Hamilton Golf & Country Club – The Big Attraction

-Host Course Adds Appeal for Players at 103rd Playing of RBC Canadian Open-

The 18th at Hamilton Golf & Country Club serves up a dramatic closing test of golf (Photo: Scott MacLeod)

(Ancaster, Ontario) – It’s no secret to Jim Furyk about what gets the best PGA Tour players into an event’s field.  Beyond the sponsor tie-ins (read: RBC in this case) and a decent amount of money to play for, the pros want a great golf course to play.  They have that this week in Ancaster, Ontario with the Hamilton Golf & Country Club.

“The strength of field is driven by golf courses first and foremost.  If I like the golf course, I’m going to play,” said the two-time RBC Canadian Open Champion

Furyk is not alone in his reverence for the H.S. Colt design that is continually ranked among the best in the nation.  While the championship will return to less popular ground in 2013 at Glen Abbey, for now players are enjoying the test that lays ahead for them this week.

Among them is Hunter Mahan, already a two-time winner on Tour this year and licking his chops after shooting 7 under par in the Wednesday Pro-Am.  Asked to explain his attraction to the course, Mahan commented, “Well, it’s a ball striker’s course.  You got to be able to hit fairways.  You got to be able to hit greens.  It’s not really a course you can attack from the rough, and you don’t want to be putting for par around here.  There are too many tough holes. “

Equally comfortable with the course is defending champion Sean O’Hair.  While normally a man of few words he was effusive in his praise of Hamilton on Wednesday.  “I think it’s great that we play courses like this.  I mean Shaughnessy was awesome, one of my favourite courses I’ve ever played, and this is one of my favourites as well.  It’s just a good, solid, old?school golf course that we don’t get to play places like this I don’t think very much.  And it’s fun to come to venues like this.”

Asked to compare the course to when he player here in the ’06 RBC Canadian Open, O’Hair says it should be a slightly less fearsome foe this time around.  “You know, in ’06 the golf course was playing a little tougher, a lot firmer.  The rough was a little bit more brutal.  The greens were a little firmer and a little quicker.  I played here Monday, and Monday as opposed to today is two totally different golf courses.  I mean the greens were a lot firmer, the fairways were a lot firmer today and they were a lot faster.  So I’d say as the week goes on, it’s going to get tougher, and you know, the conditions are hard enough as they are anyway, you know.  What I take from this golf course is its got premium on hitting fairways, premium on hitting greens.  Give yourself as many opportunities at birdie as you can, and you know, if you don’t putt like a blind man, you should be pretty good.”


Hamilton Golf & Country Club Facts

Founded – October 24, 1894

H.S Colt Design Opened June 1, 1916

5th time Hosting the RBC Canadian Open

Hole by Hole

West: 3,412 yards / South: 3,554 yards / Total: 6,966 yards/ Par 70

1st HOLE – 417 YARDS – PAR 4

A dogleg-left par-4 that shapes around a small valley and two deep fairway bunkers. With out-of-bounds down the right side, most players will play out to the right of the bunkers with a three-wood or hybrid to the widest landing area. Once in the fairway, hit a mid- to short iron approach to a relatively flat, albeit well-bunkered green.

2nd HOLE – 442 YARDS – PAR 4

A challenging tee shot for this dogleg-right par-4. A fairway bunker guards the right corner of the dogleg, where players will have a 295-yard carry to shorten this strong hole. It’s a very difficult fairway to hit with any kind of right-to-left movement off the tee. The pear-shaped green is well bunkered and tricky to read.

3rd HOLE – 408 YARDS – PAR 4

From an elevated tee, the hole falls to a two-tiered fairway and plays over Ancaster Creek. The bottom section, 255 yards out, is only 18 yards wide. The lay-up off the tee to the upper portion of the fairway is preferred. This leaves the player with 150 to 165 yards to an extremely well bunkered, elevated green cut into the side of a hill. The green slopes from back to front. Missing the putting surface makes for a difficult up and down.

4th HOLE – 542 YARDS – PAR 5

This straightforward par-5 can be reached in two, although the green is not terribly receptive to long shots. Players will have to avoid the trees that flank both sides, as well as the two fairway bunkers—one a 275-yard carry down the right side and the other a 320-yard carry down the left. Once in the fairway, a 250-yard approach is required. If errant off the tee, players will have to negotiate the cross-bunkers 90 yards from this well-bunkered, sloping green, which falls off to the right.

