Angus Glen Golf Club – South Course

Angus Glen Golf Club – South Course
Markham, Ontario, CANADA

7407 YARDS (PAR 72)
COURSE ARCHITECT: Doug Carrick (1995)
LAST PLAYED: July 31, 2001.
LOW SCORE: 83 (+11)

– Golf Digest Best New Canadian Course 1995

Many courses have their selling points. For great private clubs like St. George’s, The National GC of Canada or Hamilton, it’s the fact that their courses always are ranked in the top five in the country. A place like Glen Abbey can’t compete with those three from an architecture standpoint yet it is still the most famous course in Canada due to the exposure from hosting an unprecedented 25 Canadian Open championships.

For Angus Glen Golf Club, the notoriety comes from the fact that there is no course that can match them for service excellence and for that reason, it’s the most popular corporate and tournament destination in Canada.

It doesn’t hurt that the club has 36 holes of solid, Doug Carrick-designed golf, with the older South Course rated within the top 100 in Canada by ScoreGolf.

Angus Glen was a labour of love for Arthur Stollery, who began the process of building the golf course in 1992 on this 1200 acre parcel of farmland. He would pass away two years later but his family made sure to complete his vision and the South Course was born one year later in 1995.

I had the chance to play Angus Glen in July 2001 as a guest of one of my business partners. My father joined me for the round, which included the two principles of the garbage bag company we were doing business with at the time. The North Course had just opened to mixed reviews so we were playing the much more heralded South Course on that day, which would be hosting the Canadian Open for the first time the next summer.

The first hole is quite an intimidating opener, a 475 yard par four with a partially blind downhill tee shot. The player is immediately at attention on the approach, with bunkers left and a pond short right protecting the green, as shown above. This is no warmup hole! I’d hit two good shots here but three whack for a bogey to start.

The second hole is a 167 yard par 3 that is heavily protected by bunkers, as you can see in the photo above. Another 3-putt here for bogey.

I’d settle down and make a couple solid two-putt pars on the par four 3rd and 4th holes. The 405 yard par four 5th, shown above, features a creek that runs down the right side before cutting in directly in front of the putting surface, which is also protected by a pond on the right. Tricky hole and another solid two putt par to keep me at +2.

The 6th is a 208 yard par 3 from an elevated tee played to a long, narrow green surface protected by water front right and bunkers left. The photo above shows my father flanked by Paul and Mohan, our two hosts on the day. This hole would bring a smile to my face, as I’d stiff my long-iron shot to about a foot or so and tap it in for the crowd-pleasing birdie. +1 on the day!

The 7th hole is a beauty – a 530 yard, reachable par five played from an elevated tee, as seen above. I’d smoke my drive here and give it a go for my second, nailing it perfectly right at the green. My ball barely went through the green but there was a hazard back there that I was unaware of and I’d end up having to drop with a penalty. I’d end up hacking it back into one of the greenside bunkers and do well just to escape with a double. This hole got me!

I’d make my third three-putt bogey on the 426 yard par four 8th before heading to the majestic 9th hole, a 550 yard par five, shown above. The wide fairway has some serious slope that can propel well-struck drives up to 30 yards further. I benefited from this and had only a pitch left for my third shot. I’d end up making about a 20 footer for my second birdie of the day to finish the front side in 39 (+3), a score I was elated with back in 2001 when I really wasn’t playing much. I had hit every fairway and 8 of 9 greens, numbers that are crazy for a guy who was an 8-10 handicap at best back then.

The 435 yard par four 10th is ultra-challenging. The tee shot must avoid a bunker right but there is also a creek that runs through the fairway about 290 yards or so from the back tee that must be avoided. From there, the approach is uphill to an elevated, two-tier green protected by bunkers short left and back right, as seen above.

The 11th is a bear, a 455 yard par four that usually plays into the wind. Deep bunkers frame both sides of the fairway, as seen above. The green accepts a low, running approach, thankfully.

The par three 12th, shown above, is another beauty. It’s a hefty 249 yards from the back tee deck and again plays into the prevailing wind. The hole is nicely framed by two large maples but the green is elevated and protected by deep bunkers in front in addition to a naturalized hazard area that runs in front of and along the right side of the hole. Heck of a test. After getting up and down on the 10th for par and also making a four on the 11th, my two-putt par on 12 kept me at a very solid +3 on the round.

The solid scoring wouldn’t last.

I’d miss only my second fairway of the day on the 445 yard par four 13th and make double and follow that by making a disappointing bogey on the long, 594 yard par five 14th to fall to +6 on the day.

I’d get my act back together somewhat by making par on the 440 yard par four 15th, a hole that is dominated by a cross bunker feature about 200-250 yards from the tee.

The par five 16th, measuring 550 yards, features an upper and lower fairway in the layup area, making the player decide whether to give it a go on the second shot and mess with the very deep bunkers about 100 yards out or play it safe by laying up well right.

It’s actually a cool risk/reward hole and I got thwarted even though I took the conservative route. I would skull my wedge over the green and I’d chop my way to a crippling double bogey.

The 209 yard par three 17th, as shown above, features a reverse redan green and sits in a lovely setting. It’s similar in look to the 12th, with the ‘goalpost’ type trees and the bunkers front right but plays differently. Pretty golf hole but another test – I’d flush my tee shot over the green and into the pasture out of bounds, making a computer double to completely kill my score.

The 18th is a terrorizing finisher, measuring 420 yards from an elevated tee down to a fairway protected on the left by a naturalized area. The second shot is then played well uphill, over a creek to a green that sits in an amphitheatre setting with the majestic clubhouse in the background. A very solid finisher that I’d bogey to shoot a relatively disappointing 83 (+11), especially since I was in such great shape after 12 holes.

This is definitely a course that was built to host tournaments. It is quite playable for every level of player, especially from the tee. This is certainly one of Doug Carrick’s trademarks as a designer – he’s always believed in width off the tee while trying to challenge the player with the approach shot, rewarding proper positioning in the fairway.

The architecture is solid but not particularly inspired – the course is ranked 69th in Canada as of this writing and has slid considerably since its opening. My best guess is that this course will continue to slide in the rankings and eventually fall out of the top 100 in the country, likely within the next decade.

That said, I don’t want to take anything away from the place. I really enjoyed the golf course – it’s a lot of fun for all players and there are some really cool risk/reward opportunities sprinkled throughout the layout. The service levels have typically been off the charts but they recently lost their general manager Kevin Thistle to Coppinwood Golf Club – Mr. Thistle was the face of Angus Glen for years and it will likely be challenging for them to maintain their service levels without him.

If you’re heading to Angus Glen to play a round, I’d definitely suggest playing the South Course over the North Course. Full disclosure: I have never played the North Course but I’ve heard nothing but negatives after the recent work done there by Davis Love III before the 2007 Canadian Open. Why they hired Love III and not Carrick, the original designer, is beyond me.

The South is a very solid course, perhaps not good enough to maintain its lofty rating in the top 100, perhaps not good enough to travel long distances to play but it’s certainly a fun and solid test of golf that won’t leave you disappointed.

I wrote this post back in 2010 and the last paragraph was quite prophetic upon reflection, as the South Course at Angus Glen has fallen out of the top 100 in all the course rankings lists I follow. In fact, it’s not even on any of the top public course lists for Canada, an incredible fall from grace.


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