Blue Springs Golf Club (Acton, Ont.)
Designer: N/A – John Brison, who was involved in the Old Hide House in Acton seems to have had some involvement in creating Blue Springs, but it is tough to find documentation on that.
Overview: Does absence really make the heart grow fonder? Or do you look at things more critically? In the case of Acton’s Blue Springs, it had been 13 years by my count since I’d last tipped it up at this ClubLink course about 45 minutes outside of Toronto. When I was last there I’d just started writing seriously about golf, while also beginning my new gig at the National Post. I can’t claim I knew much about golf courses or design. In the ensuing years I’ve dug through dozens of books on golf design, had the good fortune to see many of the best courses in the world and practically everything critically acclaimed in Canada. I hope I’ve learned a thing or two about golf courses along the way. One thing is clear, my taste in courses is fully formed now, and it doesn’t include Blue Springs which in parts is good, but in others is haphazardly designed with a series of awkward holes.
- • It is hard to find any element of Blue Springs that stands out, but I’d say the more open holes are the strongest. The 6th, an uphill par four with a back-to-front green, used the property’s elevation well, creating a neat vista, and the 8th hole, a par four with a tee shot over a pond, was also quite strong.
- • The greens at Blue Springs were not overdone, which suggests little thought was put into them. Good thing – they actually work considering how busy the rest of the “design” is.
- • Trees. Right out of the gate there are too many trees at Blue Springs. The opener, a mid-length, downhill par four, feels like you’re hitting into a bowling alley, while the third, a short par four the turns hard to the right, feels like trees were planted to compensate for a bad design. Who plants cedars on a golf course? My favorite misstep was the second hole, a drop shot par three where the cart path is so close to the left of the green that a wall of cedars were planted to repel any shot that hit the pavement.
- • Routing. Blue Springs is full of doglegs, clearly compensating for the fact the routing was piss-poor. Many of the holes fight the land – with the grade of the property going one direction while the hole plays in the opposite – and the doglegs are forced into areas with limited land (see #3, #7, #9, #13, #16). This is why you hire a professional designer – they should get the routing right to avoid just these kinds of issues.
The final tally:
Blue Springs has some terrific land, even where it is routed between homes. However, the routing is lousy and leads to several failed holes. It isn’t much fun to play – and even with tree removal I’m not sure it would be much better. This is a prime example of a course that needs a do-over. Reworking holes (the 4th, for example, would be more interesting if played backwards, something I’d say for several holes on the course) could bring big benefits to Blue Springs. It isn’t all bad – and there are several strong holes. But overall it is ill-conceived and awkward.