Architects: Tom and George Fazio
The National is clearly one of Canada’s great golf courses, with an ingenious routing, difficult greens and remarkable conditioning.
First opened in 1976, it was one of the first courses Tom Fazio had the lead on, though his uncle’s involvement in this one is clear.
I’ve played the National a number of times now. At first it is intimidating — especially with its slope rating nearing 150. Everyone talks about the difficulty of the National, so it surely must be the case?
Now, after half a dozen trips around, I find the National fair and punishing.
It opens easily enough — the first two holes are long, but straight-forward par fours. The third hole, a difficult par five, is indicative of much of the course. Hit the ball in the fairway, missing the left bunker and willows and the creek on the right, and you’ll have a pretty good shot at par, if not birdie. Miss the fairway, though, and you will not find the green.
That’s largely the story at the National — good drives and strong putting will compensate for a few errors. The greens, however, will punish the player who must scramble much of the round.
There have been numerous changes at the National over the past year — including moving bunkers on the fifth hole, and building new tees all over the course. The aim is to make sure the course keeps its reputation, even if these new tees are hardly ever used by the existing membership.