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Course Review: Subtle Mount Bruno

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Mount Bruno Country Club

Saint Bruno, Que.

Designer: Willie Park Jr., with renovations by Stanley Thompson/Thomas McBroom

There are few courses that are quieter, fewer less well known in Canada than Mount Bruno. Its relative anonymity is based on the fact the club doesn’t want anyone to see it. They don’t care if it receives publicity or is on Score’s Top 100 list. They just like their sleepy little club to be exactly as it has been largely since opening in 1918.

The members can do whatever they like but they can’t hide the fact that anyone lucky enough to see it will come to understand it is a great course. It may not happen right away. It might take until the 9th hole, when a ball gets kicked sideways by the mighty swale in the green. Or it could take to the 11th hole when someone tries to drive the green and fails. Or to the 13th, when they realize the muscular nature of the hole. You get the point — there’s a lot going on at Mount Bruno that makes it worth seeking out.

A design by Willie Park Jr. (Weston), the course is subtle and understated. Fairways are lay-of-the-land, and greens do feature significant contour, but often rise from the fairway on grade, naturally blending in with the surroundings. The land Park utilized is rolling, with a nice mix of elevation changes without every being extreme. It is a delightful walk and a delightful place to play.

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The best holes at Bruno — like the mid-length par-4 4th, with its tricky green that slopes from the left, or the 13th, with its relatively flat green perched on a peak of a small hillock — pose more challenge than it would initially appear. The player thinks there’s little danger, but the devil is in the details so to speak. A clever bunker — like that on the 13th, keeps a player from firing at the green, or a swale in the green, like the 4th, forces a careful iron selection.

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The only holes that are out of character are (unfortunately) the 18th, which seems decidedly over-bunkered (in fact it wasn’t the closing hole on the original routing) and the third, a par-3 with ringed bunkers. The third can perhaps be forgiven for the fact it is a short three, but it strikes me as the least interesting one-shot hole on the course.

The muscle of the course is found in its fours, especially the long 5th hole, that plays downhill to a green that rises at the back, or the 14th, which plays downhill to another tremendous green, the type it could take years to figure out.

Which is the greatness of Bruno. What looks easy actually has more twists and turns than immediately meets the eye. And yes, it is exceptionally difficult to find a round at this place — I’ve been lucky to play it five times — and I delight in returning to see if I can finally master its nuances.

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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.

10 CommentsLeave a comment

  • ‘What looks easy actually turns out to have more twists and turns than immediately meets the eye’. Wow, RT, you are such great writer. You are a slob, please stop writing. You are nothing but a pretender that really knows nothing and engages in cliches. Mt Brono is a cow pasture and if you don’t know that then you are an idiot.

  • Mt. Bruno is not a cow pasture! Far from it.

    Please let me correct your list of architects who have renovated Mt. Bruno. Herbert Strong should be given credit for 12th green, the bunkering on the same hole, as well as alterations to the 16th, 17th, and 18th holes. Alterations were also made to bunkering throughout the course between 1931 and 1940. His contributions to Mt. Bruno were far more substantial than Thompson’s. William and David Gordon altered bunkers on the 7th and 13th holes during 1965. David Gordon was later retained to approve changes to the course which had been put forth by the Course Planning Committee. These changes were completed in 1991.
    Herb McNally’s book on the history of Mt. Bruno is the comprehensive reference on the subject, covering the period from the Club’s inception up to 1993.

    Cheers

  • Da Man:

    Your trivial rants are irritating and insults to RT are inappropriate. As a regular reader, I ask that you post constructive content not useless nonsense.

  • As I’ve said before, it appears Da Man is the new Master “De-bator”…

    Ken Lawson….thank goodness RT doesn’t write about the RCGA more…

  • Yes, originally part of the land that now covers Mount Bruno WAS cow pasture. So what? The Old Course at St Andrews used to be sheep pasture… Be proud of your origins Bruno!

    Mt Bruno CC is recognized around the golfing world as one of Willie Park’s (Jr) greatest achievements; sorry “Da Man”, but many disagree with your pastoral comment. And please work on your cyber manners.

  • […]belive me Time Theif this has nothing to do with an “actual” horse, or climb on Mt. Everest, this is metaphore for exactly what the tags say. YOU have to read deeper to understand[…]

  • Given the fact that my home course was host to a quebec amateur tournament, I was invited to play St Bruno.

    The course was in exceptional condition, and given the amount of rain this summer the fairways and bunkers were surprisingly dry.The drainage system must be exceptional.

    The key to this course are its greens which are one of the most pisteen and interesting i have played on in years. they are fast and true with subtle breaks and undulations.

    the course is kept in emaculate condition.

    The staff are helpful professional and go out of their way to assist in your stay

    kudos to the members of St Bruno for their outstanding facilities

    joel weitzman

    • …I live in St-Bruno, a few meters away from it and I’m always really impressed by this golf course: it is always so impeccable. Unfortunatly, I am not a good player and, even worst, I never had the chance to by invited to play at the St-Bruno CC. Therefore, Mr.Weitzman (or anyone else ;), I would be delited to exibit my poor habilities and replace it by some knowlege about the history of the golf course itself if you’ld have an invitation to spare… At last, I can’t help it but to agree with the majority here: Mister Da Man should use better web manners and could certainly decide to revise his very limited perspective about this great golf course…

  • Dans le cadre de compétition interclub nous avons eu notre pratique et incroyable comment nous avons bien été reçu par le personnel et aussi la gentillesse des membres présents.
    Parcours très bien entretenu et la conception de celui-ci offre de grands défis sur chacun des trous.
    Ambiance très décontracté.
    Nous allons compétitionner dimanche le 15 juillet et nous sommes assuré d’avoir une saine compétition et une journée très agréable.
    Comme mon récent séjour à St-Andrews Old Course c’est un grand privilège que d’avoir pu jouer ces deux parcours.

    Félicitations à tous et toutes!!!

    Yves

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