3. Hamilton Golf & Country Club (West-South), Ancaster

Hamilton - No 9 Fairway - 1

No. 9 Fairway – Hamilton Golf & Country Club

Score: 67.24

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the informal unveiling of the Harry S. Colt classic. What was then a 6,350-yard par-73 has evolved into a 6,928-yard par-70, but it remains one of North America’s great parkland courses and among golf’s finest testaments to enduring design. “It’s as beautiful and great a golf course as I had heard. I love the look of every hole,” acknowledged 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose during the 2012 RBC Canadian Open, one of five such events Hamilton G&CC has hosted.

Colt’s seamless routing through hills, valleys and tree-lined corridors to tricky green complexes places a premium on tee shot placement, which itself requires constant shot shaping. The experience climaxes with the brilliant 442-yard 18th, played into and out of a valley. Although a serpentine creek awaits any overly aggressive tee shot, laying up well short of that hazard means a long-iron approach to a diabolical green set in a hill below the regal clubhouse, with a back-to-front slope that continually frays the nerves of both members and PGA Tour professionals alike.

“Beautiful and mature, it lays on the land as if nature intended this for golf,” says panelist David Sanders. “Capable of hosting the Canadian Open without the excesses the USGA imposes on its venues, it features solid golf throughout. I could play this beauty every day.”

“The plunging fairways and classic design features combine to exude a memorable sense of history and ambiance that simply cannot be effectively duplicated with modern designs; it takes time,” says Ted Wilson. “Try remembering during your round, for example, that Bobby Jones played here in the 1919 Canadian Open—and the list goes on and on.”

Adds Mike Shapira: “After playing Hamilton it is easy to see why Colt is regarded as one of the greatest architects of all time. Outstanding green sites and a tremendous routing providing varied and outstanding shot values are evidence of that genius. The non-Colt elements and egregiously soft conditions hold this masterpiece back, though. Give Hamilton a restoration faithful to Colt and let it play firm and fast and it is the runaway No. 1 course in the province.”

 

PANEL COMMENTS

 “Simply the best facility in Ontario—27 holes, short course, big driving range, caddie program, tradition and history.” —Rob McDannold

 “Harry Colt makes you think on every shot, but he also distracts you with the timeless beauty of the place.” —Garry McKay

 “As soon as you step onto the property you can feel the pride and tradition of this legendary course. Brilliant changes of elevation and superb green placements make it a real shot-maker’s paradise. Count yourself lucky if you ever get a chance to play this masterpiece of golf.” —Santino Pompeo

 “The tree removal project has opened vistas of previously hidden landscape and has enhanced the turf quality—a great decision.” —Anne Edgar Dodds-Hebron

 “A championship course for everyone!” —Liz Hoffman

 “Harry Colt took a grand piece of land and gave the province of Ontario one of its crowned jewels. Hamilton remains an experience for every one of a golfer’s senses.” —Rick Young

 “The Ontario course and property that most resemble a traditional U.S. Open venue. Boasting a third nine and a replica par-3 course, Hamilton has aged very well over the years and, with a bit of extra length and added bunkers, could qualify as the permanent home of our Canadian Open.” —George Bedard

 “Nothing but positive feedback from PGA Tour players who have had the opportunity to play the best golf courses in the world.” —Marcus Strom

“Hamilton seems to be slipping down the rankings and doesn’t compete among the top three anymore, in my mind. It is in need of a solid renovation to bring back the Harry Colt feel to a course that may have the best golf course property in the province. It still has the best finishing hole in Ontario, though.” —T.J. Rule

“The fact that Hamilton is held in such high esteem despite desperately needing a proper restoration is evidence of how good it is. You know you are on a special property when you play here, but I just can’t shake the thought that it could be so much better if they re-introduced some ruggedness and cut down a lot more trees.” —Matt MacKay

“An incredible, classic layout with a great golf atmosphere. This is Canada’s Winged Foot.” —Henry Brunton

“Quite simply, this is one of the best golf experiences we have in our country.” —Craig Loughry

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