7025 YARDS (PAR 72)
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: 74.2/143
COURSE ARCHITECT: Ron Garl (2000)
COURSE WEBSITE: http://woodensticks.com/
ROUNDS PLAYED: 1
LAST PLAYED: June 16, 2007.
LOW SCORE: 82 (+10)
– ScoreGolf Top 59 Public Courses in Canada 2019: #58
The course is a collection of replicas of famous holes from around the world and also has six originals within the mix.
We got into town right around 6am and the staff was already there ready to take our bags. One of the perks of playing Wooden Sticks is that they feed you both breakfast and lunch as part of the green fee. We threw down some eggs, bacon and hash browns and headed to the range and putting greens.
We got a reduced rate to play on Saturday ($125.00), most likely due to the fact that we would be participating in a shotgun due to a tournament taking place late in the day. And this shotgun was completely full.
The shotgun had us teeing off on the fifth hole but for the purpose of the review, I’ll start with the first hole and work my way from there. We played the tips so all yardages are from those markers.
The first hole is a 451 yard par four that plays downhill and was inspired by the site of this year’s US Open, Oakmont CC, due to the ‘church pew’ bunker feature that frames the right side. Real pretty hole from the elevated tees. I drove nicely down the left side, chunked my second short and couldn’t get up and down, making bogey here.
The second hole (shown below) is a Garl original and is 331 yards downhill. The green site is very well protected and very shallow. I hit a perfect drive to 41 yards, muffed my lob wedge a bit and again couldn’t get up and down, making another bogey.
The third hole is inspired by the 12th hole at Augusta National and is 188 yards from the tips. Very shallow green here but my six-iron found the right side of the surface. I kept my bogey streak alive, however, with an ugly three-whack. All three of us hit this green in regulation, a nice feat.
The fourth continues the Amen Corner theme by mimicking the 13th at Augusta. It’s a 510 yard par five that bends right to left. It’s pretty wide open from the tee but you REALLY see the resemblance once you get a visual of the green. The immense bunkers behind the hole define the green site and it even has the added touch of the Masters scoreboard in behind. Absolutely awesome.
That is Toast putting for birdie (below) on what was our last hole of the day as I continue to protect his identity for some reason. I drove nicely but still had 257 yards to go for my second. What would you do in this situation? You’re at #13 at Augusta…you freaking go for it! Well, I duffed my 2-iron rescue and still had about 140 left for my third. I stuck that to six feet and missed, making par.
The fifth hole (below) is an uphill par four measuring 331 yards. It’s a Garl original and was our first hole of the day. I hit four iron down the middle and a 9-iron second to about 18 feet, eventually making par.
Six is another original and a beauty, 458 yards downhill and doglegs left. I drove nicely here and hit an awesome 8-iron from 183 (downhill & downwind) to about 8 feet. Missed it and made par…sense a trend?
Seven is yet another original and is a tight 398 yard par four with a huge ravine in front of the green. The fairway runs out at 270 yards from the tee and that’s my tee ball just through into the rough. I hit a nice pitching wedge from here but it was long and I couldn’t get up and in, making bogey.
The 8th hole at Wooden Sticks is a 230 yard par three original and is well protected by bunkers in front and left. I hit a 3-iron rescue to the back of the green and made a nice two putt par.
Nine is a 548 yard par five inspired by Pine Valley. There is a huge waste area that runs in front of the tee for about 200 yards and another huge waste area closer to the green. That is Harris teeing off in the photo below. I hit a nice drive here to about 250 yards but decided to lay up. However, I blocked my five-iron into the waste area right of the green and did well to scramble for par to give me a 40 (+4) on the outgoing nine.
Ten is a 385 yard par four that mimics the first hole at St. Andrews. The fairway is about 100 yards wide and only a nutball like Harris could miss this sucker. I only had 90 yards in for my second shot and hit it to about 12 feet but couldn’t make the putt.
The 11th is a 145 yard par three that was inspired by the ‘Postage Stamp’ hole at Troon. The green is very narrow and there is a huge dune left of the green. The hole falls off severely right as well, with extremely deep pot bunkers. The view from the tee is below while a shot right of the green follows, showing you just how severe the dropoff really is. I hit 9 iron to 15 feet and parred.
The 12th is the #1 handicap hole on the course and is another hole inspired by Pine Valley. It is a great golf hole. The drive is very intimidating (shown below), as you have to clear a vast waste area while also avoiding a bunker right and fescue left. Once you get off the tee, you have a very challenging second to an elevated green that sits over a ravine and has a diabolical putting surface. Just incredibly difficult. I hit two of my best shots of the day here to get to 30 feet but three whacked for the second time on the day to make bogey.
