Canoe Brook Country Club dates back to 1901, when its 18-hole North course was unveiled. The South course followed in 1924 and both layouts have since been renovated a number of times, most recently by Rees Jones.
New Jersey is blessed with a deep array of golf choices -- primarily on the private side and while I have always respected the qualities of the North Course at Canoe Brook I have always been bewildered when others have included the course among the top 10-15 layouts in the Garden State. The North is not an easy layout but the architectural qualities are often not especially noteworthy or certainly not of the high pedigree found with other courses in NJ.
The opening two holes are quite good -- a lengthy par-4 opener followed by a very good three-shot par-5 for all but the super longest. The rest of the nine is sufficient but never elicits raw emotions to elevate a golfer's interest. The inner half of holes is a bit better -- more consistent in its overall presentation. The closing trio of holes does make for a worthy conclusion. The par-4 16th is a first rate test -- the key being the tee shot's placement on the 431-yard hole. The 17th is a bit longer and no less of a test. The ending hole is a long par-5 of 600+ yards so without placement on the first two shots the probability of closing birdie can be hard to achieve.
The North and South Courses at Canoe Brook have been used on separate occasions for US Open sectional qualifying and given its 36-hole capabilities and easy location to access there's little doubt the course will do so again. However, New Jersey's standing in golf is considerable and for the North to be mentioned at the highest of levels the qualities of the design need to be much more engaging and worthy of sustained stimulation.
by M. James Ward