Masters Meltdowns

Golf ball on the edge of the hole

When the 81st edition of the Masters Tournament gets underway on April 6th, nobody will be more anxious to get back to Augusta than the 2015 champion Jordan Spieth who made the 2016 contest one of those tournaments best known for who lost than who won.

At the end of the third round in 2016, Spieth had emerged as the first golfer in Masters history to have the outright lead in seven consecutive rounds. He expanded that lead over the front nine on the final day and stood on the 10th tee with a 5 shot lead, making back-to-back victories an almost foregone conclusion. Almost. He made bogey at 10 and again at 11. Then, disaster struck. He caught his tee shot fat on the par-3 12th and dumped it into Rae’s Creek.  He dropped another ball, then badly chunked that into the water, too. His third attempt, and his fifth stroke with penalties, was over the green into a bunker from which he got up-and-down for a quadruple bogey 7.  Spieth had dropped from 7-under to 1-under over the 10th through 12th holes and Englishman Danny Willett went on to win the Green Jacket.

Meltdowns on the back nine at Augusta are nothing new. In 2011, it was Rory McIlroy who took a four-shot lead to the 10th tee with hopes of becoming the youngest-ever winner of the Green Jacket. Those hopes were dashed when he snap-hooked his drive on the 10th, making a triple bogey, followed by a four-putt at 12 and a rinsing of his ball in Rae’s Creek at 13. If it’s any consolidation, two months later McIlroy lapped the field at the U.S. Open to win his first major, but he’s still looking to don his first Green Jacket.

Greg Norman was another marquee player to fumble at the Masters and on no less than three separate occasions. In 1986, he made a Sunday charge, stringing together six birdies to tie the lead heading to the final hole. But it was not to be. He pushed his second shot from the fairway on 18 into the gallery, finishing the hole with a bogey and a second place finish. The following year, he squandered a Sunday lead and lost in a sudden death playoff in heartbreaking fashion when Augusta native Larry Mize chipped-in on the second playoff hole. And again in 1996, after leading for each of the first three rounds, Norman lost a six shot lead by the 11th hole in the final round, leaving the Green Jacket for Nick Faldo.

But the saddest of all Sunday finishes in Masters history was probably that of the great Argentine player Roberto De Vicenzo who carded a final round 65 in the 1968 tournament, good enough for a playoff spot – until it wasn’t. Having signed his scorecard for a par on the 17th when he had actually birdied the hole, his 65 under the Rules of Golf became a 66 and he was out of a playoff and into 2nd place. Shattered, a heartbroken De Vicenzo famously pronounced in his broken English, “what a stupid I am.”

There are very few things in golf that compare to the back nine at the Masters on a Sunday afternoon.

New Homes for Fish and Wildlife along the Niagara River

View from the shore looking out at Niagara River

An exciting effort is underway at Niagara Parks to provide new homes for fish and wildlife while building on projects intended to slow shore erosion.

Seven sites along the Upper Niagara River have been identified for habitat restoration, with the mouths of Ussher’s Creek and Baker’s Creek already completed in March 2017.

In the past, the Niagara River shoreline would have been lined with coastal wetlands. In 2015, it was determined by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry that over 75% of these coastal wetlands have been lost on the Canadian side of the Niagara River largely due to erosion prevention efforts. Coastal wetlands are essential for many fish species found within the Niagara River, including Lake Sturgeon, a species at risk. Typically these wetlands consist of various plants that provide safe shelter which is important for increasing fish populations in the Niagara River.

How are these habitats created?

  • Installation of fences that control the movement of dirt and small rocks
  • Shaping the river bank to a gentler/stable slope
  • Ash trees damaged by the Emerald Ash Borer pest were recycled and included as part of the project and placed into the river bed to slow wave action and create calmer near shore habitat
  • Planting of shoreline shrubs and plants
  • Ongoing monitoring

Anchored Root Wads create fish habitats

Submerged fish habitat project (rock ‘weir’ with anchored logs)

Niagara River Shoreline works – reduced wave action leading to vegetation growth

Niagara River Shoreline works – reduced wave action leading to vegetation growth

March Break in Niagara Parks


Northern Owls at the Butterfly Conservatory 

February 13 – April 17  |  10am – 5pm

Northern Owls, an exhibit from the Royal Ontario Museum, is the first of Niagara Parks’ planned Rooted initiatives, developed under the provincial government’s Ontario 150 Funding Program. Included with regular admission and designed to celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of both Niagara and the province, the exhibit focuses on the fascinating and less well-known aspects of owl behaviour, biology and lifestyle. Visitors will have the chance to see 10 different owl specimens as part of the regular exhibit and view live raptor displays and demonstrations during March Break with representatives from the Canadian Raptor Conservancy.

Outdoor Live Raptor Display with Demonstration
March 11-12, March 15, March 18  |  11am, 1pm, 3pm



March Break Matinees at Old Fort Erie

March 13 – 17  |  1pm & 4 pm

Over 200 years of living history resides within Old Fort Erie. This War of 1812 National Historic Site has been occupied by British, American and Fenian troops at different points throughout history. During March Break, take in the historic surroundings while enjoying award winning classics and charming family favourites during March Break Matinees. Admission is $5 and the doors open 30 minutes before showings. Drinks, popcorn and light snacks available for purchase on-site.

Monday, March 13

    • The Croods (PG) – 1 pm
    • The Iron Giant (PG) – 4pm

Tuesday, March 14

  • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (PG) – 1 pm
  • The Goonies (PG) – 4pm

Wednesday, March 15

  • Home (PG) – 1 pm
  • Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (G) – 4 pm

Thursday, March 16

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (PG) – 1 pm
  • Monsters vs. Aliens (PG) – 4 pm

Friday, March 17

  • Kung Fu Panda (PG) -1 pm
  • Rise of the Guardians (PG) – 4 pm



Print your own tribute for Canada 150

March 13 – 17  |  11am – 3pm

Learn more about the life of rebel publisher William Lyon Mackenzie and how the power of the printed word helped change Canada over the past 150 years. Niagara Parks Heritage Staff will be onsite at Table Rock Centre during March Break to assist with hands-on displays, allowing individuals an opportunity to print their own unique tribute to Canada’s 150th anniversary!


Save with the Niagara Falls Wonder Pass

Whether you’re here for just one day or several, a Niagara Falls Wonder Pass can save you over 55% on attractions, transportation and more! Each Pass includes one-time admission to the listed attractions along with two days of access to on WEGO, the hop-on, hop-off bus transportation system that connects Niagara Parks with your hotel and other tourist areas in the city. You’ll also receive valuable bonus coupons for other experiences, dining and shopping.

Your attraction admissions are valid all season long, until April 30, 2017. Whether you want to experience everything in one day or spread your admissions out over your entire visit, it’s totally up to you! The included WEGO access is however for consecutive two-day use. If required, ask at a Niagara Parks Welcome Centre how you can add more days to your WEGO access.