Review: Summit Golf Club

Information:

  • Richmond Hill, Ontario
  • Private
  • George Cumming & Stanley Thompson (1919), Bob Cupp (1985), Doug Carrick (2017)
  • 33rd in Canada (SCOREGolf)

A quick visit to Summit Golf Club tells you everything you need to know about this club. It’s busy, but laid back. Benefitting from the location north of the city, the vibe is a lot less stuffy than some of the inner-city clubs.

It also benefits from a great playing membership, so you can expect good players and fast rounds here. Frankly, it’s a great club.

The golf itself, too, had me excited. Originally a George Cumming design, then re-designed heavily by Stanley Thompson to the point that it is a Thompson now, it’s gone through some work since. Bob Cupp & Doug Carrick have both left their fingerprints on this design, so the question became “how good is Summit?” At 33rd in Canada, I was excited to play.


The opening hole at Summit, and actually the opening four holes, are really strong. The 1st is a bunker-less tee shot down into the valley. 470 yards, it’s a great chance to let it go early in the round.

A ridge running east-west separates the green into two, while a massive bunker short right guards the green.

The 2nd is a ridiculously difficult par 3. Uphill, at 228 yards, short and left is death.

I’d almost say this is a redan template, with anything right kicking onto the green and the entire green sloping hard to the left. It doesn’t work its way back to the back-left, but it does feature numerous characteristics of a redan.

Playing back down into the valley the 1st played down into and the 2nd climbed up out of, the 393 yard par 4, 3rd is a bunker-less slight dogleg right hole.

While a little bare on the eyes, the micro-undulations in the fairway can give you a couple funky lies. An upper shelf on the back right makes for a couple interesting pin locations.

You then climb to the top of the hill to hit the downhill tee shot on the par 4, 4th. 436 yards, it’s another great opportunity to hit a big one.

This two shotter features a wonderful green complex cut on top of the hill. Short right is not the place to miss, while short left leaves you with a decent chip shot up.

If you’ve been following along, you’ve likely noticed there’s only one bunker in four holes. Exceptional restraint from Thompson to limit the bunkering and rely on his strength of routing golf holes.

After climbing out of the valley (that we’ll return to), you go to the top of the golf course with the 539 yard par 5, 5th. A bunker left and a bunker right guard this tee shot, but it’s a fairly wide fairway.

Anything left of the bunker is dead and down back into the valley, as you can see below.

The green complex is fronted by a bunker left & right, as well as back right. Reachable in two, there’s room to run up a second (or third if you get in trouble) shot.

The 6th is a really strange hole. At 320 yards, you can’t hit much more than 210 yards to stay in the fairway.

The hole doglegs to the right, and down into a small bowl. The green is cut into the hillside, and actually features some pretty cool movement.

I find this hole really awkward because it’s so short and has potential safety issues, and the fact that the fairway cuts off at about 100 yards from the green. I love a good drivable par 4, but there’s no real incentive to hit anything more than a long iron and flip wedge down the hill. Props where there should be props: I’m a fan of the bunker complex on the inside corner of the dogleg.

The 7th is the second really short par 4 in a row. 318 yards, “Carrick’s Corner,” named after the architect who built this hole (fun fact, he’s also a member at Summit), plays straight uphill.

It’s worth noting that the 7th tee is the furthest point from the clubhouse. It’s not a traditional out-and-back routing, or an outside-in routing, but a bit of both. The front nine wraps around the outside, but not returning to the clubhouse, while the back loops inside holes 5-9 before making its way back to the clubhouse starting with 15.

A small false front, as well as bunkers front & left. With driver, it’s a big poke up the hill, but a long iron & wedge gives you a good chance at birdie.

The 8th is a very good par 4 again, doglegging right & down the hill. 450 yards, it’s a strong hole.

To a wide, accommodating green, it’s a wonderful vista looking down the hill. There’s some good movement in the green as well.

