Review: Oakdale Golf & Country Club (Canadian Open Composite Routing)
This year, the PGA TOUR and Golf Canada heads to Oakdale Golf & Country Club for the RBC Canadian Open, its first time hosting in the club’s 100-ish year history. The facility will also host in 2026, using a composite routing of its three nines: the Thompson, Homenuik, and Knudson. The Thompson and Homenuik nines, designed by Stanley Thompson, make up the front nine, while the Knudson nine is the back nine for the championship.
Golf Canada’s Media Day was yesterday, though no one from Beyond The Contour was there. Nevertheless, it is a good time to start gearing up for Canada’s National Championship, especially off the heels of Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Shane Lowry, and Tommy Fleetwood confirming they will be teeing it up in early June.
For my money, the Thompson & Homenuik nine are the better 18 hole combination at Oakdale. Coincidentally, that combination is also the one that ranks 73rd in Canada, according to this website’s panel. However, the golf course is pretty short and not really feasible for hosting an event of such size (the largest-ever Canadian Open according to Golf Canada). As a result, the golf course is made up of nine holes from the Knudson, 4 from the Thompson, and five from the Homenuik.
Hole 1 || 1st Hole, Thompson
The RBC Canadian Open routing begins on the 1st hole of the Thompson, listed as a 379 yard par 4. The tee shot dives into the valley below, with a bunker up the left, and one right. For most, this will be less than driver; from a player perspective, it will be very similar to the opening hole at St. George’s where there is little, if any, gain for driver, although the holes are stylistically much different.
The approach is much different than the 1st at St. George’s, where a missed fairway with Canadian Open rough can be chased up in hopes of getting it up the slope. At Oakdale, the green is perched above the low area surrounding the green, with a pretty aggressive front right tongue that I’m not sure is pin-able.
Hole 2 || 3rd Hole, Thompson
After walking the short par 3, 2nd on the Thompson, the routing brings us to the third on the Thompson course, a short 4 of 384 yards playing uphill towards Jane Street.
This is a sneaky uphill par 4, and the narrow fairway will still require the golfers attention with the typical Canadian Open thick spring rough. The green is particularly undulating, and heavily tilts back down to the valley the golfer just came out of.
Hole 3 || 8th Hole, Thompson
From the 3rd on Thompson, we skip a handful of holes to the 8th hole on that same nine, a converted par 5 to a long par 4 at 489. This begins the longest stretch of golf in the country, ending on the Canadian Open 7th. The meat of the front nine measures 489, 470, 463, 473, 590, making up 34% of the total 7,264 length at just 29% of the par 72 price tag. It is a difficult tee shot, with the fairway pinching in the landing zone. I imagine this might frustrate players, especially considering the fairway tilts to the left with thick rough surrounding the hole.
This is a pretty neat hole, though. The green is small and undulating—naturally, for a hole built as a par 5—and I suspect will be one of the harder holes on the golf course during the week.
The green surrounds are more dynamic and interesting for the par 3, 2nd on the Thompson course—which will not be in play—but they are still fun. Missing left can be problematic.
Hole 4 || 9th Hole, Thompson
Those who have played Oakdale will recognize the order of the 3rd and 4th hole of the Canadian Opening routing, and it’s the first time we play holes in succession of the actual routing for member play. A par 4 at 470 yards, the tee shot drops down into the valley, cut off by a stream (more on that later). This fairway has been narrowed considerably, and the new mowing lines were pretty obvious on my visit in 2022.
Playing opposite of the opening hole, this approach shot vaults itself up the hillside to the base of the clubhouse. The green is heavily tilted back down to the front edge, and is certainly a challenge. If it were me, I likely would have had this be the finishing hole. You can keep the same routing, and start golfers off the 1st Homenuik and 4th hole Knudson (closer to the Canadian Open practice facility). The 18th hole will be a talking point, I think, but more on that later.
Hole 5 || 1st Hole, Homenuik
At 463 yards, this is a bit of a reprieve against the last two, though still longer. It is a pretty great two-shot hole, and comfortably among the upper echelon of holes on Oakdale’s entire property, but especially the Canadian Open routing, which obviously had to choose the long, beefy holes over some of the more charismatic stuff left out (for good reason). The tee shot plays over an east-west ridge, although it does not come into play and is more visual than anything.
After cresting the ridge, this is the first example in the Canadian Open routing of Thompson’s artistic bunkering flair, which sort of mirages together. It is not an optical illusion or anything crazy, but it is nice to look at, and I bet this will look pretty good on TV.
Hole 6 || 2nd Hole, Homenuik
The 6th hole is the second of two converted par 5’s, and on the scorecard I was given when I visited the club, it lists the yardage at 539 yards, par 4, although the official RBC Canadian Open scorecard on the website says 473. Too bad, 539 yards, par 4 is certainly not unprecedented: Chambers Bay has one that is 555, and I’m sure Erin Hills had one as well. Nevertheless, this fairway is wickedly undulating and will possibly be the hardest hole on the golf course.
The entirety of the hole runs up the slope back to Jane Street like the 2nd hole of the Canadian Open routing, which is potentially why the shorter, updated yardage. Maybe they’ll move it around? 70~ yards is quite the difference.
Hole 7 || 4th Hole, Homenuik
Once again, the routing skips a par 3, this time skipping the third hole on the Homenuik nine to head to the downhill par 5, 7th. At 590 yards, it is long on paper and the fairway severely tilts to the right, but I suspect more people will hit this green in two against the 15th hole at St. George’s from last year, for example, which is uphill all the way. You will see some really long tee shots here, and would be a fun spot to watch them smash it.
