Sunday, September 23, 2012

Toronto Golf Club Course Review

Toronto Golf Club 
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Architect: Harry Colt (1912), Martin Hawtree (2010)

6,836 Yards, Par 70

Rating/Slope: 73.1/138

My Quick Review: An indifferent restoration effort, but Colt's genius in routing and selection of green sites make Toronto one of Canada's  greatest golf courses.

In the late 2000s, Hawtree was brought in to do what was once called a restoration, but was later called a 'sympathetic restoration'.  My knowledge of Colt's work is very limited, but the way it was explained to me is that Hawtree changed the bunker style to what Colt would have done had he designed Toronto later in his career.  I've read elsewhere that the Club has plenty of original info (drawings/pictures/aerials) to do a true restoration, so it is slightly surprising that they chose this route.  

Scorecard info:

Brief history of the club:

One of the great clubhouses in golf...

The first hole has been changed significantly, with the entire fairway shifted some 15 yards to the right to avoid liability issues with the entrance road.  The new bunker style is very different than the old style; where once the fairway bunkering at the first was subtle, and frankly not easily seen, it is now obvious.  Probably, it's a change that will be liked by most, but it is certainly less charming.  

Additionally, bunkers have been added on the right side of the fairway (a la no bad shot goes unpunished), and the bunkers are staggered.

Fairway cut run-offs are a Hawtree addition (at least compared to the prior version).  I don't think they fit well.

The second hole is an up-and-over mid-length par-4, with OB running the entire right side of the fairway.  Three staggered bunkers complicate the driving zone.  The green is fantastic, with a front portion of the green being the only portion visible from the fairway.  Over the crest of the hill is a small bowl and a near impossible to access back-right corner that falls-off to the right.

The third is a massive par-4, with (I think) added bunkering down the left and a centreline bunker removed.  Bunker placement + flattish land adds visual confusion on the tee shot, and a cross-bunker adds deception on the approach.  Unfortunately, Toronto is kept to soft for one to play a running approach, which the 3rd green begs for.

The 4th is one of the best par-3s in the city and is a bold and genius piece of routing by Mr Colt.  The green is set just over a diagonal ridge and features some redan qualities.  The green is set just steps over the ridge and tilts away from the tee.

The tee shot at the 5th is played over a rise to a bunkerless fairway that reverse cambers and doglegs left.  The 5th green tilts significantly toward the golfer and demands an aerial approach.

The 6th is an oft forgotten hole at Toronto, but it's a really good one.  The hole has actually been shortened recently so that golfers need not tee off over the entrance road.  I like the change as it makes carrying the left side bunkers are more reasonable proposition for more golfers.

The approach is a very cool one to a sunken green and a bunker set atop a hill short of the green to add visual deception.

The 7th is slightly less fearsome than it once was.  In past, the drop-off to the right of the green was more severe and tee shots missing right ran the risk of tumbling the entire 30 yards to the bottom of the hill.  Hawtree has added tiering to the hill meaning that misses to the right won't leave too difficult a recovery.

The 8th has changed significantly as a steep fall-off has been filled-in and moved.  Golfers now must navigate a series of fairway bunkers before approaching another excellent green.

A gorgeous (and very long) par-4 that unfortunately plays very soft because of its low-lying location.  A stream runs parallel to the DZ before crossing the fairway 150 yards short of the green and then running along the right side of the green.  The stream should not be in play, but that doesn't mean it isn't.

Another approach that begs for a running approach as the green and fairway tilt hard toward the water on the right.

The 10th is (was) a very short par-4 routed over wildly rolling terrain.  A new tee has been added near the clubhouse (probably a 300 yard walk from 9 tee) and the hole can no play near 400 yards.  A great green site tucked into the side of a hill.

More changes at the 11th as the fairway has been raised several feet (a good change) and the entire green lasered and moved several feet to the left (a confusing change -- likely a safety issue).  A single fairway bunker guards the ideal angle of approach...

Into a very uphill green that should only be missed short right; but not too far short-right as balls can funnel a long way back down the fairway.

Maybe the best change on the course, the mid-length par-4 12th was once a very awkward hole as everything left of the centerline bunker was rough.  The fairway was too narrow and constrained by trees.  Hawtree has created an interesting tee shot decision, and the convex green remains as perplexing as ever.

The 13th can play over 550 yards, and up the hill, it is no easy par-5.  Many will choose to lay-up to the flat spot in the fairway short of the fairway bunkers and then will be faced with a completely blind second to a fairway with lots of tilt.

The short 14th is very different looking, with many (too many?) bunkers added short of the green.  Despite the intimidating appearance, there is plenty of room between the bunkers and this massive green that tilts toward the golfer and features more micro-contouring than any other green on the course.  I wonder why they didn't take out those trees over the green.

The 15th has had a new back tee added 80 yards back, which is a bit awkward to get to.  The green site at the 15th:

Another very changed hole.  The 16th tee shot was once a thoughtless endeavour with only a single fairway bunker down the left.  Hawtree has added 4 centreline bunkers running diagonally across the fairway that range from 180 yards to carry to about 240.

Playing a second shot short of the fairway bunkering will leave a short but completely blind approach.

The 17th is near 220 yards and is unforgiving.  A very cool coffin bunker on the left has been changed (no idea why).  Bunkers are well short of the green, which calls for a running approach.  Note the proximity to the 18th tee, literally just steps from the green's edge.

The 18th is often cited as a weak spot at Toronto.  The tee shot need only be 200 yards as longer tee shots risk running through the fairway into the parking lot (left) or finding a drop-off that runs through the fairway.  

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