500 or Less: Kawartha Golf & Country Club
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 February for the 2nd instalment of the series!
- Peterborough, Ontario
- Semi-private — mostly member play, with some public tee times available
- Stanley Thompson (1932 & 1937)
- 44th best golf course in Canada (Beyond The Contour)
Kawartha Golf and Country Club is a semi-private club that allows public play during designated times. There are so many great holes and features at Kawartha, I can’t possibly discuss them all in 500 or less. It is a must-visit.
Kawartha is not long by modern standards, playing as a Par 71 at ~6300 yards. Thompson built a great set of greens, which is complimented by some of the best bunkering in Canada. Routed across gently rolling land, with substantial but gradual elevation changes, it is a great walk and a challenge for any golfer.
A previous land sale resulted in a routing change implemented in late 2022, with the addition of two replacement holes – a new Par 3 (12th) and Par 5 (17th). They also updated the 16th hole (previously 14th) to a straight away Par 4 – this is much improved. Additionally, a tree removal program has opened up the course. Ian Andrew has been instrumental with restoration and other programs.
Holes and Features of Interest
The Par 4, 2nd, is a standout. The slightly downhill dogleg left requires a tee shot placed to the centre-right side of the fairway. Framed beautifully by a set of bunkers, the green sits tilted away from the fairway from right to left. There is a wicked centre ridge which diagonally separates its two tiers.
The dogleg right Par 4, 3rd, is guarded on the inside by a large tree. Another set of bunkers and hummocks around the green frame the target nicely.
Kawartha offers great variety in Par 3’s. In particular, the contrast between the 6th, which is a 223-yard uphill beast and the 8th, a remarkable short downhill one-shot.
The 11th is my favourite hole at Kawartha, playing down the hillside. With a hanging lie, small creek crossing directly in front of the narrow green, which is framed by another set of great bunkers, there is a lot of risk. A layup (gasp), pitch and putt give a great birdie opportunity.
The finishing hole at Kawartha is one of the most memorable in Canada. A Par 3 that plays over water, surrounded by more of Thompson’s beautifully bunkering, makes for a great finishing hole.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the two holes introduced in 2022 are unlike any others here. This is a small shortfall, as the lost 15th and 16th were excellent holes. However, it is conceivable that developing new holes to match the rest of the course is challenging.