Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Coppinwood Golf Club Course Review

Coppinwood Golf Club
Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada

Architect: Tom Fazio (2006)

7536 Yard, Par 72

Rating/Slope: 76.4/144

My Quick Review: Great undulating terrain, excellent routing and a wonderful mix of holes make Coppinwood one of Fazio's best.

My Thoughts
I have played almost 40 T. Fazio golf courses, and Coppinwood is in my top 3 (and for reference of my own preferences, my top 10):

1) Victoria National
2) Shooting Star
3) Coppinwood
4) The National GC of Canada
5) Shadow Creek
6) Gozzer Ranch
7) Mountaintop
8 ) Glenwild
9) Black Diamond
10) Aldarra

ScoreGolf has Coppinwood ranked number 15 in Canada and Golfweek has it as number 9 on it’s top 30 Modern ranking.  The average GW rating is 6.60, which would place around 150 modern in the US.

Here’s what I liked:
1) Hole 12 may be the best modern par 4 in Canada.  Other holes often in the discussion are 7 at National GC of Canada and 6 at Bigwin Island GC, but 12 at Coppinwood is my favourite.

2) Hole 15 is one of my favourite modern par-5s in Canada.  Reminiscent of the 16th at Shinnecock Hills with its snaking configuration, I don't think I would ever tire of playing this hole.

3) The routing is very good.  Almost every hole has elevation change, though unlike many modern courses they aren’t all downhill!  The course constantly changes direction thanks in large part to a routing that is made up of 5 separate loops.  I was told that walking is a priority at Coppinwood.  Green to tee walks are never offensive and there are cut-outs through the tall grass.

4) Par 3s as a set are stronger than the individual holes.  Individually, only 11 is very good, but the variety of the holes make them work very well together.  I suppose it is the standard variety, but it is variety nonetheless.  Hole 5 – long P3 over water; Hole 7 – short P3 with significant green contouring / difficult up and down; Hole 11 – very long / downhill P3 with large green and really tough up and down if missed in wrong spot; Hole 16: Naderish mid-length P3.

5) Tree removal to create several very interesting skyline and eternity greens

6) Just the right amount of green contouring – It seems as though Fazio knew the greens would be kept lightning fast.  To me, the contouring was significant enough to create interest, but not so significant that the U-word (unfair) would often be used

7) Lots of interest off the tee.  Fazio’s other Canadian golf course has been criticized for being one-dimensional because it is too penal (hit it straight or else).  At Coppinwood, assuming you are playing the right set of tees, you will have a choice to make on almost every tee shot.  The bunkers are generally staggered, and hazards are at a diagonal.  Three-wood or iron is a reasonable choice on many holes.

8 ) A very well done driveable P4.  The tee shot is just enticing enough that downwind I would bet that just about everyone will take a crack at the green.  There are no hazards where one will lose their ball, but you aren’t making birdie after anything but a very well-placed tee shot.  One of those holes that you know the smart play is iron-wedge, but because you feel like there is not much risk in hitting driver, you always go for the hero play.

The Routing

Coppinwood is configured in 5 loops.  This guarantees there will be many changes in direction, which adds significant interest on a windy site.

Holes to Note
- This section is less-detailed than usual because of rain interrupting play.  I hope to have the opportunity to visit Coppinwood again next year and will fill in the holes.  Please see the course tour on the Coppinwood website for further info.

Hole 1: Par 5, 568 Yards - A very stout par 5 opener.  Uphill and intimidating tee shot with more room than there appears.  Second shot is over a diagonal hazard and bunkers, though there is a ground-game option to the right for those unwilling or unable to carry the hazard and bunkers.  The approach is straight uphill to a massive and severely back-to-front sloping skyline-ish green.
Approach to the 1st Green
Hole 3: Par 4, 426 Yards - Can a hole be penal and interesting?  I think this one is.  Bunkers on three sides of a fairway that is at a diagonal to the tee.  One must pick their line off the tee carefully, but they also must know their yardages.  Bunkers left and right are staggered.  Some will play straight toward the center bunker (265 yards from member tee).  Others will play short of the right bunker. Longer players will attempt to carry the right bunker.  Approach to the green is similar from all angles.  Key to the hole is hitting the fairway.
3rd Tee
Hole 4: Par 4, 329 Yards - A really good short/driveable par 4.  Lay-up is straightforward, should you choose to play it that way.  Plenty of width, though the best angle is from really far left and this is protected by a deep bunker.  BUT, most players will be tempted to give this green a go when it is playing downwind.  There is no water, no trees and no tall grass.  The thing is, though, just because you're not going to lose your ball if you miss your tee shot a bit, you're not going to make 3 either.  Tee shots that miss left have to deal with a severe run-off and tee shots that miss short-right (likely the most common spot) face a green that runs severely away from them and it will be difficult to keep the ball on the green from that side.

