Course designer: Stanley Thompson (alterations by David Moote)
Dundas Valley is one of the more over-looked designs of Stanley Thompson’s career. Perhaps it is because there wasn’t a lot of detail work in the initial design – the club has few bunkers and none of the elaborate green complexes you find on other creations by the Canadian genius.
But don’t let that take away from the fact the course is on a terrific piece of rolling land, full of interesting hills and valleys, and the use of the natural landscape is exceptional, right from the start.
Though it’ll never rank with Thompson’s best work, it is solidly in the second-tier of his designs, comparable to Thornhill, Islington, London Highlands and others, many of which would have been created early in the designer’s career.
- Topography. The land at Dundas Valley rolls and plunges, diving into valleys and up over hills. It makes for some interesting tee shots (take the first and third holes, for example) and elevated tee shots are commonplace.
- The quirky bits of Dundas Valley are really endearing, or at least intriguing in an old-fashioned way. Take the fifth hole, where a ridgeline extends into the fairway before the green, or the 7th hole, which plunges downhill. Neat holes that warrant consideration.
- I like David Moote’s re-do of the 12th green, though it seems incongruous without the remaining bunkers also getting a facelift.
- This isn’t Thompson’s best selection of par threes. The second hole is fine, but comes too early in the round, and the fourth is just a long, plain slog uphill, which is also the case with the 9th. The 17th is stronger, and the greensite has character, even if the holes is jammed next to housing.
- Land (or lack of it). Dundas is really tight, with several holes playing into one another (5 tee shot is close to 7 and 8, for example), while the 15th is a neat drop shot par three, but feel hemmed into the corner of the property.
- Consistency. Dundas Valley decided to reinvest in its clubhouse, which was likely a good idea. But its course needs a consistent approach to bunkering that brings the various elements into one holistic aesthetic. It feels like a mix of styles now.
The Final Tally:
It may be a minor work in Thompson’s overall portfolio, but I really enjoy Dundas Valley – and it could easily be made a step better. It needs a plan that brings the various elements in line with Thompson’s conception for golf. That may require some historical revisionism – imagining what Thompson would have done with the course if he had a bigger budget, like he did with Banff, St. George’s and Kawartha. Dundas Valley should garner more recognition and with a facelift it might just get it. In the meantime it is a strong and interesting course that is a joy to walk and a pleasure to play.