Even though C.B. Macdonald’s birthplace is the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, neither him, nor his protégé Seth Raynor and subsequently influenced Charles Banks visited Canada to build golf. The closest any of them got? Seth Raynor’s Thousand Islands Country Club, a mere few kilometres from the Ontario border.
What is the significance of these three architects? Starting with C.B. Macdonald at National Golf Links of America, they were responsible for template golf: a series of holes inspired by the best of the bunch in the British Isles. These holes are still replicated in golf architecture today, and holes like the Biarritz or the Redan are among the most popular holes in golf architecture history.
Without a C.B. Macdonald, Seth Raynor, or Charles Banks in Canada, here are where you can find the template holes, scattered across Canada. Some may be direct templates, or perhaps they draw inspiration from them, but either way, these are the holes that we have found that feature elements of C.B. Macdonald’s original vision for North American golf.
We have compiled a list of template holes in Canada, either direct homages, or near-similar concepts, to help Canadians identity places that might feature similar pricipals. C.B. Macdonald is often referred to as the “Father of American Golf Course Architecture,” so it is fascinating to see similar concepts put forth by architects like Stanley Thompson, Jack Nicklaus, Rod Whitman, Doug Carrick, and more.
Editor’s note: there are no known versions of the Long, Road, Narrows, Double Plateau, Lido in Canada, among others. If you do not see a template listed, we could not find one that represents either the spirit of the concept, or an actual homage. Furthermore, this is meant to be a living, breathing document. Not every single close iteration of template golf in Canada will be on this list; leave a comment below if we missed any… we know we did!
The biarritz is characterized as a green with a massive swale in the middle, with the front and back portions high above the middle swale. Frequently, the front pad and the swale can be in the fairway, with the back portion only being green. In the Canadian iterations, they all have the front, back, and the swale cut as green. Generally, they are presented as long par 3’s where the golfer has to choose to either run it through the swale, or get aggressive and fly it closer to the hole location.
Where do I find a Biarritz in Canada?
- Cabot Links, hole 2
- Lookout Point Country Club, hole 6
- Turnberry Golf Club, hole 13
- Club de Golf Grand-Mére, hole 9
- Maple Downs Golf & Country Club, hole 13
- Bear Mountain (Valley), hole 13
A Redan is most common on a middle to long par 3, with a green angled at 45 degrees right-to-left with the green sloping to the back left edge. A bunker short left and a kicker slope short right are mandatory to be considered, and for those who value true authenticity, a bunker long right over the kicker slope, as well as a bunker or two short of the fairway can also be found. If the green is angled left-to-right, it can still count, although it is labelled as a reverse Redan.
Where do I find a Redan in Canada?
- Algonquin Resort, hole 10
- Cobble Beach Golf Links, hole 8
- Maple Downs Golf & Country Club, holes 3, 8, 12, and 18
- Tarandowah Golfers Club, hole 3
- Blackhawk Golf Club, holes 8, 11, 12
- Club de Golf Sainte-Agathe, hole 3
As mentioned, C.B. Macdonald’s template holes came from his ideal design characteristics found in the British Isles. However, from time-to-time, he designed his own templates, which includes the Cape hole. In order to be a true Cape template, the hole must feature a diagonal carry over a hazard of some sort, and then playing to a green with bunkers on the left, right, and long side. We’ve included holes that feel similar to the original inspiration for the Cape, where anything played closer to the hazard on the inside corner gains an advantage of some sort over those who play away from the hazard.
Where do I find a Cape hole in Canada?
- Cabot Cliffs, hole 5
- Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course, hole 14
- Cabot Links, hole 6
Inspired by the par 3, 11th at The Old Course, the Eden’s main characteristics include a heavily tilted green from front-to-back, a collection area or sharp drop off long, with three bunkers: Hill on the left, the Strath bunker short, and Cockleshell bunker shorter than the Strath bunker. Author Luke Steeden summarized the Eden quite well here.
Where do I find an Eden in Canada?
- Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course, hole 12
- Cobble Beach Golf Links, hole 17
The hog’s back template is as it sounds: like a pig’s back, the fairway slopes off to the edges, making it difficult to find the fairway. The specific origins of the Hog’s Back is unknown, though some speculate it comes from the 4th hole at Rye Golf Club.
Where do I find a Hog’s Back in Canada?