The best way to play the hole is likely iron-wedge, but it is so hard to stay disciplined when tempted like this.  A lot like number 5 at Mountaintop (in Cashiers, NC) which also has no hazards but is all about angles, one of my favorite short Fazio par-4s.
4th Tee
4th Approach from Right
Hole 6: Par 5, 528 Yards - A very good P5 with the variety of options off the tee that makes Coppinwood so good (in my mind at least).  Just like on hole 4, the 'lay-up' tee shot is easy.  Take a club that will leave you short of the right bunker at 250 yards and you have a straight fairway that allows you to bail left away from the hazard and use the slope to kick toward the centre.  For the more aggressive player, one can play farther left, attempting to skirt the left bunker.  Again, because of the slope of the fairway, one can play a bit farther right and use the 'ground-draw' to get around the left bunker.  For the longer players (240+ yard carry) they can take it right over the left bunker, but are challenged with a fairway that is at a diagonal to the tee with hazard left and bunkers right (this is penal, but there are lots of other options).  The hole, at 520ish yards, is just the right length to get players to try to bite off just a bit too much to try to leave a distance from where they can get home in two.
6th Tee
The view from 250 yards out. Once again, lay-up is easy.  Shots that laid up to the right off the tee will have a hard time getting over the right bunkers, forcing a lay-up, though there is a cut-out of fairway that rewards an aggressive and well struck attempt at getting home in two.  The bunkers are far enough short of the green that anyone who hit a bold tee shot should have no problem getting over them.  Reward for risk off the tee.
Approach from 250 Yards Out
Hole 7: Par 3, 146 Yards - Somewhat standard but good short P3.  Green has a lot of microcontouring.  Green actually goes further left than is obvious from the tee making for pin positions that will give the 'floating' effect, where they look like they are actually placed in the rough.  Contouring right of the green is interesting -- depending on exactly where you land, the ball may feed toward the green, or it may feed away.  Some luck involved there.
7th Tee
7th Tee Zoomed
Hole 10: Par 4, 423 Yards - The tenth is start of an exceptional three hole stretch.
Options off the tee once again, and again these options dictate the second shot.  The fairway is at a diagonal to the tee, with an approach that is best from the left (ie challenging the left fairway bunkers).  Placement of the bunker right is really clever.  A tee shot that does not attempt to carry left bunkers will stay short of the right bunker.  But, someone  long enough to carry left bunkers but hits bigtime slice/push will be penalized.
10th Tee
Interestingly, the easiest pin on the green is near the water.  The pin over the bunker (as pictured) is very difficult to attack as the green slopes away just over the bunker and it is very shallow.  A tee shot that challenges the left bunkers off the tee will not have to carry any water on the approach, even to a right pin.
10th Approach
Hole 11: Par 3, 221 Yards - A really difficult P3 with a massive false-front and a very tilted green.  The entire green slopes severely from back-left to front-right, and with the greens at the speeds Coppinwood keeps them, above the hole is very, very dangerous.  But, to keep the ball short of the pin, means to risk finding the massive slope short/right of the green.
11th Tee
Balls just missing the green could find a flat spot in the slope some 10 yards off the green.  Those not so fortunate will have their ball run all the way down to the rough leaving 50 yards to the middle of the green.  Up-and-down to a front-right pin (pictured) is a really daunting task (remember, you don't want to get above the hole!).

A Huge Run-Off Protects the 11th Green

Hole 12: Par 4, 430 Yards - The hole that may be the best P4 in Canada sits on the most interesting terrain at Coppinwood that features obvious elevation change and a fantastic rolling fairway.  From the tee, the green is in clear view (though it looks 5 miles away) and the line of charm is in full effect.

From the tee, the player has three viable options:
1) Lay-up short of the left bunkers, leaving a semi-blind approach from about 180 yards out.
2) Try to get the tee shot on top of the hill, which requires a tee shot long enough to challenge the bunkers.
3) Challenge the right side.  If successful the tee shot will find a 'power-slot' leaving <100 yards in, though the shot will be substantially uphill.
Back-Tee View
Member Tee View
View from left of fairway shows undulations in fairway and the eternity-ish green.  Green is a very interesting shape - very wide and very shallow.  If you want to get close to a left or right pin, you have to have placed your tee shot in the right side of the fairway (or at the 100 yard marker).  Green open in front always shots to be run onto the green, though a significant false front makes the task much more difficult.
12th from Left of Fairway
Approach from 150 Yards Out
From 100 yards out the eternity green turns into a skyline green.  Very cool!
12th from Behind
Hole 15: Par 5, 529 Yards - A really good snaking P5 that like much of Coppinwood is all about options.

No picture of the tee shot, but it is largely blind with only the left fairway bunkers in view.  Play it short or aim over the corner of the rough to find the fairway right of them?  Shots that successfully challenge the bunkers will find a speed-slot and put the player in position to go for the green in two.
15th from Start of Fairway
Shots that are laid-up to the bunker will require a blind second shot over the bunkers to a fairway that is moving diagonally.  It is difficult to pick the right line/club from there.

The shortest line in requires a carry over the bunkers, but if laying up, one really wants to be on the left side of the fairway to best challenge this shallow green.
View from 250 Yards Out
From ~125 yards out on the right side of the fairway the green looks like it is nonexistent.  As a first-time player I didn't realize it, but trying to pick up a couple of extra yards by being on the right side of the fairway is not the play.
Approach from 125 Yards Out
The view from the back of the green shows the snaking/diagonal/sloping nature of the 15th fairway.
15th from Behind
Hole 18: Par 4, 459 Yards - Good long P4 with one of the widest fairways on the course.  For many this will be a three-shot hole so the extra width comes in handy, but players wanting to reach the green in regulation will want to challenge the fairway bunkers on the inside of the dogleg.  The farther left one is off the tee, the longer the approach and the more blind the approach will be.
18th Tee
The approach, one of the prettiest on the course, is to another infinity-green.
18th Approach
18th Green from 100 Yards Out

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Looks great - I haven't seen a lot of photos of Coppinwood in the past but it looks very interesting.