SCORECARD – St. George’s Golf & Country Club
The opening hole is very typical of Stanley Thompson, the absence of fairway bunkers and bowl-shaped fairway is a gentle welcome to the course. But the green features a large false front, steep contours and is surrounded by bunkers placing a premium on the approach.
Golf architect Ian Andrew believes the second hole at St. George’s to be the best long par four in Canada. It begins will a daunting tee shot over the diagonal valley which must avoid an extremely deep fairway bunker set on the far right in order to set up a long iron into a narrow and complicated green surrounded on the sides and back by elegant Thompson bunkers.
The 3rd hole was recently restored to Stanley Thompson’s original design. While many players may be intimidated by what seems to be fronting bunkers, the shrewd play is just over them using the 40 yard fairway downslope hidden on the other side to run the ball into this notoriously steep green.
The 4th hole plays as a par five for members, but sets up as a long par-4 for PGA TOUR players and the RBC Canadian Open. After a tough opening shot, this hole plays into an elevated green.
Play is down a gentle valley but unless you can find the upper plateau on the right, you are left with an approach to an angled green that falls away to the right. It’s not the clearly visible front bunkers that you should fear, but the very deep right side one that collects all shots that run through the green.
Thompson’s pitch hole has been returned to its original yardage which balances the opportunity to score with the dire consequence of missing your approach. And even if you find the green, the steep contours and large roll in back will still conspire to produce a disappointing three putt.
The strength of St. George’s is the abundance of great long fours. The 7th green site is one of the courses strongest with three complicated locations all separated by large elevation change. The front and back right feature backstops, but the upper left pin is best accessed using the fairway in front.
A very long par three where short, long and left will leave you with an impossible recovery shot. The secret to this hole is understanding that it was designed for match-play. The prudent play is to the fairway short right of the green where getting up and down is often routine.
This is one of the wider fairways, where you only need to avoid the bunkers and allow the ball to slide to the left of the fairway. The green was relocated back to the present location by Robbie Robinson and features a strong central swale dividing higher front and back pins.
This hole presents an interesting conundrum off the tee, the ideal lay-up is to a tiny plateau, playing to the bottom creates a blind approach and a driver into the upslope brings the bunkers into play. But choose wisely since the approach is to a shallow angled green made to receive a short iron.
Like all the fives at St. George’s, this one is full of opportunity. Play aggressively down the valley to open up the choices on the second shot. The green is narrow and slowly disappears behind the hillside full of bunkers. Just short is almost always the best choice.
One of Stanley Thompson’s finest architectural moments. He actually increased the height of the left hills by six feet to make those fairway bunkers even more dramatic. Play safely right and then aim for the right center and hope your approach stays short leaving an uphill putt.
Another long par three, but in this case it’s downwind and downhill so take one less club. The green gets steeper as it goes from left to right, so consider left center the best target regardless of pin locations.
The toughest hole at St. George’s begins with a tee shot where you must avoid the out of bounds on the left, while negotiating a fairway that slopes hard to the creek on the right. Even the approach is tough because the small green is so flat and not receptive to shots.
Tom Doak said the long 15th, with its green site set atop a hill added by architect Robbie Robinson prior to the 1968 Canadian Open, is the most memorable and intimidating of the entire eighteen.
If the hole wasn’t hard enough already, Stanley Thompson came back and added the rear bunkers to make sure every miss was objectionable. This is clearly the most difficult of all the par threes because it’s deceivingly uphill to one of the smallest greens featuring a massive false front.
This hole began as a par five from the current back tee and now plays as an enormous par four. The toughest aspect is the narrow crowned green that sheds all but a perfect approach into the waiting bunkers on either side.
Originally a par five, the 18th hole was converted into a long four to make a more challenging finish for the RBC Canadian Open. The hole plays uphill all the way to a very steep green surrounded by bunkers and back dropped by the spectacular clubhouse across the road.