Oviinbyrd and Devil's Paintbrush
Had the opportunity to set foot on Oviinbyrd, the new, super-private course developed in Muskoka, Ont.
Created by Tom McBroom, owner Peter Schwartz has developed the best course in Muskoka, with wide fairways, strategy and lots and lots of drama. I'm sure Peter wants this kept as quiet as possible, but this will be a course that attracts its share of attention, even if he doesn't want it.
The interesting point about Oviinbyrd is that McBroom has created a version of a Doug Carrick course. What I mean is that Oviinbyrd is a course of strategic angles, often bunkered on the inside of the angle. That allows players to challenge the bunkers in order to play for the best position, or play it safe and have a longer approach.
The opening hole is straight-ahead, but offers a good presentation of what is to come -- holes wandering between large trees with subtle use of rock.
The standout holes on the golf course were largely on the back nine -- specifically the stretch from 12 through 17. The finishing hole, 18, is a reachable par five, but I found the water to the left of the green to be a bit formulamatic. After all, how many finishing holes use water next to the green as the hazard? Too many, in my estimation, though McBroom hasn't done it all that often.
I'll do a full review when I head back up to play Oviinbyrd in June (NOTE: The full review can be found here.) It is certain to be one of the most exclusive courses in Canada, with 3,000 rounds a year.
The other track I saw recently, for a third time, was Devil's Paintbrush, designed by Michael Hurdzan and Dana Frye, which first opened in the early 1990s. Designed as a modern heathland course, the Paintbrush's reputation continues to grow each year. The best on the course, like the 17th with its strange green or the 11th with a tree in the middle of the green, use quirkiness to great effect. A remarkable course.