The 9th is a wonderful snaking par 5 at 556 yards. It almost gives me a bit of St. George’s hole 11 vibes.

There’s some good, rolling land that can provide some interesting stances.

The green is slightly above the fairway, with bunkering on both sides. In the layup area, a bunker awaits as well.

Making the turn, the 10th turns straight up the hill with a 221 yard par 3. Obviously, this a monster, but I found this hole a bit dully, especially considering how good the long, uphill par 3, 2nd is.

And with the 11th, we’re back to the good, quality golf holes. Uphill and swinging to the left, the 425 yard par 4 is a fairly difficult hole as well.

To a great green site tucked into the hill, this is one of the better holes at Summit Golf Club.

The 12th is another great bunker-less par 4 over some very quality land. 435 yards, the hole doglegs right around a depression area on the right.

The green is tucked behind the same depression area that the tee shot is flanked by on the right, it’s a wonderful green location.

Looking back at some of the land you played over, which is so good it didn’t need a bunker.

The 13th is another long par 3, but as opposed to the 2nd and 10th, the 13th actually plays a slightly downhill. A small depression area right of the green isn’t ideal, while short left could potentially kick the ball towards the green. The actual complex has a hard slant to the right, which is towards the bottom of the property. This hole was completely rebuilt by Bob Cupp in 1985, but tweaked by Doug Carrick in recent years.

The 14th tumbles way down into the bottom of the property. It’s a longer par 5 at 573 yards.

Playing through the natural undulations, the layup doesn’t have a bunker, but some of the land is interesting enough to challenge golfers.

I believe this green complex was raised a bit by Bob Cupp, which now features a run off on the left. Doug Carrick has also tweaked the green, and raising it a bit more than Cupp did. I don’t really get it; I feel like it’s already a long 5. If someone can get home in two, so be it.

The 15th is a fun little par 3 to a green tucked into the hillside. One bunker left is all that’s needed; this 160 yard one shotter has all the bite needed.

At 600 yards, the par 5, 16th is by far the worst hole at Summit. The members I played with told me there used to be two holes over this hole. I’m not sure exactly how it worked, but you can tell it’s just not quite right.

This hole is a nothing hole, and just feels like it’s meant to make the long journey back to the clubhouse. The tee shot plays slightly downhill with the bunker on the left in play, while the layup doesn’t have anything in play. The green site, however, is original Thompson. It make sense for a mid length par 4—not a long par 5. Differences like these make the difference between a club like Summit and a potential top 15 golf course in Canada.

The 17th is a wonderful, albeit a tad quirky, short par 3 at 142 yards. A tree on the left stops high wedges, making flighting shots a must. Draws are ideal, and anything on the left hand side is difficult.

The green complex on 17 almost funnels towards the middle. Anything short might take a big bounce, while long lets the golfer potentially spin the ball back.

The finishing hole at Summit is a strong closer. 436 yards, it climbs up and to the right all the way to the base of the clubhouse.

Two bunkers on the outside corner are certainly in play, but unlike some of William Flynn’s strategy tactics, there’s no benefit to challenging them. Keeping the tee ball on the right gives you a shorter club in. It is a difficult shot up, however. Entirely uphill, it takes a lot of club to get there.


There’s no doubt Summit is a good golf course, but there’s a couple things in my mind from really being a strong top 15 in Canada. I think it’s underrated at 33, but not much higher than maybe 18th.

For my tastes, there’s way too many cooks in the kitchen, and it’s fairly obvious. The real Thompson work, like holes 1-4, 9, 14, 18 are really quite good, while the other stuff that you can tell has been distorted with time like 6, 7, 16 stick out like sore thumbs. Regardless, Summit is a very fun spot to spend the day, and with a restoration from a guy like Ian Andrew meant to restore Thompson’s work back, I could see a strong case that this is the 6th best Thompson behind the iconic Thompson 5.

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