Monday, 25 March 2013

Westmount G&CC - less is more...

Four men playing golf, Westmount Golf and Coun...
Four men playing golf, Westmount Golf and Country Club (Photo: Special Collections, Waterloo Library)
I like exploring courses mentioned in dispatches by people in or around professional golf, so I made a mental note when Ray Floyd mentioned Ontario course Westmount Golf and Country Club ("That was a nice golf course") in this interview with Lorne Rubenstein, particularly with the latter adding his own wish that the Canadian Open might one day be held there.

It's a Stanley Thompson design (with contributions from Robbie Robinson and Thomas McBroom) and Floyd and Rubenstein aren't the only ones who loudly sing its praises. Yet what strikes me from looking at the clear aerial photo here is how ordinary it looks. Robert Thompson's photographs clarify the appeal of some holes but even then, I can only scratch my head at his claim that, "the run of 13 through 17 is among the best stretch of golf in Canada, with the 15th and 16th holes rivaling the best par fours anywhere".

By way of contrast (in more ways than one) I recently had cause to look at the Tom Watson design at Florida's The Conservatory Course. Now, here, I can see from the diagram on virtually every hole what the architect was getting at.

Am I saying that Stanley Thompson is overrated and Lorne Rubenstein and Robert Thompson are letting national pride get the better of them? Not a bit of it. Perplexing though I found it at first, Westmount's ostensibly plain simplicity hints at one of the most pleasant aspects of a rewarding golf course. Subtlety.

Looking at plans won't show its hand. Nor will playing it once. It must be played several times before you see what all the fuss is about. That is often the way with links golf, so inland tracks displaying the same characteristic are in good company.

As much as I like The Conservatory, Westmount would be the one I'd like to play first because that's the one I don't 'get'. And that, I now realise, is part of its charm.

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