#13 is the last of the original holes on the course, although it too has a waste bunker feature on the left like the other Pine Valley-inspired holes. It’s a true bear from the tips at 485 yards but the par four plays downwind. I barely cleared the waste bunker off the tee and my four iron from well over 200 yards fell just short. I chipped on and three whacked again, this time for a costly double. Ugh.
That brings us to the 14th, a reachable par five measuring 508 yards and it’s inspired by ‘Hogan’s Alley’ at Carnoustie. There are a couple of intimidating pot bunkers right in the middle of the fairway that must be avoided. I drove beautifully here, leaving myself only 213 yards for my second shot. I nailed my five-iron flush and rolled just 12 feet past the pin. My eagle attempt rolled just past and I made birdie. Fun hole!
The 15th is a brute of a par four measuring 480 yards into the wind. This hole is patterned after the ‘Road Hole’ at St. Andrews and features a rock wall that runs down the fairway in the hitting area and near the green. It also has a stone road that runs alongside the green, with both the road and wall in play, just like it is at the Old Course. I skied my drive here and had 259 yards left for my second. I then hit one of the shots of the day for me, nailing my 2-iron rescue onto the front of the green. It was the most I had in the bag, although Toast wondered why I didn’t hit driver off the deck.
I actually had to chip my ball on the green, as the back left pin location wasn’t accessible due to the Road Hole pot bunker (see below). I couldn’t get up and in and that counts as another three whack even though I only officially putted twice.
The 16th is another Pine Valley-inspired hole and is a par five measuring 570 yards. There is a huge waste area that needs to be cleared with your second shot and it leads to an open-fronted green. I hit a nice drive here, laid back to 90 yards but misjudged the wind with my third and couldn’t get up and down, making bogey.
That brings us to #17, which is the 135 yard par three that mimics the 17th at Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship. The island green is pretty damned intimidating and looks eerily similar to the real thing.
The shot below shows what we had to face from the tee, as the shot above was taken from the tee on #11. Unbelievably, all three of us hit the green on our tee shots, delighting the group that was behind us – it was a really long round due to the shotgun so we saw these people pretty much all day. I got the ‘greenie’ for being closest and we all managed to make our pars.
The last hole at Wooden Sticks is a 410 yard par four that appropriately shares the same fairway with the tenth hole. This is due to the fact that the hole mimics #18 at St. Andrews, right down to the Swilcan Bridge just over the ‘bog’. My second shot here came up short in the dreaded ‘Valley of Sin’ as you can see below and my appreciation for the Tour players increased when it took me FOUR shots to get down from here as I made double.
I ended up shooting 82 (+10), a pretty crappy score considering the fact I hit the ball great almost all day. I hit 11 of 14 fairways and 10 greens but had 37 putts and FIVE three putts. Well, that explains it! Harris shot 83 but did beat me in our match play game, as did Toast, who shot a tremendous 76 (+4) while making a quadruple bogey on #12!
I used every club in the bag here except my 7-iron so that’s a huge plus. However, the wide-open nature of the course allows you to be relatively wild off the tee and you aren’t really forced to shape shots out here. Higher handicappers will benefit from this and it truly makes the course playable for all skill levels.
We played the tips and expected high scores but 83 (+11) was the highest in the group. We all played pretty darned well and hit some great irons but I don’t think the course is quite as difficult as the slope and rating suggests. You can definitely score out here. Obviously Garl has a lot of influences to work from on this design and he borrows liberally from Pine Valley especially. Wooden Sticks is quite a memorable course, since you’re playing famous holes that you’ve seen on television time and time again. Every hole brings a new form of excitement.
The land moves a lot more than I expected and is visually appealing for the most part. Extremely pristine from a conditioning standpoint and surprisingly so for a course that likely gets a lot of public play. I doubt many play the tips out there and I can honestly say that the tee boxes were as lush as velvet. The greens rolled true all day and I certainly can’t blame them for my putting woes.
Ambiance takes a hit due to the fact it was a mind-numbing six-hour round. There were always two groups on every tee and we got a little fed up with the group behind us, as they continually showed no respect for others by roaring up in their carts while we were hitting.
Cart only out here. It would be pretty impossible to walk due to the very long drives between holes.
The staff is great and the fact we were fed both before and after the round was a nice bonus. But the most important thing is that this is a hell of a fun golf course to play. We knew we were in for a treat pretty much right away and were talking about coming back only two holes in.
Wooden Sticks is a recommended play from Now on the Tee!