That time I played the second-ranked golf course in Canada

Wow.

I found myself saying that frequently Thursday afternoon as I traversed the intriguing and intricate St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Etobicoke, Ont.

St. George’s has many accomplishments as a golf course, including playing host to the Canadian Open five times, most recently in 2010. That’s when Carl Pettersson won, thanks to shooting a course-record 60 during Saturday’s third round.

It’s a magical place. Dug through the valleys of West Toronto, this Stanley Thompson design debuted in 1929, and has been a staple on lists of the world’s best golf courses essentially ever since.

Some of it’s notable numbers: 2nd on SCOREGolf‘s biennial list of Canada’s Top 100 golf courses. 87th in the World, according to Golf Magazine. And 10th in the world outside the U.S. according to Golf Digest.

The reputation that proceeded the golf course was the first reason why I kept saying, “wow” upon arrival. The second (and third and fourth, etc.) was due to the topography, the layout, and just the overall fun that the golf course provided.

Never mind the picture perfect late-September weather, the course was in fabulous shape, thanks in large part to superintendent Keith Bartlett and his team.

Bartlett has been at St. George’s since 2007, and is intensely educated. He holds a B.Sc. in Agriculture from the University of Guelph and possesses a Certificate in Turf Management from Cornell University. He was thrilled with how the golf course was playing at this time of year, and who could disagree? It was pure.

From a golf course design perspective, the course has recently engaged Tom Doak and Ian Andrew as its official consulting architects. The hope is to upgrade most of the greens and perhaps do some bunker work. Those details have yet to be approved by the membership yet, but Doak and Andrew are on board if need be.

For a golf course that has hosted a PGA Tour event, it was actually very playable. Choosing the right tees was important – as it always is – but good shots were rewarded, and bad shots were punished.

The homes around the golf course are not a distraction at all, despite some backyards that flow right into the rough on the sides of some holes. In fact, I found they added to the charm of the place.

Head professional Tim Moore was equally thrilled with how the golf course was playing – less so of our games that day, but I digress. It was a challenge, and the terrain was also beautiful and inspiring.

Perhaps the Canadian Open will once again head to St. George’s. It’s likely, given the nature of the current rotation visiting old-style Canadian classics. It’s a little bit of a logistical challenge, but so be it. The golf course is worth it.

What a day. What a golf course. What a place.

Wow.

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