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Course Review: Heron Point Golf Links — McBroom's Best?

RT’s Note: In the past I’ve always done my course reviews as essays. This season I’m going to try to put more of a structure to them. This is the first of several upcoming, including Summit, Devil’s Pulpit, Oshawa, and Greystone, while later in the month I’ll write about Bell Bay, Le Portage and get a full look at Cabot Links.

The closing hole at Heron Point.

Course Review: Heron Point Golf Links (Alberton, Ont.)
Designer: Thomas McBroom (1991)

The Scorecard:  I’d always though the site where Heron Point was built was ideal, at least until I spoke to Tom McBroom about it. The designer said while the site’s contours were great for golf, it was a mess of rubbish and garbage. I guess it didn’t really matter because McBroom crafted what is his best course outside of Tobiano and Oviinbyrd on a fine piece of rolling ground. Though it might be a little too shaped in places – especially around greens and in some of the areas where the fairways run into the rough – it is a course that has held up well over its history. It was also in exceptional condition when I played in June, 2011, something that has been consistent on each of my four visits over the years. Easily walked with some fascinating holes on great ground, Heron ranks among the best in Ontario without question.

Birdies:

The ninth -- outstanding holes close both nines at Heron Point.

• The par-3s are exceptional, even the third hole that is a classic connector.
• It might appear to some that McBroom routed around the 9th and 18th hole, two par 4s with tee shots over expanses of water. That might be the case, but it works, and unlike say Granite Golf Club, the two closing holes of each nine are decidedly different, with one green site located in a bowl and the 18th raised up on a hillside.

Bogeys:
• Can’t say I was crazy about the greens, many of which feature a relatively unnatural tier that separates

Heron Point's Opener

one section from the other. Within the tiers the greens were fine – certainly not wild like some of McBroom’s early work.
• The par 5 12th hole is awkward all away around, and feels constricted perhaps due to a routing or land issue.
• The first and 10th holes have a certain similarity, and the opener, set hard against the range, feels in the firing line. However, it has an exceptional approach shot and intriguing green location.

The Final Tally:

Overall, Heron is among McBroom’s best work. Sure the greens are a bit repetitive and not as subtle as where McBroom would head later in his career, but the property is outstanding and there are some great green sites. Unlike many of ClubLink’s courses, this one feels like a real private club, right down to the smallish clubhouse and understated facilities. Though it used to be the ugly duckling in ClubLink’s group of courses given its western location, it is surely the best of the corporate golf giants facilities surrounding Hamilton and Oakville. Yep, that means it is more fun than Greystone and has a better selection of holes than Glen Abbey. 

Score: A

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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.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Good course, certainly one of the better Clublink courses, but 3rd best McBroom is a stretch imo. I’d put Rocky Crest, Ridge at Manitou, Lora Bay, Wildfire, and maybe Lake Joe ahead of HP. Crowbush and Deer Ridge are in the same ballpark…

  • I’ve been saying this for a long time.

    Glad you had the chance to play it recently and recall just how good a McBroom design it is.

  • Favourite ClubLink course by far.

    Personally I think it should run 10-18, then 1-9. The teeth of the course are the 1-5th holes and the 9th is very tough. 18 looks intimidating but even from that back tee it’s only 230 to the fairway. The back nine is a vacation compared to the front. I think CanTour Masters used to run it back-front, but I’m not sure.

    If I had to play one GTA course every day forever, this would be it. It’s fun, tough, and never really gets boring. Another classic ‘if it were closer to Toronto it would rank XXth in Canada’ course. Strangely it used to be top 40 in the country…but has been bumped all the way down to the bottom of the list (if it’s even still on it). The only real change over the past 10 years is the loss of a signature tree beside the 12th green…it’s replacement being a ridiculously forced trio of saplings that are now 20 feet tall and block half the green even for those in the fairway at 110 yards. Fortunately we can’t blame McBroom for that. I think those three should be dug up.

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