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Review: Seguin Valley Golf Club

People always seem to be split when it comes to discussions of Seguin Valley Golf Club, a course near Parry Sound, Ontario. I think the verdict is much clearer than some are letting on.
Review: Seguin Valley Golf Club, Parry Sound
People always seem to be split when it comes to discussions of Seguin Valley Golf Club, a course near Parry Sound, Ontario. I think the verdict is much clearer than some are letting on. It is clear the course is built on interesting land. The story of Sequin Valley, which was constructed by a former airline pilot (thus all the strange holes named after planes), is fairly well known. The architect, however, isn’t nearly as well known — there’s no mention of him anywhere.
According to a reader, the architect behind the initial run at Seguin Valley was none other than David Moote. Apparently there were a number of problems involving the design and Moote did not finish it. Rumours of lawsuits and other things are currently flying around. The owner, who was also the money behind the course, didn’t live through all of this to see it open. Apparently the course is now seeking a new owner.

The much discussed 7thSequin Valley - 7th hole

It might be a tough sale. Sequin Valley put me out, pretty much right from the start. I asked the starter whether it was possible to walk the course. He laughed. “It is about 11 km of cart paths out there,” he replied. “I wouldn’t walk it if I were you.”

It didn’t seem like the walk would have been too bad out of the gate. The first hole, a par five with a marshy area in play off the left side of the fairway, was a fair opener to a natural green. But the first hole isn’t particularly indicative of what you can expect at Seguin. However, the second paints a pretty fair picture of the remainder of the course. Facing a tee shot to a blind landing area, players then hit their approaches to an elevated green with marginal bunkering. In truth, this is pretty representative of many of the holes on Sequin. You tee off slightly downhill, only to hit an approach to an uphill green with plain or no bunkering.
That’s not to say all of Sequin is a wash out. The fifth, a par five playing through a valley, is quite challenging and visually enticing, Sequin’s target golf

while the following hole, a downhill par four with a natural looking greensite, would not be out of place on something created by Tom Fazio. The club places a lot of emphasis on its 7th hole, a 217-yard par three over water to a tight green surrounding by trees. It is a typical all-or-nothing hole, that forces players to hit a long iron to a green that is only partially receptive to such a shot. Is it a great hole? Not really — it works more visually than it does as a playable hole. It also must be incredibly punishing for most players who will have a tough time carrying the ball over 185-yards of water.

In order to create the drama of the 7th, the designer at Seguin went well out of his way to route the hole into the overall course. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that the remainder of the course feels disjointed, with more up-and-down holes linked together by increasingly longer cart rides. The ride between the 7th and the 8th is remarkably long, a precursor to a majority of the back nine.

#11: More up-and-down golf

Sequin Valley - 11th hole

One clear indication of the strange routing of Seguin Valley is the disparity of yardage between the nines. The front plays nearly 3,800 yards from the tips, while the back plays barely 3,000. Take a look at the course map and you’ll see how the holes were forced in around wetlands and other hazards. While it may have appeared that Sequin was built on land ideal for golf, the result suggests the property was almost unworkable, or that the designer was single minded, always scoping out downhill tee shots, regardless of the cart rides needed to make the holes work.

It is strange these days to find a course that does not list its designer on its website, but given the talk of a lawsuit, it makes some sense. When I played Seguin last summer and asked who designed the course, no one seemed to know, or be willing to say. David Moote doesn’t have a working website, so it is hard to say whether he considers it his design. Either way, this course would benefit from someone who was able to add some distinctive bunkering to improve the visual appeal. In fact, several holes don’t have any bunkers. That isn’t a bad thing necessarily (most architects overbunker their courses), but at Sequin it looks more like someone ran out of money and simply didn’t put bunkers on some of the holes.

Regardless of its shortcomings, some hold up Seguin as a “hidden jewel” of Muskoka (though I don’t think of hidden jewels as charging $100 green fees), placing it in the same league as Rocky Crest and Bigwin Island. I just can’t figure out how anyone can place this course in that company. Even with an overhaul and the creation of appropriate bunkers, Seguin Valley is outclassed. And with the launch of the spectacular Muskoka Bay this summer, I doubt many will be talking about Seguin going ahead.

Ontgolf.ca readers seem to agree with my take on Seguin:

Reader Taurus writes: Not worth $125 without clubhouse or driving range. Worst managed course I’ve visited.

That’s saying a lot.

