Rosseau from Rocky Crest to the Lake Joseph Club for their second round of golf on a perfect summer’s afternoon.
“The flight between Rocky Crest and Lake Joe was made extra special knowing Wendel was on board with us,” says ClubLink contest winner, Janice Clost from Eagle Creek in Ottawa “Seeing the stunning views with him pointing out his cottage, Cindy Crawford’s, Goldie Hawn’s and Paul Coffey’s was like getting a tour of Hollywood. Such a beautiful area – there is no question why they all own a special place around the beauty and serenity of Lake Rosseau.”
This was just one of many extraordinary moments six lucky members, winners of ClubLink’s ‘Bleeding Blue’ book contest from earlier this year, experienced as they spent a day travelling in style on NovaJet’s executive chopper from Toronto to Muskoka and back, and playing golf with the former captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs on both courses.
“I told my eight-year-old this morning before leaving that there is only one guy whose number that I would put on a Leaf’s jersey and that would be No. 17,” says Derek Truba, who purchased a couple of copies of the book at his home course, RattleSnake Point. “I’m a huge Wendel fan. So, to be able to play Rocky Crest for the very first time with Wendel and a great group of ClubLink members has been incredible. I learned that I must come back to Muskoka to play these courses again and Wendel surpassed my expectations. He’s so much more down to earth than I ever imagined and a great host.”
“My best description to the many Eagle Creek Members that have approached me about the day, questions have continued each day I’ve been at the course since, is, “it was one of the best days of my life”, Clost says. “The entire experience was simply amazing and so incredibly enjoyable!”
This day to remember started back in the spring with Wendel’s book tour at ClubLink golf shops across Ontario. Six lucky purchasers – Domenic Figliano and Andrew Fleming from The Country Club, Heather Dopfer-Pedersen from RattleSnake Point and Adam Lattanzio from The Club at Bond Head and Clost had their names selected in the draw.
“I bought the book for a Men’s Night prize that our company was sponsoring,” says Lattanzio who holed shots from off the green on holes No. 1 and 2 to start his round with Wendel at Rocky Crest. “At first, I thought it was a scam, but when I called the lady at ClubLink and she said it was legit. It blew my mind. Ever since I was a little kid Wendel has been my favourite player and I had never met him before.”
At the end of the day after chirping each other and laughing together, Lattanzio summed it up this way with one last jab, “Wendel’s a great guy, who is looking to have fun, he likes a beer and is enjoying life . . . and he can hold his own on the golf course. It’s been a great day, with a great guy.”
For Clost, who has been a Leaf’s fan since she was five, the decision to purchase the book was simple, winning the contest was a passing thought as she took the book home. She was out for dinner a few weeks later at a surprise birthday party when she received an email from ClubLink saying she was a lucky contest winner. “I had to read the email twice to make sure I was reading it correctly. I was shocked. I asked myself is this real or a scam. Am I going to spend a day golfing with Wendel Clark in Muskoka?” says Clost, who received confirmation that it wasn’t a joke the following day.
The group flew from NovaJet’s private hanger at Pearson International Airport for 40 minutes before landing on the range at Rocky Crest where they were greeted by Clark, a long-time member and ambassador of ClubLink. After 18 holes and lunch at Rocky Crest, they hopped back on the chopper for the six-minute ride to The Lake Joseph Club, where they played a fun-filled match on the nine-hole short course, including one of the Club pros as a tour guide. Then it was off to Wendel’s family cottage to relax on the boathouse deck overlooking Lake Rosseau before heading back to the city on the chopper just before sunset.
“It’s the first time I have been in a helicopter and it was absolutely amazing,” says Clost, who had never been to The Lake Joeseph Club before. “The lift off was pretty cool and the flight was a lot smoother and easier than I thought it would be. We were all amazed that you could be in Muskoka in 40 minutes from Toronto. It’s definitely a great way to travel.” Heather Dopfer-Pedersen, a RattleSnake Point Member added “Muskoka is beautiful but it was stunning from the air. That is the best way to travel north – avoiding the 400, etc. is priceless.”
NovaJet is one of the fastest expanding air charter companies in Canada and ClubLink’s preferred private aviation partner. The Toronto-based company owns and operates an ever-growing fleet of about 16 private jets and helicopters. The chopper used for this excursion, a Sikorsky S-76C+, was totally refurbished with a premium executive interior for flight comfort in 2016 with a stocked bar and travels up to 300 kilometres/hour. It easily holds six passengers with spacious seating and ample leg room, and up to six sets of golf clubs, while providing unparalleled service and personalized attention to detail.
“To see Wendel’s cottage from the sky and then to be welcomed there after golf was such a privilege,” Clost adds. “How many people would bring six people that he only really got to know during this one-day adventure to such a private place? It shows the type of person he is – so down-to-earth, so welcoming, and so willing to share with others. I am quite sure he knew how we felt with the conversations, more picture taking, and the thank-yous that continued until we left for our flight home. For him to take the time to drive us back to the chopper at The Lake Joseph Club was again, quite simply amazing.
“I hope to one day run into Wendel again at Eagle Creek and share a laugh or two of the fun we had in the Muskoka,” she adds. “To ClubLink, NovaJet and Wendel Clark, a huge thank you for the adventure, the laughter, and the golf at two very beautiful ClubLink courses. Memories that will last us a lifetime and future golf rounds with some new-found friends.”