Essex Golf & Country Club
LaSalle, Ontario, CANADA
6673 YARDS (PAR 71)
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: 72.9/130
COURSE ARCHITECT: Donald Ross (1929)
COURSE WEBSITE: http://essexgolf.com/
ROUNDS PLAYED: 1
LAST PLAYED: June 26, 2020.
LOW SCORE: 79 (+8)
– Golfweek Best Classic Courses Canada 2019: #16
– Top100GolfCourses.com Canada’s Top 100 2019: #36
– ScoreGolf Top 100 in Canada 2020: #49
“An absolutely beautiful depiction of how to do an interesting golf course on flattish terrain.”
– Ben Crenshaw, Professional Golfer and Golf Course Architect
(As said during the 2002 AT&T Canada Senior Open)
However, the membership soon started to outgrow the site and in 1909, the club would exercise an option to purchase a new piece of land at nearby Prince Farm. Oak Ridge members would be forced to play at Walkerville for two years while their new course was being built and during that time, the club would officially be incorporated as Essex Golf & Country Club.
The new nine hole course would open for play in 1912, with the club expanding to 18 holes by 1915. However, the membership still felt the course lacked in too many areas, with criticism directed toward the lack of length, the flat green sites and not enough sand traps.
By 1928, the club had purchased over 125 acres of land on Matchette Road and were fortunate to retain the services of famed architect Donald Ross to design a championship golf course on their new site. Ross, who had designed esteemed courses like Oakland Hills, Franklin Hills, Roseland Park and Detroit Golf Club within the Detroit/Windsor area, provided the routing for Essex but is rumoured to have only visited the site one time. The construction of the course was left in the very capable hands of John Gray, the longtime greenkeeper at the club.
Construction began in the spring of 1928 and the brand new, 6683 yard course would officially open for play in July 1929. Accolades soon followed and Essex has long been considered one of the finest representations of the genius of Donald Ross here in Canada.
The land on which Essex G&CC sits is anything but remarkable, with little in the way of elevation change throughout the round. However, Ross routed the course brilliantly, utilizing drainage swales to add some visual flair and adding movement through clever use of doglegs and strategic bunker placement. With the flat terrain and modest green-to-tee transfers, Essex may be one of the easiest walking courses in the country, another major plus.
The one defining feature of the course to me, other than the majestic trees on the property, are the well-contoured greens, which are uniformly much larger than average and feature false fronts and dramatic fall-offs throughout.
At less than 6700 yards from the back tees, this isn’t a course that’s going to wear you out tee-to-green but going low will be very dependent on how you navigate these large and very tricky putting surfaces.
The club has hosted a number of big tournaments over the years, including provincial amateur and professional events but gained a lot of notoriety when they hosted the Canadian Open in 1976, which was won by PGA Tour rookie Jerry Pate and featured a star-studded field that included Jack Nicklaus. In 1998, the club would host the du Maurier Classic, then a major on the LPGA Tour (won by Brandie Burton) and in 2002, the AT&T Canada Senior Open visited Essex and was won by Tom Jenkins.
Essex has been featured on countless top 100 lists throughout its history and was just named as the 49th best course in Canada according to ScoreGolf. Personally, I would have Essex closer to the top 30 in the country but to each their own.
Essex G&CC is one of the most historic clubs in Canada and a day spent here is one to be cherished.
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