In the event of a layup, the golfer will have to choose between up top, or down below. To be honest, I don’t really remember which is better and I don’t remember the length from each spot. What I do know, however, is missing left is more than likely a lost ball. You get a good sense of the severity of the fairway below…
…and the two layup spots.
Hole 8 || 8th hole, Homenuik
From this point inward, the golf course follows the same order as if someone played the Homenuik/Knudson routing, beginning with the 8th hole on the Homenuik, a short par 4 at 354 yards. I will be interested to see if Golf Canada moves these tees up to try and bait golfers into going for the green, but it is not exactly the best drivable par 4 as visability is low. It is a fine drive and pitch hole, though, with the tee shot working its way around a creek.
The aforementioned creek, below. Driver actually removes the prospect of hitting it into the creek, but it becomes a difficult pitch to a green tucked into a small shelf.
This is a sporty little green site into the hillside, with some pretty aggressive movement for such a small green.
Hole 9 || 9th Hole, Homenuik
The first of just three par 3’s comes at the finishing hole on the outward nine. Measuring 193 yards, it won’t be much more than 6 iron for even the shortest hitters, but it does play slightly uphill to a difficult green.
Back Nine: Knudson Orientation
For the back nine, the golf course plays 1-9 of the Knudson nine, with no composite routing necessary. It is significantly shorter than the front nine, by about 400 yards, and 29 will be in play at numerous stages throughout the week. Golfers will struggle on the front nine (I use struggle liberally, but for them, it will be a harder nine holes than most events), while the back nine will bring fireworks. There is legitimately six wedges in the nine holes for the TOUR players, so expect to see fireworks.
Beginning the inward stretch is the 367 yard downhill par 4, 10th, a quirky and strange hole. Like the 1st, iron will be the popular choice off the tee, but the golfer has a choice to either get it closer to the creek for a flatter, but more uphill lie, or lay it further back for a level, but less-flat lie.
The approach is significantly uphill, like the first hole.
The 11th is the second of two par 3’s in three holes, and will be one of the main TV moments. When I visited the club in 2022, they were clearing space for a TV crew spot behind the tee of this 208 yard par 3, and the view, down into the valley with the creek left, is one of the more visually dynamic sights at Oakdale.
TV and RBC Canadian Open aside, this is a wicked redan; another excellent hole, and certainly a standout for the regular or tournament routing.
The 12th is a 553 yard par 5 rising out of the valley the 10th and 11th play in, and it’s not until the 18th that the golfer returns to the low portion of the property.
This is one of those funky Robbie Robinson holes that is actually quite good, with the green partially obstructed by the hillside and the undulations. It narrows up considerably, but not so much that you’ll lose a ball. Going for this green in two will require well-struck shots.
Laying up shows the interesting contours as the golfer approaches the green.
The 13th is a shorter par 4 at 424 yards, but the tee shot is tougher, requiring the golfer to turn it over off the right bunker.
The approach shot is also a tricky shorter one, with a long, narrow green with back wings in the left and right side feeding behind the bunkers. There is no denying this is Robbie Robinson’s work!
The golfer finally arrives at the rink hole at the 14th, measuring 172 yards. It is shorter than St. George’s or Hamilton’s version, and I’ve never paid attention to a Canadian Open at Glen Abbey so I couldn’t say which one it was there. It is probably 10 yards uphill, so it will play longer than the yardage.
The 15th is an enjoyable tee shot, with a nice aiming bunker up the left meant to be challenged. Alongside the 17th, the 15th will see very long tee shots soaring downhill.
This is an attractive green complex, and one the TOUR guys love: no frills, nothing too aggressive or weird; simply put, it is a “hit it well and score” hole, no trickery involved.
The 16th is a shorter par 4 working back up the hill, similarly the way the 13th did. At 398 yards, there is not much to this tee shot.
The approach shot plays back to the tee shot on 14, which will provide an interesting backdrop with The Rink set up. This would be a great little corner to spectate at, with the 13th and 16th green coming up, and the entirety of the 14th available for viewing.
I like the 432 yard par 4, 17th, a two-shot hole that allows the players to really smash one. The mowing lines have been brought in to narrow the hole, but I would expect to see big, towering drives off the hillside again.
Yet another straightforward approach shot:
The final hole is a very odd hole in general, let alone for the finishing hole of our Men’s National Championship. At 496 yards, this short par 5 was once listed as a par 4—at least on the scorecard I have and at last year’s Monday Qualifier. I suspect the players complained enough to get it switched to a par 5, or Golf Canada looked at the stats and changed it. In the 2022 Monday Qualifier, it was the hardest hole on the course. Not only was it the hardest hole to par at one full shot over par (5.00 average), but it was also the highest single stroke average of any hole, clipping the long par 5, 7th by 0.5 strokes. The closest par 4 in terms of difficulty? The long uphill 6th at 4.51… 0.49 strokes harder is a lot! Oh, and there were zero birdies and only 23 pars of 65 players.
Anyway, the final hole is a 496 yard par 5 where you won’t see anyone hit it over 260 because the creek comes into play. There is a sliver of fairway up the left nicknamed Knudson’s Alley after George Knudson, but I doubt anyone plays up there. The most likely scenario is most golfers will hit long iron-long iron into the green.
The approach plays significantly uphill yet again, to the biggest, yet most undulating green on the property. Nobody in the field will be able to smash it over the creek, so everyone will be laying up off the tee.
A closer look at the green, below:
All things considered, it is a pretty good routing without too many long walks, especially considering it is a composite of three nine hole loops. There are instances you wish they would play certain holes—for example, the par 3, 2nd on the Thompson is a great short 3—but everything makes sense, minus the clunky finishing hole, but what can you do when you need to build skyboxes and host everyone on a single property built in the 1920s.
The RBC Canadian Open is the first full week of June.