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Course Review: Laval Sur-le-lac (Green Course)

Laval Sur-le-lac (Green Course)

Designer: Willie Park Jr. (1917)

A grand finish for a grand club: The closer at Laval Sur-le-lac

There are a number of Willie Park courses across Canada, and interestingly all of them – Weston, Mount Bruno, Calgary G&CC, and Laval – are intriguing private courses that well represent the Golden Age of Golf Design in Canada.

Next year Laval sur-le-lac will garner some new attention when its Ian Andrew/Mike Weir-designed course opens for play.  It will deserve it – it could well be the best course in Quebec. However, it’ll overshadow Laval’s Park course, which though subtle, is a delight to play. Sure there are too many trees, and the club’s apparent love of cedars is mind boggling, but it overcomes that with a great mix of holes, a majestic finish and some terrific green sites. All of Park’s Canadian work is comparable and all of it is rock-solid. Laval’s Park course is probably Montreal’s version of Weston – a timeless classic worthy of repeated play and study.

 

This picturesque par four closes the front nine at Laval.

Birdies:

  • • There are some great green sites on what is basically a lay-of-the-land course starting with the first. The greens often have a fair amount of movement in them, making them tricky. The short fourth hole has a well-protected green, but it is the 10th, the conclusion of a short par five, that is perhaps the coolest, situated with a hard drop on the back. Very cool.
  • • Mix of holes. While not overly long, Laval has a mix of holes that keeps you interested. The first is a long five, while the second is a short four. That theme runs throughout the course. Even then there are some monsters out there – like the long sixth and 12th holes, both of which require a big drive and a deft iron. Park threw in a long three and some mid-length fours for variety.

 

The 14th hole with its truly strange hazard in front of the tee (half cut down).

 

Bogeys:

  • • The hedge. I’ve seen some strange things on golf courses – billboards, hotel signs, 110 degree doglegs, greens that were simply short of a clown’s mouth – but the hedge that runs in front of the 14th hole at Laval is right up there. To be clear the horrible hedge makes an otherwise attractive hole and smears it with a drunken application of lipstick. There’s debate in the club about whether to cut it down – which is fascinating because I’ve rarely seen such an egregious feature on a course. Man the chainsaws!
  • • Cedars have no place on a golf course. But they are all over Laval, though the course has started cutting down some of them. Cedars don’t allow for recovery – unlike most other trees. The concept at Laval was to add isolation to each of the holes. That worked in some places – there are a wall of cedars in some areas of the course. Unfortunately it worked in some places and there’s no doubt Laval would be a better and more interesting course with all the cedars

 

Adding it up:

Laval is a great club with a very solid classic golf course. It’ll never be ranked among the best in Canada – and it may lack a couple of holes that would elevate the course into the next league. But as a sum of its parts, Laval sits together really nicely. With some trees removed and some areas opened up, it might be held in higher esteem than it currently is – but Laval is a pretty exclusive French club and something tells me the club is pretty happy with its current standing.

 

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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

  • Well, Robert? When will I, or a host of Canadian golfers, ever get to play it? If I were to call up Laval right now and say that I would pay their guest fees? Could I? Would they say, come on down?

  • No, it is private. If you are a member of another private club your pro could give you an introduction.

    Doesn’t mean it isn’t worth writing about.

  • No, does not mean at all that it is not worth writing about. The more information we have on our great golf courses, the better.
    But. If we – 95% of your followers- cannot play them, then what are we to do?
    Just read your description and try and absorb it and somehow say, OK, I can imagine it, that is enough for me?

  • That’s a fair remark. I’ll write about some public golf in coming weeks. I simply write about courses that interest me. It is my good fortune that it doesn’t usually matter to me — for access anyway — whether those courses are public or private.

    But you are right — it is a big deal for many readers who can’t readily access private courses and it is something I should more readily consider. Thanks for the heads up.

  • In contrast to the point THB made, your profiles of private clubs may be the closest I ever get. I enjoy seeing whats behind the gates…even if it is only on a blog…better than nothing. I say keep up the great blog, and profile any course worth profiling!

  • Robert, have to agree that the hazard in front of the 14th tee is somewhat “out of the ordinary”. Not sure what there would be to debate about removing it. Maybe the members could debate allowing it to grow and once as high as the trees next to them cut a large hole in the trees and have the players be forced to hit their tee ball through it.

  • Although I wouldn’t consider it a secret, I’ve used the approach of writing a letter to a member of a private club I would like to play and to date I have always received a call back and in most cases the member appeared to be flattered by my request. Now, it hasn’t always resulted in success (particularly with one extremely private club that shall remain nameless – but I did get a call back!) but if you really want to play these tracks and don’t have any connection that can get you on I’d highly recommend this strategy. Google “member of….”. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to find prospective members.

  • Yes, I do think that as SalesGuru says, a letter to a member of the club might well work! But I would not like to do that , speaking for myself. Another way to do it , possibly, as I have used successfully in the past, is to go through the pro or director of golf, at your own private or public course or courses. There is a network there which seems to be able to connect you with the club in question. As long as the host club can be assured that you are not going to use a wedge on their greens, are suitably attired, and generally are a golfer, you may receive a positive response. And, surprisingly, the greens fee you pay will not usually be outrageous for the quality of the course you are going to play!

  • ooo my god i work at laval you guy talking about the 14 hole we think its ugly too but member like it that way im on the course almost every day of the summer the staff can play golf if they want (i dont play golf)wanna see more picture??on facebook search for notre job the profile picture is a black and white cat …most of the pics ares funny but they also have pics of the construction of the blue enjoy!!

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