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Course Review: The Club at North Halton

The par five 16th at the Club at North Halton -- certainly the most dramatic tee shot on the course.

Course: The Club at North Halton (Georgetown, Ont.)
Designer: George Cumming, Bob Moote, Rene Muylaert

The scorecard: North Halton is often discussed for all the wrong reasons. Insiders talk about the difficulty the club, which is located 45 minutes north of Toronto, has had in renovating its clubhouse, or gossip about supposed financial issues. I have no idea whether any of this is true – I’ve been hearing it for years and yet North Halton is still there, vibrant, with a busy membership the day I teed it up.
Yes, the range is middling, and the clubhouse isn’t exactly attractive. However, the course is better than most give it credit for, an old-world design that wanders through an intriguing valley that yields numerous strong golf holes. Even the holes that could be deemed plain – like the first three on the front side – aren’t without merit, and all offer different challenges and concepts. North Halton lacks those great holes that could set it apart, but frankly it isn’t that far removed from many courses considered its superior, places like Maple Downs, or Thornhill, and it is better than almost all of Clublink’s Toronto offerings (Glen Abbey aside).
North Halton isn’t a big-time private club – and the course reflects the low key approach. I consider that a positive, though some might see it otherwise.

The terrific par four fifth hole is one of the standouts at North Halton.

Birdies:
– After the fourth hole, upon which the course plunges into a valley, North Halton has a lot to offer. The fifth hole is a smart, difficult par four and it is followed by the best hole on the course – the long, tricky par four sixth. With its elevated green, the sixth plays longer than most of the par fives on the course, and its sloping green isn’t going to allow many pars for those missing to the right.
– The finish. The conclusion, starting on the devilish par four 14th, is very strong and engaging. I was particularly taken by the 18th, with its speed slope on the left side of the fairway propelling balls back to the middle. If used properly, a lot of yardage can be picked up, making a 544-yard hole quite reachable.

The strange 11th hole should be one of the best at North Halton. But poor bunkering and an odd tee shot make it far from compelling.

Bogeys:
– Interesting that both the back and front nine start weakly. The front opens with a mid-length par five followed by a drivable (and slightly dangerous) par four. The back opens with a dogleg right par four up a hill and then an awkward par four that falls into the valley (with some truly horrible bunkering in the landing area). Together they represent some of the weakest holes in the course.
– The architecture never matches the land on which the course is built. The bunkers are plain and not particularly strategic. The greens don’t always tie in with the shot values presented by the course. If the design matched the routing and holes, it would be a stronger course.

– With the exception of the 17th, which I found to be a solid one-shot hole to an interesting uphill green, none of the par threes are North Halton are standouts. And they are all relatively comparable in yardage – there’s no ball-busting big three here, but nothing short enough to offer an all-or-nothing opportunity either.

Final Tally: Where North Halton is good – for the second half of the front nine and for much of the back nine – it is solid, lay-of-the-land golf. It might not overwhelm and with the exception of the 5th and 16th hole, there is not a lot of wow factor at the course. But that’s fine. Easily walkable, with land that has enough interesting features to make the course come alive, and with a decidedly solid series of two-shot holes, North Halton is one of those designs that may not titillate the eyes, but will continue to amuse and entertain players time and again. However, unless some money was invested in the design, ridding it of some awful bunkers and reconsidering the design, it’ll never be considered among the elite in Ontario.

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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.

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Interesting. While working on an improvement plan for The Oakville Golf Club (also originally designed by Geo. Cumming) over the past few years, I’ve heard about North Halton on a few occasions – it’s just up the road from Oakville. I’ve never been to North Halton, but your review makes me want to visit next time I’m up that way. It’s always interesting to learn about courses that aren’t talked about with the country’s best, but show some good potential. Thanks, Rob.

  • And it’s “better than almost all of Clublink’s Toronto offerings (Glen Abbey aside)”

    Your assessments are very trivial, to say the least. North Halton is a pitch ‘n putt course……not even close in quality/routing to most Clublink courses.

    Maybe you don’t review them in a positive manner because CL doesn’t pander to you (and Weeeeeeeeksy) like various Maritime (and now, BC) golf courses do.

    They always get a great review from both of you….maybe because they pay for you to go there!!

    Contra waggles the tail of your reviews…(unless Ian Andrews had something to do with the project)

  • You say “North halton is a pitch and putt,” and then comment that my remarks are trivial?

    Hmmmm…..

    And it is Andrew, not Andrews. If you are going to insult me, at least get the insult correct.

  • Pitch and putt isn’t trivial…It’s MY impression of the course. Maybe we play a different game of golf

    Sorry about the ‘s’ on Andrew but you’re not so grammatically correct yourself…

    I’m sure you meant ‘my remarks’ not ‘may remarks’…Tsk, Tsk!!!

  • Thank you Robert for reviewing this course. Any truth to the rumour it boasts the lowest handicappers of any private club in the country?

  • Well, I am not sure it is a pitch and putt, but I am pretty sure it is not the 6450 the scorecard says either. A strong and straight player could conceivably have wedge in on every par 4 and 5 except possibly #6.

    However the piece of land is superb. Personally I don’t think there is anything wrong with the bunkering, especially on #11 which imo is one the courses better holes. There is no lack of interest or repetition on this course. Not as difficult as CL courses, but a lot more interesting.

    It is a course all the members will tell you, that you do not get sick of playing. The course has been softened gradually the last few years and I think most members like that as there is a very strong contingent of good golfers who can consistently break 80 there, and they enjoy that.

    Best Tips: Over the trees on #1, don’t play Reg the Wedge for $.

  • I think I’ve played almost every club link course, and most high end courses (St. Georges, the National, Banff Springs etc.) This course totally stands up to them all, and I like some of the Club Link courses, like King Valley. Your comments about the par 3’s is valid, however they do vary in elevation if not length. I also agree with you observations about #18, an excellent finishing hole, that will easily determine competitive outcomes.
    Like one of the other commentators I’m not sure I understand the concern about the bunkers being incorrectly placed. The trap on 11 seems to me to be in the right place. I also like that the first three holes are not signature, as they get you warmed up for whats to come. The financial grumblings go back several years to a time when the club went equity. I don’t think that’s an issue now, membership is actually growing, and some refurbishing has been done to the clubhouse. It’s still not grand, and like you I view that as a positive.
    Great staff, wonderful place to hang out, and solid track. Favourtie hole, #14.

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