Weston Golf Club
In occasionally driving rain, I had the chance today to head out and see Willie Park's Weston Golf and Country Club, an interesting a historic private club in North Toronto.
The course is one of the private tracks that have really suffered in recent years, with membership getting older and fewer members coming on. It is an issue facing numerous private clubs across North America these days -- and a number in Toronto, including Thornhill and Summit.
What did Weston do about it? They hired Ian Andrew, my friend who works for Doug Carrick, to restore their bunkers. Interestingly, in his research Andrew found that Park never did complete the bunker work at Weston -- that fell to Harry Colt associate Charles Allison after Park became ill and went back to England.
Ian's version of Allison's work is interesting -- chunky bunkers with random lines have really brought the course to life. Occasionally the lines are not as random, which can be a bit distracting, but largely the work looks and plays wonderfully. Visually the new bunkers stand out and make the rough lines and green surrounds more distinct. They are also quite intimidating, though they are not all that difficult to play out of.
So what does this leave Weston with? For some reason prospective members aren't coming to the club, despite its prime location. The course itself is great -- 6,800 from the tips, with several stunning par fours -- including the 5th and 6th, with their dramatic tee shots and excellent approaches -- and the 18th, one of Canada's great closers. The fives are a bit mundane and the threes are average. It is a strong course, though it still lacks the charm of Scarboro Golf and Country Club, which features Old World quirkiness that really appeals to me. But for those that like their golf a bit more straight ahead, you won't find any blind shots at Weston and with a series of great fours, it has an added toughness factor.
Weston was once regarded as one of Canada's great courses. Arnold Palmer won his first tour event at the course. Surprisingly, when Palmer returned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his win at Weston, the club kept most of the event closed to the public. What a mistake -- it provided a great chance for the public (ie prospective members) to come and see the course and fall in love with it.
So far that hasn't happened, but with its face lifted a touch, Weston might just get a second look.