Saturday, June 9, 2012

Allandale Golf Course Review

Allandale Golf Course
Innisfil, Ontario, Canada

Architect: Stanley Thompson (1928)

3,250 Yards, Par-36

Rating/Slope: 35.0/118

My Quick Review: A must-play for any fan of Stanley Thompson's work

Ian Andrew has called Allandale "the most intact piece of Stanley Thompson in Ontario".  See Ian's full description on his blog here:

I was impressed.  Some bunkers have been filled in, though their bones are still clearly visible.  Micro-contouring in the fairways, a feature I have noticed at several of Thompson's courses, ensures that there will be few level lies.  Few trees have been added, the tees are mostly original and the greens are subtle and interesting, even if they have shrunk a bit.

A simple clubhouse sited steps from the first tee...

Hole 1: Par 5, 500 Yards - The 1st hole is one of three par-5s on this 3,250 yard par-36 layout.  Lost in the rough on the right is a very large bunker.  

Straightaway are two centreline hazards that must be played over on the second shot.  A bunker (now grass) and a wall of grass hide the lay-up zone and provide for some visual deception as they merge will with the mounding and bunkering near the green.

This green side bunker has plenty of flair... fans of Thompson are used to that!  The mounding around the back of the green shows that unlike some golden age architects, Thompson was not afraid to move a bit of dirt.  Missing long is rarely a good option at Thompson's courses and the same is true here.

A fascinating green, very similar Donald Ross' template greens with a horseshoe in front-centre.

Hole 2: Par 4, 380 Yards - The second green is wonderful.  While the entire greens tilts from right-to-left, there is also some very interesting perimeter green contouring, something many of the greens at Allandale have.  A couple of looks at the green first from the front and second from back-right.

Hole 3: Par 3, 215 Yards - A simple green site located at the bottom of a valley (complete with mounding long). 

Hole 5: Par 5, 500 Yards - This is an exceptional golf hole.  Two bunkers set naturally into a hill provide some visual deception on the tee shot, making the hill appear closer than it is.

The second shot is played over a diagonal ridge, with a massive and intimidating bunker protecting the left side.  The green is completely out-of-view from here.

A closer look at the bunkering to the left side of the fairway:

The green does not come into view until the golfer is 50 yards out.  As the golfer crests the hill he finds another very nice green site.

Hole 6: Par 3, 155 Yards - The first of back-to-back par-3s.  This at-grade green slopes severely from front-to-back.  The bunkering is now simple and sterile and the green has obviously shrunk, but this approach must once have been very intimidating, especially with the fearsome (now grass) back bunker.

Hole 7: Par 3, 210 Yards - Along with the 9th, this hole appears to have the most complete set of original bunkering.  

From right:

From back-left:

Hole 8: Par 4, 400 Yards - The most difficult tee shot on the golf course.  This hole more than any has micro-contouring on the fairway...

An interesting punchbowl green at the 8th:

Hole 9: Par 5, 525 Yards - The tee shot is played over a diagonal ridge to an ever-narrowing fairway.

The green is tucked into a corner of the property, surrounded by deep bunkering.  This is the only green site with an intact rear bunker.  It's also the only green with a distinct second tier (I don't know if any originally had a second tier, though Ian Andrew on his blog suggests the 5th did).

Green from short-right:

Green from right:


  1. Hi, I really enjoy your blog and perspective on course design. In fact, checking for new posts is part of my daily routine at the office, although it probably shouldn't be.

    If you haven't played it yet, I'd recommend playing Rockway Golf Course in Kitchener. It's a Stanley Thompson municipal course that I grew up playing. From what I understand, the course is near original and all but holes #6 and #7 have original Thompson greens. It’s a ton of fun to play with a bunch of really great short par 4s on the front nine and some fun par 5s on the back. Anyways, thanks for keeping up such a great blog.


  2. Ryan, thank you very much! I've really enjoyed posting about some of the courses I've been fortunate to play and it is really nice to hear that there are people that are enjoying reading my posts.

    I have played Rockaway, but it was several years ago in a high school golf tournament. Thompson + a collection of great short 4s is something I'd love to see. Thank you for the recommendation.