Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 06:56 Tuesday, 18 October 2016 06:39
In the third and final part of his golf in Ontario adventure series, Inside Golf’s Gord Montgomery heads back towards Toronto, again finding golfing gems all along the way. Two courses in particular were chosen, extremely different from each other but each offered a true test of creativity from all sorts of varying lies and troubles.
CALEDON/MAPLE, Ontario (Gord Montgomery/iG) — To the east of Toronto lays Osprey Valley, a spot where renowned Canadian architect Doug Carrick crafted some of his finest work in setting down three 18-hole playgrounds, the Heathlands along with Hoot and Toot.
The non-rhyming playground, Heathlands, was the one chosen to play and for good reason: Driving into the property, located in Caledon, several holes parallel the roadway and the images of good ol’ fashioned Scottish links-style golf pop into your mind. The fescue grasses are deep and wave a friendly “hello” as you pass by, likely knowing you’re going to get up close and friendly with a few of them before the day is over. Meanwhile, the pot bunkers sit there quietly, not wanting to ruin the surprises they hold in store.
The starting hole on Heathlands is a perfect example of what’s ahead: rolling terrain, that fescue, deep, deep, deep pot bunkering, and large, rolling greens. A par 5, its a demanding 538 yards from the blue tees and every one of those steps is well earned. Top that off with an elevated green protected by a few of those pot bunkers, where sometimes hitting backwards is the only shot available, and a par here is a great start to a more than interesting day.
Not overly long, the course plays to slightly more than 6,400 yards from the blue tees (under 6,100 from the white) and while neither of those measurements sound overwhelming, they can be if you’re game isn’t up to par out here.
Robert McClure, the director of golf at Osprey Valley, agreed that you need to be ready for the demands Heathlands asks of your game. “You’ve got to keep it on the short grass,” he stated simply about taming this beast.
One thing that people need to keep in mind when playing here, he added, is that a variety of shots can and should be used to score well.
“You can use the bump-and-run on many holes,” to take away the difficulty of trying to fly those massive sandpits that await a mishit shot and to add to the authenticity of playing a course that pays tribute to its Scottish ancestors.
As for the other two offerings here, they both play longer than their sister with the Hoot at 6,800 off the blue tees and Toot at about 100 yards shorter. The difference is, they don’t swallow up stray shots like Heathlands with its tangly fescue. Rather, the Hoot bares its teeth with waste bunkering throughout while Toot is a more placid parkland style featuring wide fairways and rolling terrain.
In all, Osprey Valley is a great threesome, looking for you to make up a foursome that is the hunt for a variety of challenges all in one spot.
The final stop was in Maple, where another Doug Carrick design, Eagles Nest, awaited. This is a gorgeous facility right from the magnificent clubhouse out to the playing area. And what a playpen it is. Topping out at almost 7,500 yards, it is more than advisable to start each hole from the correct distance. And if you find yourself overwhelmed by distance, move up to ensure you enjoy the round here as much as you should.
The opening hole, a par 5 running at 500 yards off the white tees (playing to a total yardage of 6,225), is a jaw-dropper given the narrow landing areas that are flanked by native grasses and protected with huge bunkers in the middle of the fairway.
Simply put, this is a course where you need to keep your wits about you because if you get frustrated with an off-line shot the day can get awfully long really quickly. Ranked as the 28th best track in the country, this is another of those Ontario layout that is challenging, but fun.
This is another course where the holes never repeat themselves and there are no up-and-back scenarios although there are a lot of ups and downs thanks to wonderful elevation changes throughout. A perfect example of that is the 6th hole, known as “dinna router” (Don’t Mess About) an uphill par 4 that is less than 300 yards. However, miss the fairway on this uphill hole and you’re in big trouble with trees, hillocks, sand and all other sorts of nasties in your way. A fun risk/reward hole where you don’t feel too badly making bogey if you miss your tee or approach shot.
The eighth hole, a par 3 of 122 yards is well guarded front and left by huge bunkers below the green but that isn’t the main characteristic here. This hole is actually more memorable for its camera shot rather than its tee shot, as you overlook the skyline of Toronto from the elevated teeing area.
Eagles Nest is another course that makes heading east a great idea because the golf here in Ontario, especially in the cool fall weather, is a drive well taken.
About the Writer
Gord Montgomery is a retired sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He is now in his eighth year of writing for Inside Golf. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s also on Twitter at @gordinsidegolf.