Weston, Georgian Bay Club, Seguin Valley and then Ridge at Manitou
After a couple of months of looking after my year-old daughter, I finally got to whack it around a golf course some last week. Played Weston, a historic Willie Park Jr. course that was recently given a bunker face lift by my good friend Ian Andrew. Ian came along to play as well, which was great fun. Weston becomes increasingly better each time I play it. It is close to being outstanding.
Then it was off to Georgian Bay Club, a Hurdzan/Fry design that was actually created by Jason Straka. It was also better the second time round. The first time I played it, in mid-summer 2004, I thought it was just OK, with overly busy bunkering. This time I found the vistas to be exceptional and there were more outstanding holes than I recalled, including #1, #3, #17, #18. It is up for Golf Digest's Best New Course in Canada, and though I don't think it is the best I've seen (that's Eagles Nest), it was a lot better than I remembered. A close second, I think.
Then it was off to Seguin Valley, which came recommended to me by the editor of a noted golf publication. This editor felt it was as good as anything in Muskoka, and was the sleeper of the area. He's wrong. While it does feature some pretty great settings, the dull bunkering, which often reminded me of a bad muni, and the simply goofy routing and holes on the back really hurt any feeling I had for the course. There are a couple of great holes, most notably the par five 6th and the terrific 7th (a 210 yard shot over a pond to a green that didn't sport a single bunker). But the strange short ones on the back hurt the course badly. The routing was also among the strangest I've seen in some time -- 3,700 yards on the front nine and barely 3,000 on the back. It struck me there could be a great course on the site, but it wasn't the one the designer (no one can tell me who it is and it wasn't listed in the GD list) decided to try.
Off with Jen, my lovely golf widow, to see the Ridge at Manitou this week. Staying at the terrific Inn at Manitou, which I've heard cracking things about, so we'll see if the course lives up to its reputation. Some pundits are saying it is better than Peter Schwartz's Oviinbyrd, but that remains to be seen.