Course Review: Greystone Golf Club (Milton, Ont.)
Designer: Doug Carrick (1991)
The Scorecard: Greystone will always be a bit of a polarizing course. Some will see its long vistas and significant elevation changes and come away with the impression that this is one of Doug Carrick’s best. Others will see it as a bit over-shaped considering the natural landscape and be maddened by its greens.
I’m somewhere in between. I think Greystone is not among Carrick’s best. I find it slightly over-shaped, with areas of land graded into small rolls that often appear unnatural, and though the greens can be confounding, that’s some of the course’s charm. Overall it isn’t as strong as Carrick’s later work at Osprey Valley, Eagles Nest and Humber Valley. Copper Creek is a better version of this – right down to the shaping.
Birdies: There are a couple of standout holes, but they are scattered over the routing. The course starts out sort of plainly with a short par 5 – never an ideal opener – and then comes to one of the blandest holes on the course – a flat par 3. It gets better from there, including the terrific par 5 fourth, which then plays into one of the most intriguing parts of the property. The golf course is very solid through the rather plain 9th, and doesn’t truly pick up until the short 15th, a drivable par 4 that is among Carrick’s best efforts. The 16th with its large drop off the tee is fun, and though the course doesn’t end that strongly, the conclusion is still better than the start.
Bogeys: A weak start doesn’t help, and there’s a strange mix of holes – with flattish holes opening the course and the back nine. Carrick also offers two decidedly similar holes – the mid-length uphill 12th and the downhill 13th. One can’t help but feel that there are also too many bunkers on several holes, almost always set to the left side (see the 6th and the 17th.) It makes the course feel awfully busy in places where a little restraint would have benefited in making the course feel a bit more natural. I’d argue that Carrick’s best work is more restrained when it comes to bunkering, with fewer bolder bunkers replacing the multitudes used at Greystone. Though it has nothing to do with the design, the range at Greystone is irksome. Who wants to hit balls into a hillside?
The Final Tally: Like King Valley, the course that led directly to the development of this course, Greystone feels slightly aged and hard to love. Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing badly designed on the course, no clunker hole that is so off-putting that you want to stay away. But given the fact the elevation changes make it a difficult walk (though not as bad as I expected, and I walked all 18 on a warm day), and the lack of a truly great hole or two, I see Greystone as a better-than-average private course, with below-average practice facilities. The clubhouse is still lovely with a nice patio.