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Hole Overviews

Front 9

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    Hole 1
    Par 4 (411 yards)

    A straight-forward opening tee shot with out-of-bounds down the right side. Most players will take their shot down the left side of the fairway making sure to avoid the new fairway bunkers. They must decide if they want to land the tee shot on the large flat landing area or run their ball down the slope for a closer shot to the green. Some will hit driver, others will opt for a 3-wood or even less, depending on conditions. It will be a short-iron or wedge for most to an elevated green with bunkers to the left and right.

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    Hole 2
    Par 4 (457 yards)

    A challenging tee shot (driver for most) over a small but deep valley to a slightly elevated fairway with out-of-bounds down the right side. This hole has been lengthened 15 yards off the tee with a new back tee. Strategic fairway bunkers on the right and left sides have been added that pinch the landing area. A mid-iron shot to another well-protected green that slopes slightly from back to front. You don’t want to be long here as the greenside swale drops significantly off the back of the green.

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    Hole 3
    Par 4 (401 yards)

    From an elevated tee, the hole falls about 50 feet to a two-tiered fairway and plays over Ancaster Creek. The bottom section, 255 yards out, is only 18 yards wide. A lay-up off the tee to the upper portion of the fairway is preferred. This leaves the player with 150 to 165 yards to an extremely well-bunkered, elevated green cut
    into the side of a hill. The green slopes from back to front. Missing the putting surface makes for a difficult up and down. If the shot is short, the ball will most likely roll back to the bottom of the steep slope.

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    Hole 4
    Par 5 (542 yards)

    This is definitely a driving hole. The straightforward par-5 can be reached in two, but players will have to avoid the trees that flank both sides, a new series of fairway bunkers down the right side of the fairway and a deep swale which has been cut in towards the fairway on the left. If errant off the tee, players will have to negotiate the cross-bunker 90 yards from this well-bunkered, sloping green, which falls off to the right. It played as the second easiest hole at the 2019 RBC Canadian Open with a four-day scoring average of 4.650 strokes.

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    Hole 5
    Par 4 (346 yards)

    A true risk-reward hole, No. 5 gives the gambler an opportunity to hit the driver or perhaps a 3-wood and go for the green. It’s an uphill, slight dogleg right with the green on a small plateau. Playing aggressively brings the deep bunkers and steeply sloping green surrounds into play while laying up leaves a ball above or below your stance on this narrow, mounded fairway. The perched green offers many subtle breaks, and the roll-off collars run aggressively away from the green around the majority of the green. The green site offers one of the best views at Hamilton.

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    Hole 6
    Par 3 (249 yards)

    It’s been a long wait, but this is the first of four very strong par-3s and not much of a breather. It was the second most difficult hole at the 2019 RBC Canadian Open with a four-day scoring average of 3.189. A total of 25 yards have been added making it the longest of the par-3s. Surrounded by woods, the hole plays entirely across a picturesque valley to a slightly raised putting surface. Right of the green slopes severely down into the woods and lost-ball territory. Although larger than it used to be, the green is protected by a couple of serious bunkers.

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    Hole 7
    Par 4 (447 yards)

    This uphill, dogleg-left par-4 is protected by two treacherous bunkers down the left side and is tree-lined to the right. It features a new back tee deck tucked well into the woods, adding 35 yards to the hole. The second shot plays to an elevated, undulating green 50 feet above the fairway. A deep bunker and large bentgrass swales await errant shots, but the green is the true challenge.

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    Hole 8
    Par 3 (207 yards)

    The secluded tee shot can make club selection perplexing as it’s difficult to predict the impact of the wind. The ball crosses a valley to a wide-open green that has been lowered by ten feet to make it more receptive to shots. The green has more undulation than most and slopes slightly from back to front with bunkers to the right and left.

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    Hole 9
    Par 4 (436 yards)

    This straightaway hole usually plays downwind from an elevated tee to a narrow fairway that’s only 25 yards wide where the second of the two new fairway bunkers constricts the landing area. The fairway slopes slightly left to right, leaving some tee balls in the right rough. The two new back-to-back fairway bunkers on the right side and another a little further down on the left will make the pros think twice about club selection. The green is elevated with an open front but with bunkers squeezed tightly to the left and right of the green. Another hole you don’t want to be short on, or the ball will roll back down the slope in the approach.

Back 9

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    Hole 10
    Par 4 (386 yards)

    This elevated tee leads to a fairway 50 feet below that slopes significantly left to right although an original section of elevated fairway has been restored to the left. There is one bunker running up the left side and one bunker and a hazard area down the right. The second shot is to an elevated green that is protected by five bunkers, three to the left and two to the right. A 3-wood off the tee is recommended, since keeping the ball in the fairway is the first priority. From there, a wedge shot below the hole is in order. Any shot long makes for a difficult par save as the green has a string slope from back to front.

