The largest city in Canada, with a population of 6.5 million people, Toronto is situated in the central province of Ontario. The golf season runs from early April thru the end of October during which time the area averages 50 days of rain and a median temperature of 19C. Optimal times for golf trips are April – May and September – October for weather and course conditions. This list of public courses is arguably the best composition of tracks you can play in the Greater Toronto Area based on playability, value and design beauty.
Glen Abbey Golf Club
A Jack Nicklaus design that has hosted the Canadian Open 25 times the Glen Abbey Golf Club is home to the Canada Golf Hall of Fame and is the former home of Golf Canada. One of the unique features is the portion of the course known as the valley holes. You enter this stretch on No. 11, a par 4, when your tee shot is off a cliff to a fairway on the valley floor that is 6 floors below. Your second shot must then carry Sixteen Mile Creek, a hazard that winds through the valley on holes 11 thru 15. After finishing 15, a difficult par 3, the players hike back up out of the valley to start the finishing stretch. Like fine wine, this one keeps getting better with age.
Angus Glen Golf Club – North Course
Just north of Toronto in the suburb of Markham is the 36 hole complex Angus Glen. The North Course is Scottish inland influenced with its high fescue grass and sod wall bunkers. It was re-imaged by Davis Love III prior to hosting the Canadian Open Championship in 2007. The best description for the two tracks is variety. The North Course has jagged, fescue covered, windswept dunes and up to 4-foot-deep sod wall bunkers that portray a distinctive Scottish feel. Bentgrass tee boxes, fairways and greens that are maintained to the highest standards make this 7203 yard monster a tour worthy test. Only a short 30 minute car ride from city center, you will undoubtedly be impressed with this layout.
Angus Glen Golf Club – South Course
The South Course tips out at 7332 yards and is heavily bunkered with rolling fairways and a complex routing that will have even the lightest breezes feel like swirling gales. Water comes into play on 8 holes making precise ball striking the key for your day. The South Course, the host course for the 2002 Open Championship recently underwent a $6 million renovation by the renowned team of Mackenzie & Ebert and is scenic and eminently playable by all skill levels. The best description for the two tracks is variety.
Copper Creek Golf Club
Considered one of the finest public courses in Canada, this championship layout in the Toronto suburb of Kleinburg is a study in spectacular. Beginning with the stunning views from the gorgeous clubhouse to the panoramas on virtually every one of the 18 spectacular holes in the lovely Humber Valley. A parkland style course with large oak trees defining corners of doglegs and sand traps that outline greens and capture wayward shots, your focus will be tested with every swing and putt. At 6338 yards from the blue tees. The tightness of the fairways is Copper Creek Golf Club‘s best defense. The closing stretch of 16 – 18 leaves one feeling as though they are in the grips of a boa constrictor, so tight are the lines and so imperative are your positions on each hole in order for you to play around corners and access pin positions on the greens. Copper Creek is home to the guaranteed 4 ½ hour round.
Piper’s Heath Golf Links
Perhaps the best kept secret in the GTA is Piper’s Heath Golf Links situated in the Toronto outskirts of Milton. A Graham Cooke design, Pipers Heath is a walkable loop that plays between 5200 and 7000 yards and as such is suitable for all skill levels. When played from the gold blocks it is a daunting 7017 yards and typically plays every inch of that distance. Holes like the 430 yard par 4 second feature a fairway design that runs perpendicular to the tee and then angles away from the putting surface for your approach. The same can be said for the 588 yard par 5 fifteenth where you are required to land your drive and second shots on certain sides of the fairway to facilitate a better angle for your next attempt. The architect said he wanted to create an experience “of anticipation with changing looks and scenes around every corner”. Play it and you will say mission accomplished.
Osprey Valley Golf Club – Heathlands Course
If links style is your desire, try Heathlands, with its rolling fairways, pot bunkers and fescue. At 6810 yards from the championship pegs, this pure Scottish influenced design is a stern a test as can be found among the public links in the entire province. Number four the short par 5 named Heich O’ Fash is the signature hole with its two-tiered fairway that offers risk reward options and where the hole position on the green dictates into which fairway to place your tee shot. You will discover that every shot can be played with multiple options producing similar results, the sign of a true links style track. Don your kilt, find a strong will, and journey to Ol’ Scotland, just 15 minutes from downtown Montreal.
Saint Andrew’s Valley Golf Club
St Andrew’s Valley Golf Club in nearby Aurora is a fine option for players of all levels. One of the frontrunners for the tee-it forward program in Canada, this highly decorated 18-hole championship course is suitable for any level of player. Five sets of tees allow you to find a length that is suited to your ability so you can control the distance you play at. With over 100 sand traps and water in play on 14 of the holes, trouble looms on most long shots. More importantly however is your position when you arrive at the multi-tiered, highly contoured green complexes. The large bent grass surfaces are sneaky quick and the best advice is to keep the ball below the hole whenever possible. As with most rounds, the putter is the key to scoring, however at St Andrews Valley this fact is magnified. With weekend fees starting at $54 CDN, the value is only surpassed by the condition and playability of the Valley Course itself.