I’d call this one a 4/10, that might reach a 6 with some work.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

28 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I PAYED $ 115 TWILIGHT RATE LAST SUMMER, What a rip-off !With the Parry Sound gcc up the road , there is NO reason why anyone should even think of playing this “half finished / half baked” excuse of a golf course. “Hidden Gem” try ziconia.
    Mongo

  • I couldn’t disagree more with this analysis of this beautiful golf course. I played all three in the area (Deer Run-a joke), Parry Sound (tired, oversanded and over watered with too many old men taking too many practice shots) and found Sequin to be the very best. A hundred bucks INCLUDES a cart, so it is not extra on top of that. The electric cart was a real nice quiet plus also. The views are spectacular and I loved the fact that if felt like we were the only ones on the course. The grooming and caretaking were exceptional and the staff were very friendly and helpful. Who cares if the clubhouse is not finished? I came for the GOLF, personally. The seventh hole Thompson is talking about is only 162 over the water from the whites, 167 from the Blues, so unless you think your Tiger playing from the Blacks- then you’ll be hitting 214 over the water. Plus, his yardages are inaccurate, the front plays 3646 and the back plays 3189…not 3800 and 3000 quoted in his article. I liked the rides between holes, it gave me a chance to relax, enjoy the scenery, and my game.

  • This course is the best kept secret in golf. It is twice Taboo and half the price. Yes the clubhouse and range need to be finished but the Jolly Roger hotel and resturant are just down the road so you can enjoy the 19th hole there. I think the author of the article is bashing the course so he can make sure he gets a tee time on the way up to his cottage.

  • I agree with Brad:

    Thompson wants the course to himself.

    I played July 05 and was blown away by the course. I played the Golds and was playing well below my index that day, with great company and weather to match, so I had a great experience.
    The debated #7 is 167 from the blues, 190 from the gold and 214 from the black. Almost all of Clublink’s courses from the blues (ave 6500 yrds compared to SV’s 6055yds) play to a 127 slope, as does SV from the Blues. Therefore most people will be carrying 167 less the tee area and the front of the green, or about 150 yards: no big deal.

    If you play this course at a higher slope than you’re accustomed to, and you’re not playing well, the course will beat the crap out of you and you’ll be back here giving it a bad rap.

    Sure you can’t walk the couse as is the case with almost all of the new courses up north, but the drives between holes are stunning.

    If you’re looking for the Magna treatment, you aren’t going to get it here. If you’re up for a real challenging test with incredible surroundings, give it a try.

  • It is fascinating that people actually like Sequin. I guess many golfers pay little attention to anything other than the aesthetics of a course. Witness Stephen’s remarks about the beautiful vistas you see while riding the freakin’ golf cart for a half mile between holes. I guess this is such a great course that even though it has been for sale for a year, there are no takers.
    The fact is that Sequin neither beat me up nor do I care about Magna-type treatment. Too many people assume that if one doesn’t play a course well that they must dislike the course. I have yet to play well at Carnoustie, but I think it is terrific. On the other hand, I’ve played very well at Angus Glen North and don’t think much of the design. I think people need to be careful at assuming that a low score equals a good design. It simply isn’t the case.

  • I’ve played Seguin Valley 3 times in the past couple of years. I’m a six handicap and have played most of the top Muskoka and Toronto area courses. I have to agree with those above who really liked the course. I found the scenery stunning (par 3 14th hole with an 80 foot vertical drop) and like most golfers really enjoy the abundance of elevated tees. I found RT’s description of some holes just plain misleading (#2 is not a blind tee shot to an elevated green. It’s a clear tee shot to a green protected by a valley in front (who needs bunkers on this type of hole?). As far as #7 over water, other readers have pointed out it depends on which tees you play. It’s a great hole for all levels. There’s only a couple of boring holes amongst the gems, but most courses have the same issue. I happened to play this summer with one of the Environmental Engineers involved in building the course, and she told me the owner wanted each hole to give the golfer the impression they were on the course alone. That has been achieved and is probably one reason why some cart rides between holes are rather lengthy. But who ever got upset on a golf course with a 100 yard cart ride through the woods from tee to green? And “Mongo’s” comments above should be read in context with his moniker. My guess is Mongo is a 30 handicapper who lost a ton of balls on this course, and expects the royal treatment for a $100 green fee. Parry Sound is a short, hilly, crowded goat track compared to Seguin Valley and any experienced golfer would know that immediately. As far as the green fees, compare $100, including cart, with the cost at any high end course around Toronto or in the Muskokas. A bargain by any standard. The fact they haven’t spent millions on a big useless clubhouse is a plus. Keeps the green fees down.
    Seguin should be a must play for any serious golfer in the Parry Sound area.
    Thanks

