Rosedale Golf Club (Toronto – 1919)
Designer: Donald Ross (and various including Bob Cupp, Doug Carrick and John Fought)
Rosedale is like a debutante heading towards a graduate degree. In other words it is known more for being the haunt of Toronto’s blue bloods, an elite, inner-city course that obscures its urban surroundings. But this isn’t just a plaything of the rich and famous – it is also a fine golf course, one that doesn’t likely get its due because many dismiss it as simply another club where exclusivity overshadows the fact the course is marginal. Not the case at Rosedale where the golf course is outstanding, easily one of the most overlooked in Canada. Built on a tumbling piece of property where a creek winds through a significant amount of the land, Rosedale offers a classic city course with elevation that one would not expect. And you almost never see the city, unlike courses like Scarboro, St. George’s or Weston, which simply can’t obscure their surroundings. Very cool – and very underrated.
- Par fours – Rosedale is full of great fours (the first demonstrates that, but the third, with its raised green, is terrific, as is the short 9th, and the long 11th.) I am very partial to the stretch near the end of the course – the 14th, 15th, and 17th – which really are the teeth of Rosedale. All three are also different, with the 14th rising up the slope and tumbling down to the green (one of the best green sites on the course, in my opinion), while the 15th is shorter and allows for an easier approach. The 17th, with its plateau green and downhill tee shot, is clearly a standout.
- The land really suits the two-shot hole, with the creek wandering into play on the front nine and the hills taking over the back. But at its heart, Rosedale has a smart, sophisticated routing that really links the various elements and uses all of the elevation change to really mix up the feel of the course. Some classics have one-dimensional elements, that can’t be said for Rosedale.
- John Fought’s restoration finally (finally!!) brought unity to a golf course that was a mixed bag of the styles and ideas of a half-dozen different designers. I don’t know what period Ross he was trying to emulate, but the work is straight forward and consistent.
- The 18th hole remains a mixed bag at Rosedale, with the green being rebuilt several times. Now you hit up the valley to a bowled fairway – and the rebuilt green is solid, if unspectacular.
- I really like the 16th hole, finding it a cool little par three, but the others – especially the two on the front — feel very similar, both with downhill tee shots to greens set near hillsides. Neither have remarkable green sites. I can’t say that they were clear misses either – they just don’t stand out like some of the longer holes.
The final tally:
Rosedale deserves more respect than it gets. The course is smartly routed, easily walked, with a variation of holes and unique strategies throughout. I suspect it isn’t more highly considered because many never see it – though it is located just off of Yonge St. Big on fun, and though it isn’t long by today’s standards, there are still plenty of par fours that can engage even big hitters. A tough invite by any standard, but one worth seeking out. A classic in every sense.