Early this golf season, on a crisp but sunny Saturday of April, my three similarly golf-desperate friends and I made the hour and a half drive down the 416 to Gananoque to play this 2005 Boyd Carr design. I had heard good things from many different people since its creation, but, for no real reason, had never played it myself. Well, after a pleasant day shaking off the collected rust in great company, I can safely and finally grant the course my nihil-obstat, especially considering the reasonable green fee.
The modus-operandi here is utilitarianism, which is simultaneously its strength and its weakness. I think the course is best where the land is less intense, such as on the par 4, 3rd, featuring a clever centre-line bunker and deceptive green; the tumbling par 4th, 6th; and most of the closing stretch from 13th to the ultimate hole.
On a negative front, the greens are a touch small, blandly shaped, and lack internal contouring. And the par 3s are rather mundane as a set, feeling as if they are merely connectors to get from one point, or out of one bottle neck, to the next.
Obviously, it doesn’t seem as if the club spent much (or had much to spend) on rock removal, which results in a handful of holes being awkwardly pinched between the outcrops, or having to navigate around them, most notably on the 1st, 4th, 9th, and 12th. The par 5, 1st, which I hit in two with a 5 iron off the tee followed by a 7 wood second, and sharply uphill par 4, 12th, measuring some 240 yards, are god-awful.
Overall, though, I think this is a good effort from Mr. Carr on a fairly harsh property. I wouldn’t say that this is quite a top 100 quality golf course, but, in truth, I don’t think it’s much worse than Black Bear Ridge, which has been a mainstay of ScoreGolf’s top 100 for years now and carries with it a much higher reputation (for some reason I can’t comprehend).