Bonaire Golf Club

A Day of Memories

By Rick Parnham


Getting up to help out at one of the BAGS Junior Tour’s weekly events is a great way to spend a summer’s day. This week’s event was an early morning affair in Barrie, so it afforded me the
perfect opportunity to follow the tournament with a drive north up the 400 to visit my mom
in cottage country. I have driven this stretch of highway for most of my life but have never before stopped to explore Bonaire Golf Club. Well I was determined to take a detour off the highway and sneak in a few holes of my own after chasing our BAGS players around in the morning.


Anyone who has headed north past the ski hills along the 400 has seen Bonaire GC’s covered bridge crossing to an island green that is adjacent to the highway. Wedged between Hwy’s 12 and 400 next to the charming village of Coldwater, this 27-hole parkland charmer is a great blend of value and challenge. The facility was expanded in 2001 by current owner Randy Fielder blending the back nine of his father’s original 18-hole design with his own creations. The course now stretches out from under the massive willows and hardwoods that line the Coldwater River to border the ribbons of asphalt carrying cottage goers to the still waters and white pines of the Canadian Shield.


The Coldwater area has always held a place in my heart, as my father was born in the village and his grandparents once had their farmstead on the land directly across the 400 from the Park nine holes. A good many of my early days were spent traipsing through the meadows looking for the perfect fishing hole on their family lands. So setting foot on Bonaire’s fairways not only took me back to those special days, but also put a smile on my face remembering my one and only round of golf played with my dad. I still laugh today about that afternoon of miserable golf swings and some colourful vocabulary, but also a cherished time well spent.


Pulling onto the laneway from Woodrow Road gives a glimpse of the character of the course and grounds. A round at Bonaire presents a quaint character with a mix of parkland and open windswept holes. The holes are routed out from the central clubhouse, however, the three nine’s, Park, River and Island, each have a slightly different feel. The Park plays to a par 35 featuring fairways that gently bend along and around stately trees leading to tricky greens. The 3rd hole on the Park nine is rated as the most challenging hole playing as a 218 yard par 3 from the tips. A bunker short and right swallows anything struck less than purely while the tree line puts a premium on a straight strike. Hole 7 plays as the number two handicap hole. This 350 yard par 4 is pinched severely by trees along the right making the best line of attack down the left opening up your shot into the green entirely surrounded by thick trees.


The River is the shortest of the nines playing to a par 35 while blending some original holes along the graceful Coldwater River with some new holes visible from the highway. The opener is a brute of a dogleg right par 4 playing at 400 yards. Protected by water right and by trees making the opening to the green seem like hitting a bulls-eye, par here is no easy feat. The meandering par 4 eight runs along the river to the left and has a small pond short and right and another long and right of the circular sloped green.

The Island nine is named for the signature par 3 fourth hole that parallels the 400 and is one of only a very few true island greens anywhere. Not overly long, this mid to short iron shot will test your nerves and your skill. The par 5 third hole on this side is the longest hole at Bonaire and has a little bit of everything. Bunkers, OB and ponds demand skillful shot making. This hole presents little room for error navigating your way to the generous green site tucked amid ponds, traps and trees.


The layout is typified by an old school feel with narrow fairways lined by big full trees pinching the corridors. The greens on the original holes are average in size and provide plenty of undulation to challenge your putting prowess. The newer holes feature larger greens adding even more defence to the holes. Not overly long, a Bonaire round can’t be taken lightly as tight corridors and hidden hazards will make execution of quality shot making a real challenge. This terrific family built facility is a perfect stopping point for those looking for good value and a memory filled round as I found out reminiscing about my roots.


Bonaire Golf Club
1699 Woodrow Road
Coldwater, ON