Review: Weston Golf and CC (Willie Park, 1915: Toronto)
An old school Willie Park Jr. course, Weston has always had history on its side. First it started with one of the most fabled designers in golf’s history and was witness to Arnold Palmer’s first win on the tour – the Canadian Open. Somehow Weston fell a bit off the radar in the first few years of the new millennium, perhaps because like Scarboro G&CC, a course with which is compares favourably, the Park design is bordered by an urban landscape that isn’t always appealing. However a bunker restoration really brought the course back to life, and Weston is one of the more charming, interesting and intriguing Golden Age courses in Toronto.
• Long and shot. There are great two-shot holes at Weston, including the 9th and 18th, which are long, tough and charming. The 18th is especially great, with its on-grade green that falls towards the back. Similarly, there are some very cool shorter fours, like the 6th, which reminds me of the current 7th hole at Summit, in that the tee shot must deal with some smart angled bunkers.
• Greens. There are some staggeringly cool greens that just utilize pitch as their defence. Take, for instance, the 5th hole, a long par four over a ravine to a green that runs hard from the back right to the front left. Being above the pin is death, but since the hole is so challenging and you are likely to be approaching with a mid-iron (at least), it is difficult to stay below the flag.
• Bunkers. For years Weston’s bunkers were unobtrusive and dull. Now they are smart, bold and force you to flirt carefully with them. This was a big improvement for the club.
• Can’t say I’m crazy about the second hole. Like first and 10th at Lookout Point, which I recently played, the second hole at Weston drops steeply into
a valley. The setting is quirky and wonderful, with the railway trestle in the background. However, the current tee blocks out any shot hit short of the 100-yard mark. It is too bad – it should be a cool tee shot and ends with a fine green, though I wonder if the risk of going for the putting surface off the drive, especially with the pond off the right side, ever makes sense on your scorecard.
• Start of the back nine. The 10th is a short four with an interesting green, but the tee shot is not adventurous and the 11th, a long, relatively bland one-shot hole is likely my least favourite on the course. In fact, I’d say none of the course’s par threes standout, though only the 11th could be called dull. I do have some affection for the 8th, a short hole that requires nothing more than an exacting wedge and plays to a green that funnels to the front left.
The Final Tally
I like Weston a great deal, and think it stands alongside Scarboro G&CC and Summit as the city’s more overlooked courses. To me it is a classic, old-time experience, but the meaty par fours have kept it relevant to today’s game, and the greens are the great equalizer. The practice facilities are slight, but the clubhouse and the pro shop are perfectly located surrounding the first tee. The mix of holes are what makes Weston standout and the need for strategy means one would rarely become bored over time. Weston is ranked #40 in Canada by ScoreGolf and that likely isn’t too far off where it should be.