- Cabot Cape Breton (Cliffs), hole 7
- Blackhawk Golf Club, hole 5
- Elk Island Golf Course, hole 7
A punchbowl is a simple concept, and in fact, might be the most general template known. Quite literally, imagine a bowl, and then build a green in the bottom of the bowl. In the golden age, the surrounds sat higher than the green with the green gently sloping in, but as time has forced technology to evolve, modern architects have a bit more freedom on how extreme a punchbowl can be (like the aqbove photo of Cabot Cliffs).
Where do I find a Punchbowl in Canada?
- Cabot Cliffs, hole 6
- Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Club, hole 4
In principle, a Lion’s Mouth green features a bunker somewhat in the front centre of the green, with the green wrapping around it on either side to create a distinct from left and front right portion, with the bunker penalizing shots to the wrong side of the bunker. In Canada, greens like that are far and few, but the 2nd at Cabot Cliffs sort of counts, with a similar-ish concept: the contours off the bunker provide the same sort of penalty for hitting it to the wrong side, but the bunker is not as much in play as a usual Lion’s Mouth. Also, knowing Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw’s architecture, they like to build Lion’s Mouth templates, so I give this one a bit of a pass. Like the Eden and Long templates, the Lion’s Mouth origin is traced to The Old Course at the par 4, 13th, though the bunker sits far enough back.
Where do I find a Lion’s Mouth in Canada?
- Cabot Cliffs, hole 2
If the name Alps reminds you of a ski hill, just imagine the template as playing over a ski hill for ants to a green set behind the mountain. Likely oversimplified, but an Alps template is one where the player plays over a hill or ridge to a blind green tucked behind it. The template comes from the 17th hole at Prestwick, the original host of The Open Championship.
Where do I find an Alps in Canada?
- Waskesiu Golf Course, hole 1
- Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course, hole 13
A bottle template is a fancy term for bunkering in the middle of the fairway that specifically asks you to take a route left or right. The hole’s origin can be traced back to Sunningdale’s Old Course. More from our friends over at Bethpage Black Metal, here. Rather than just bunkering in the middle of the fairway to qualify, one route must have a specific route that gains a significant advantage in, but the tee shot is harder.
Where do I find a Bottle in Canada?
- Bigwin Island Golf Club, hole 9
- Blackhawk Golf Club, hole 15
Generally speaking, the Valley template is as it sounds. In order to qualify, a hole must drop off the tee, and play back up to the green. This is obviously a very broad definition, and one that could have numerous candidates. In the spirit of National Golf Links of America, anything below that qualifies as a Valley template will have a wickedly contoured green.
Where do I find a Valley in Canada?
- St. Thomas Golf & Country Club, hole 16
- Hamilton Golf & Country Club (West/South), holes 3, 10, 12
By definition, the Leven is a shorter par 4 with bunkers on one side that must be carried in order to open up an unobstructed view of the green, typically blocked from the weak side by a hill or large bunker. But this is not a pure template list; rather, a list of holes that seem to be inspired—intentionally or unintentionally—by the general principle. For a Leven, the 18th at Taboo, a par 5, features the concept in spirit: an aggressive layup up the right will open up the view of the green, where the more conservative line up the left will feature a blind approach shot in.
Where do I find a Leven in Canada?
- Taboo Resort, hole 18
The “Short” template is as it sounds: a short hole, meant to challenge a players shorter club with accuracy. The concept comes from Royal West Norfolk‘s 4th hole, though when C.B. Macdonald saw it, it would have been the 5th at Brancaster. In various MacRaynor variations, the “Short” featured a thumbprint in the middle, making pins on the outside difficult to access, and pins on the inside easier. The only variation in any of our travels to feature a thumbprint, or a variation of, is Stanley Thompson’s par 3, 16th at Green Gables.
Where do I find a Short in Canada?
- Victoria Golf Club, hole 8
- Green Gables Golf Club, hole 16
A Knoll template is, as James Braid wrote, “a small, round hill” and placing a green atop that hill. Some might call it a volcano hole, others might refer to it as Knoll. Either way, the concept is simple: a green on top of a hill where it falls off on all sides.
Where do I find a Knoll in Canada?
- Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Club, hole 6
While a Principal’s Nose is generally included in the Double Plateau template, there are two notable examples of the concept worthy of its own inclusion. The bunkering pattern, often consisting of two bunkers acting as nostrils and one as the bone of a nose (usually hidden behind the nostrils) originated at The Old Course.
Where do I find a Principal’s Nose in Canada?
- Blackhawk Golf Club, hole 13
- Cabot Cliffs, hole 2
Did we miss any? Drop a comment below and we will add them!