  • I have played Seguin Valley in 2005. I have played all of Muskoka courses over the past few years and plan to visit every year to play 4 to 6 different courses in 3 to 4 days.
    Yes, there are some improvements (more bunkers and better clubhouse) that could be made at the Seguin, but I really like this course and plan to play every other year. I would rate this course 8 out of 10. Amongst Muskoka courses, I would rate the following courses to be slightly better than Seguin. If you are coming to Muskoka to play golf and willing to spend, than consider Bigwin Island, Taboo, Rocky Crest, Grandview and The Rock. Including Seguin Valley, these are top 6 courses in Muskoka, although, I am looking forward to play Muskoka Bay in 2007.
    You will love the vastness of Seguin Valley. It seems we are the only ones on the course and you will virtually never see adjacent fairways due to huge amount of land.
    There are few very interesting holes. Come and play this course to find out.
    Don’t bother to play at Deerhurst. It is probably the most over-rated course in Muskoka. I have played this course in 2004 and don’t remember any holes other than first hole.
    If you are looking for better clubhouse and food, go and play Bigwin, Taboo or Rocky Crest.
    Seguin valley is for pure golfers only.

    Troy

  • Seguin Valley is one of the most God-awful golf courses I have played in some time. It is poorly routed, poorly drained, poorly graded, and lacks any semblance to a well-designed golf course. It was a complete waste of the client’s money. This is most unfortunate, as it is a superior property to all of the golf courses built in Muskoka, with the possible exception of Oviinbyrd.

    I played the course several years ago on a warm, late summer day with the construction supervisor for Oviinbyrd, and we came away both saying “thank God we didn’t have to pay for that experience”.

    Those who praise this golf course have either never played a good golf, or simply don’t know what they are talking about.

    Chris

  • I guess I don’t know what I’m talking about as I’m a single digit handicap and I enjoyed the course a lot. Perhaps I needed to have the competitor’s construction supervisor chirping in my ear all day at how crap it was.

    My only complaints are the lack of facilities, too many uphill approaches, hidden trouble on the 3rd (?) and the high greens fee (with little or no break during off-season or twilight hours)

    The conditions when I played (Late march early June the past 3 years) have ranged from acceptable to great.

    It’s a dramatic course on a dramatic piece of property. The course has full mature trees and a fair amount of rock throughout. Thankfully the rock isn’t as intrusive as The Rock (which is being closed for the 2007 season to make it more playable), Parry Sound or North Granite Ridge.

    If the fees were $20 to $30 cheaper I’d say it’s a must play.

  • I find it slightly ironic that Thompson who is paid to critisize can’t find too much good about a golf course that well versed golfers obviously enjoy. I can only suggest he wasn’t perked and coddeled(for a good review) like he is used to on the more well heeled golf experiences. I fully agree with Rick’s comment about the competitors construction supervisor pretending he’s a qualified golf experience critic. Just a bit of a thick comment if you ask me. Despite the shaky short history of this course some lucky new owner willing to spend a few more bucks(clubhouse)
    will have a marketable product that most would enjoy. Sounds like someone put some crap in Thompsons cornflakes the morning of.
    N

  • Is that the Chris Nelson that worked with McBroom? Nice comments! At least pay the green fee and then blast them! Great professionalism

  • Oh, yes, Nathan — I apparently wasn’t coddled enough into thinking a poor excuse for a golf course is a great experience. I’m glad you enjoyed it — but let’s be clear: Seguin isn’t one of the better courses in the area. It might have been, with a good architect and a better routing. In its current state it is just a mess.

  • Thompsons opinion is misguided, I’m sure he would cut-up Pebble Beach, blind shots on 6 and 8, a 500ft ride to the hot-dog stand, geese! I have played every course in the Muskoka area and they are all up, down and sideways. This one is breathtaking, like you are in the middle of Algonquin park. Almost every hole you don’t see any other holes, cars or people. Maybe parts of the golf course are lacking but for the merits of spending a day in nature, it doesn’t get better. And I thank Thompson for cutting it up cause I always get a tee time! Keep those golfers away!

  • I very much appreciate Seguin Valley. It is a very good challenging course for all to enjoy. Before criticizing the Seguin too much play the Rock….talk about disasters.

    I will go back and I will enjoy it completely

  • Seguin Valley did rank #38 in the 2007 edition of “Ontario Golf” magazine’s Top 50 Golf Courses in Ontario… so some significant panelists clearly disagree with Mr Thompson.

    The course certainly lacks all the perks of a high end Muskoka club, so I can see where some folks who like to be pampered with a country club atmosphere would be disappointed… and I’m guessing the staff don’t know how to properly treat a visiting reviewer (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

    But to dismiss this course as a clunker seems rather off the mark… the track has some great holes and some interesting shots. And although Mr Thompson wants to belittle the fact that each hole is absolutely isolated from the others overlooks the unique appeal of the track and it’s ability to give you one of the more pristine Muskoka experiences that any course up there can produce… I like to walk too, but that’s the trade off at Seguin Valley… I’ll walk over at Parry Sound G&CC.

