In ‘500 or less,’ author Alex Hunter discusses a golf course in 500 words or less to provide a quick overview. Furthermore, the series introduces a “star rating,” which is based off an opinion on fun factor/repeatability, walkability, routing/design aspects, plus cost & conditioning. Check back in next month for the next instalment of the series!
Nestled into the small town of Port Carling, Ontario is the picturesque Port Carling Golf Club, an early Thomas McBroom design which features pronounced elevation changes, many distinctive rocky outcroppings, large flowing bunkers, and a magnificently beautiful clubhouse.
Utilizing the dramatic and beautiful geography to its advantage and boasting some incredible playing conditions, Port Carling is a modest 6400 yards from the back tees, but I would say it plays significantly longer and harder than the scorecard may advertise.
Holes & Features of Interest
The short Par 4, 5th, is beautiful and challenging. The tee shot plays to a dogleg left, routing over the rocky outcroppings. The short approach shot plays to a green tucked up and guarded by one of the many large bunkers found around the property. A superb short Par 4.
The course is defined by major elevation changes. The best example is at the Par 5 8th; the ~75-foot drop from the tee to fairway is thrilling to look at and play. Though, typically not my favourite design style, the beautiful natural geography of Port Carling elevates this design feature quite well. The tee shot tumbles down into the valley, while the second and even third shots play way uphill, likely blind coming home.
The unique arrow shaped clubhouse is featured prominently behind the green on the Par 3, 9th. The green tilts from left to right, sitting diagonally from the golfers, and a large bunker guarding the entire right side of the green offers a nice visual composition. Additionally, the lengthy tee shot is both challenging and can be nerve-wracking with onlookers from the patio.
On the back nine, the more subdued land is nicely composed by the large bunkers and water hazards, further defining the 13th hole, another great short Par 4. The fairway bunkers are well-placed, and the green tucked into the side of the lake makes for a challenging short approach shot. The undulations in this green a more subtle than some others, but works well in concert with the other features to make this hole particularly fun.
The Par 4, 15th snakes its way down then back up and is nicely composed with many bunkers up both sides of the fairway. Another stunning hole to look at visually and tricky one to play.
The signature hole at Port Carling certainly is the Par 3 16th. The Augusta-like Par 3 requires a long downhill tee shot to cover the pond and be carefully placed into the correct section of the green.
The 18th is another highlight at PC. The tee shot plays from the forest back out over the large pond, begging the golfer to see how much they can chew off. Those large flowing bunkers are strewed up the left side of the hole and one also guards the front right portion of the green which is tucked back up into the hillside. The great closing stretch from 15-18 finishes off the round nicely.