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    Hole 11
    Par 4 (502 yards)

    This tough dogleg left par-4 is 21 yards longer than it was in 2019 and features an elevated tee to the fairway 45 feet below. Large trees at the corner of the dogleg may prevent all but the longest hitters from taking the shortcut. Two new bunkers at the corner of the dogleg on the right side make for a good target from the tee with the first one being 320 yards from the tee. The fairway then slopes significantly uphill to an elevated green that falls from back to front with a monster bunker to the right. Another hole you don’t want to be short on, or the ball will roll back down the slope.

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    Hole 12
    Par 4 (380 yards)

    Probably not a driver hole, but it will be tempting for some. This par-4 has a thick stand of trees running up the right side with two strategic bunkers to navigate and a penalty area up the left. The elevated tee plays downhill to a narrow 22-yard-wide fairway that gently doglegs left. The approach is played uphill to a blind green set in an amphitheatre with a bunker at the front left corner of the green. There is a significant step in the green but less than the previous version which was very severe.

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    Hole 13
    Par 3 (209 yards)

    Known as the ‘Rink Hole’, No. 13 will be surrounded by towering observation areas and suites and rowdy fans. From an elevated tee, players hit over a wide valley to an undulating and angled green. A false front makes this hole play to its true yardage. There’s one deceptive bunker well short of the green on the right and another near the front left corner of the green. Coming up short on your tee ball could leave a blind 50-yard uphill second shot.

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    Hole 14
    Par 4 (474 yards)

    The hole has been extended by 24 yards, so driver will definitely come into play more often. The blind tee shot means players can’t see a large fairway bunker 350 yards out on the right side, but one is visible down the left side. From the middle of the fairway the second shot will require a mid-iron to a small green with one protective bunker off the left front cutting across more than half of the green. There is a challenging flag position which can be tucked in behind the dominating bunker and steep banks to the right and rear of the green provide added protection.

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    Hole 15
    Par 4 (420 yards)

    This dogleg right features cross-bunkers diagonally angled across the line of play that require a carry of between 270 to 295 yards depending upon how far right the drive is played. The second shot will be a short-iron to a large putting surface well-bunkered green protected by two bunkers to the right and one on the left. There is a soft ridge running across the green around two thirds back which will mean that precise distance control will be required.

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    Hole 16
    Par 3 (180 yards)

    The shortest of the par-3s runs uphill to yet another green well-protected by severely deep bunkers on the left and one in the approach to the right which should not come into play for the Canadian Open competitor. Pin positions will be tough to get close to when they are tight to the left. Choosing the right club is the key here.

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    Hole 17
    Par 5 (580 yards)

    Even though it is now 30 yards longer, this par-5 will provide plenty of birdie opportunities and even eagles to players who have an extra gear off the tee. In 2019 it played as the easiest hole on the course with a four-day scoring average of 4.449. It’s a straightforward hole from an elevated tee with trees guarding both sides of the fairway. There are now a series of three bunkers in a staggered pattern to the left and right of the first landing area. From the second landing area to the green, six bunkers, including one in the middle of the approach area, need to be navigated. There is an entirely new green site that has been pushed back and to the left which will provide real challenge as it slopes to the rear so it will be easy to overshoot, especially to the rear pin positions.

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    Hole 18
    Par 4 (457 yards)

    The toughest hole during the 2019 RBC Canadian Open with a four-day scoring average of 4.258. This classic finale demands precise positioning off this elevated tee. With an additional 11 yards added, Ancaster Creek snakes across the fairway 295 yards out, so a three-wood or hybrid is the prudent play for most as the fairway slopes to the creek. The approach shot climbs 175-200 yards uphill—often from an uneven lie—to a green set in a giant amphitheatre below the beautiful clubhouse with bunkers on each side that act as sentinels. A tough final putt any day, but with thousands of cheering fans watching on, anything could happen when the tournament is on the line. One of golf’s greatest finishing holes!



Course Restoration

Starting in the fall of 2019, Martin Ebert of the UK-based design firm Mackenzie & Ebert, International Golf Course Architects, guided an historic renovation of the club’s 27 holes.

The goal of the ambitious restoration was to include many of the classic features initially designed by Colt that were lost to time, and establish continuity with East course, initially crafted by Robbie Robinson.

The $11.5 million renovation, which took two years to complete, was awarded the “Best New Restoration” by Golf Digest for 2022. The result was a complete rebuild of all 27 greens, extensive bunker adjustments, while sympathetically returning many of the key design elements from the course’s past.

Video produced by Cookie Jar Golf