    Three of the par 3’s are fantastic… everyone talks about the 7th, but 14 is spectacular and quite a test… and #4 might be the most interesting on the course given the two diffent angles you can approach it from.

    Number 1 and 10 are fun par fives to start out on. But the show stopper is #15 (par 4)… I’m sure some might call it gimmicky, but the hole does give you an option to go for the green and the scenery is incredible, nothing quite like it that I’ve played.

    Seguin Valley might not be everyone’s cup of tea… but to call it a clunker is a little off the charts… it does the track a disservice, I doubt anyone who has played there would rank it so lowly… unless of course a golf review means more about posh amenities and country club service… and less about golf.

  • I played Seguin Valley in October and I found it to be both visually excellent, but the holes were absolutely spectacular.
    I have played most of the courses in Muskoka and the only course I would rank ahead of it might be Muskoka Bay. Anyone who is critical of this course doesn’t have a clue about what golfers enjoy about a course. The price is quite fair considering what courses like Deerhurst like to charge.

  • Listening to RT, he must have his courses mixed up…..I have played a lot of golf courses over the years, and find Seguin challenging, cheap, and depending upon which tees you do play, a totally different course each time. There is no comparism to Taboo, where for a lot more money, you have a lousy course. I have played Taboo once and that was it. Not worth the money. Seguin is only one of two courses that I really look forward to playing each year. Those who enjoy golf and have played this course will know what i am talking about. Jeff

  • RT is way off base.
    Seguin Valley is a golfer’s course. You have to think your way around to score well not just flail away. Most of the holes are very memorable and the views spectacular, not like most courses where the holes all look alike.
    SV is fairly priced at $100 including cart and tax.
    I have played most Muskoka courses and rate SV among the best. There are only 2 drawbacks, the clubhouse is not open; and it’s a bit of a hike from central Muskoka – – – – but it’s well worth the trip.

  • SV is fairly priced at $100 including cart and tax.
    I have played most Muskoka courses and rate SV among the best. There are only 2 drawbacks, the clubhouse is not open; and it’s a bit of a hike from central Muskoka – – – – but it’s well worth the trip.

  • I have played alot of top end courses in Ontario. I have been to Forida and played all the best there. What I don’t understand is hard to play courses piss people off. Sequin Valley does need some work but the course is not a resort course. So off on the tee shot and you are teeing up again. I play golf to beat the course. Sequin Valley is hard to beat. Robert cuts it up hard, he must like easy courses. I have played Muskoka Bay. It is a nice course, big landing areas. You can use the driver lots. Taboo is the same, nice to have someone clean your clubs at the driving range but that is why you pay 180 for a round. I hope someone will take Sequin over and open it back up. I will be back in a heart beat for another beating

  • I am from the Kitchener-Waterloo area and am really looking forward to playing Seguin Valley this upcoming weekend and Grandview later on in the fall. I recently played The Ridge at Manitou and must say wasn’t totally blown away, but when comparing it to average courses like Glen Abbey, it was a gem. I’ll let you know how the rounds go!
    Ryan

  • To all above me , if i won the lottery i would buy the place , move in the clubhouse and invite all golfers who will appreciate one one the finest courses they have ever played.Iplayed this aug and realized this course is very challenging and in good condition. This course is canadian in every way and leaves you wanting more.Having played many other courses throughout ontario sequin valley is my favorite as of now. $75.00 inc cart on sat morn is not bad . When i win the lottery save your recipt and iwill refund your money if you dont like it.

  • Yesterday I had the pleasure of playing SV for the fifth time. The course was the wettest condition I have ever played it and I felt it needs alot of work when it comes to drainage. I lost a ball on the second hole on an approach shot that came up short. The ball must have plugged which happened on many tee shots during the day. The scenery was fantastic and greens were good considering they had recently been aereated. Sod had been pushed around by the greens keeping equipment that had cut the grass under very wet conditions. The lack of roll on many shots allowed me to hit every fairway a major achievment for me. I would play this course again in a heartbeat! A staff member did hint to me that a new owner should be in place soon. I truely hope so and in comparing it to the Rock I would say the layout is better at SV and once the new owner puts some cash into some key areas of the course it will be a true GEM! J.

  • Seguin Valley Golf course provided the most disappointing golf outing I’ve had in years. The course conditioning is horrible (muddy sandtraps, soaking fairways and slow greens). It took 2 hours and 45 minutes to finish 9 Holes, at which point we walked off. In addition the staff was rude and the course marshal ineffective. How this course has managed to remain in business is beyond me. There isn’t one single redeeming quality to speak of about this facility.

    It was a good ‘ol fashion Perry Sound shakedown at its finest. save yourself the $110 and play elsewhere.

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