Notable Holes – #4 Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course

The 4th hole at Smuggler's Glen Golf Course (Photo: Scott MacLeod)

When I ask non-Canadian friends to tell me what their image of our country is, they all seem to agree. They picture land marked by generous helpings of rocky outcroppings, clear, cool water, and dense forests. Golf, they assume, will fit right into those settings

If I was to bring them to the Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course near Gananoque, Ontario, all their speculation would be realized.

Throughout the 300 acres that the course covers, their eighteen fairways work their way through significant land forms. At some courses that may be prominent on one or two holes, but at this Boyd Barr design, it is the norm.

As a result, when it comes to choosing a notable on the course, a survey of those familiar with the property will always return a myriad of answers.

In the sixteen years since the course opened, my own answer has changed many times. For this mention I’ll focus on one that grabs people’s attention early in the round.

The 4th hole, called Bio Challenge, presents a puzzle like few seen in Eastern Ontario.

The par five can be played from as little as 352-yards from the forward, green tees, but it is at the back tees, at 501 yards, where it likely has the greatest emotional impact.

Risk – Reward

When golfer’s discuss the definition of a risk-reward hole, you might as well start with this one.

From a very elevated tee it feels like you can drive the ball forever, and you get some generous assistance, but a visit to the fairway is critical first step in any successful traverse.

Once you reach that fairway, then the decisions begin, ones that test your combination of skill and determination. One club pro once remarked to me that the perfect way to the play the hole is a driver, putter, and then a wedge for the third shot. The more I thought about it the more I realized it was a viable option.

On the second shot you can choose to stay on one side of a environmentally sensitive area that snakes through the latter half of the course,. To do so though, either requires a very short lay-up or a daring advance across a rock outcropping to a small bit of fairway.

That would leave a short pitch to the full width of the green but your yardage control must be exact as there is not much depth to work with from there.

More commonly for the second shot, players will choose to take on the creek in pursuit of a larger neck of fairway from where you can look directly down the narrow green.

The daring will put a long iron in hand or even a small fairway club, in a effort to reach the putting surface in two shots and chase the potential of an eagle. Many of these pursuits result in high numbers on the scorecard, extra disappointing when the hole seems so “gettable”.

One only has to look at the scoring during a visit by the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada in 2012. The top pros that week in The Great Waterway Classic were baffled by the hole at times. One player noted at the close of the tournament, “I’ve played that hole six times this week and I’m still not sure how to play it.”

However you choose to play the #4 hole at Smuggler’s Glen, like it did for the pros, and does for thousands of visiting golfers each year, it will leave an impression.

Even if you don’t manage a good score, you’ll most likely be rewarded with a story that you can tell at the 19th hole afterward.



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