5th HOLE – 317 YARDS – PAR 4

A real risk-reward hole, No. 5 gives the gambler an opportunity to hit driver and go for the green. It’s an uphill, slight dogleg right with the green on a small plateau. Playing aggressively brings the deep bunkers into play, while laying up leaves a ball above or below your stance on this narrow, mounded fairway. The green offers many subtle breaks and is one of the course’s most difficult to putt.

6th HOLE – 224 YARDS – PAR 3

This is the first of four very strong par-3s. Surrounded by woods, it plays entirely across a valley to a slightly raised putting surface. Right of the green slopes severely down into the woods and lost-ball territory. Although it is relatively flat, the green is surrounded by bunkers.

7th HOLE – 412 YARDS – PAR 4

This uphill, dogleg-left par-4 is laced with bunkers down the left side and tree-lined to the right. The second shot plays to an elevated, three-tiered green 50 feet above the fairway. Deep bunkers await errant shots left and right, but the green is the true challenge. With three tiers you must find the correct location of the pin to have a realistic chance at making a putt.

8th HOLE – 210 YARDS – PAR 3

This secluded tee shot makes club selection difficult, as the carry is across a valley to an elevated green that slightly cants away from the tee, making it tough to hold. The putting surface is further protected by bunkers left and right.

9th HOLE – 440 YARDS – PAR 4

This straightaway hole usually plays downwind from an elevated tee to a narrow fairway that’s only 20 yards wide. The fairway slopes left to right, leaving many tee balls in the right rough. The approach is uphill to a green cut into the side of a hill. Bunkers to the right help define the hole. The green slopes from back to front and runs left to right. Past the hole leaves the player in a defensive position.

10th HOLE 392 YARDS – PAR 4

This elevated tee leads to a fairway 60-80 feet below that severely slopes left to right. There are trees and a bunker running up the left side and a hazard down the right. The second shot is to a well-bunkered, elevated green that breaks hard from back to front. A three-wood off the tee is recommended, since keeping the ball in the fairway is the first priority. From there, a wedge shot below the hole is in order. Any shot long makes for a difficult par save.

11th HOLE – 481 YARDS – PAR 4

This par-4 is a tough dogleg left from an elevated tee to the fairway 60 feet below. Large trees at the corner of the dogleg will prevent all but the longest hitters from taking the shortcut. A bunker at the corner of the dogleg on the right side provides a good target from the tee. The fairway then slopes uphill to a green that falls from back to front with a bunker to the right.

12th HOLE – 388 YARDS – PAR 4

This par-4 has a thick stand of trees running up the right side and a hazard up the left. The elevated tee plays downhill to a 22-yard-wide fairway that gently doglegs left. The approach is played uphill to a two-tiered green set in an amphitheatre and sloping hard from back to front.

13th HOLE – 236 YARDS – PAR 3

From an elevated tee, players hit over a small valley to an undulating, elevated green that runs from right to left and back to front. A false front makes this hole play to its true yardage. The putting surface is well bunkered and extremely fast when putting right to left. Coming up short on your tee ball could leave a 50-yard uphill second shot.

14th HOLE – 450 YARDS – PAR 4

This blind tee shot means players can’t see a large fairway bunker 295-300 yards out on the right side. From the middle of the fairway the second shot will be between 140-150 yards to a small, well-bunkered green that pitches balls to the back. Subtle breaks make this slick putting surface one of the course’s most difficult.

15th HOLE – 423 YARDS – PAR 4

This dogleg right features cross-bunkers that require a carry of between 270-285 yards. The second shot will be a short-iron to a two-tiered, well-bunkered green that has a plateau at the back right. Positioning the approach below the hole is the goal to making putts here.

16th HOLE – 188 YARDS – PAR 3

The shortest of the par-3s runs uphill to yet another green well protected by sand and pin positions that are hard to find. Choosing the right club is the challenge. The green sits into the hill and has a sharp falloff to the left that offers an unlikely up and down.

17th HOLE – 550 YARDS – PAR 5

This par-5 will provide plenty of birdie opportunities and even eagles to players who have an extra gear off the tee. It’s a straightforward hole from an elevated tee with trees guarding both sides of the fairway, as well as a large fairway bunker that runs down the left. The player who chooses to lay up for the second shot will have cross-bunkers 65 to 70 yards from the green to negotiate. Bunkers protect the putting surface, which slopes severely from back to front, making any shot above the hole difficult.

18th HOLE – 446 YARDS – PAR 4

This classic finale demands precise positioning off this elevated tee. Ancaster Creek snakes across the fairway 285 yards out, so a three-wood or hybrid is the prudent play. The approach shot climbs 175-200 yards uphill—often from a downhill lie—to a severely back-to-front sloping green set in a giant amphitheatre with bunkers on either side. One of golf’s greatest finishing holes!