The annual Telus Skins Game is a well-established summer golf event in Canada which is broadcast worldwide on television. A not very well known fact is that the skins series started in 1993 at Devil’s Pulpit, three years after the course opened. It will probably come as no surprise to learn that the well known “skins shark”, Freddie Couples, pocketed most of the pot, $210,00 by winning 14 skins. Ray Floyd picked up $50,000 for 3 skins; Jack Nicklaus collected a measly $10,000 for one skin but Nick Price walked away empty handed!
The inventors of the “Trivial Pursuit” board game, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, created Devil’s Pulpit in 1990 and the name of the course comes from a rock formation seen from the 7th tee. Haney and Abbott constructed another 18-hole course, Devil’s Paintbrush, two years later so members of the private Devil’s Pulpit Golf Association are in the fortunate position of having two top class, contrasting, courses to play.
The golf architects, Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry fashioned a track that defines everything that is exciting in modern golf course design when they created this par 71, 7162-yard “earth sculpture”. The landscape on the Niagara escarpment, though spectacular, was deficient to such an extent that 1.7 million cubic yards of soil was shifted in the shaping of the course. It may have been costly to build by bulldozer but the payback is that everything is in clear view as the round is played.
Three hundred thousand cubic yards of the aforesaid earth movement occurred at the first hole alone and then a pond was built on the hillside to create a signature hole of epic proportions. The club describes the 478-yard, par four 1st as; “the most spectacular opening golf hole in the world. Period.” Course architect Michael Hurdzan also seems to like the 1st. “All the great courses in the world… start with pussy-cat holes. But Devil’s Pulpit starts with a lion.”
The opener is named “Tower” as the line off the elevated tee is the CN Tower in Toronto 35 miles away! A regular drive requires a carry of more than 200 yards, dropping more than 50 feet to a wide, contoured fairway. Alternatively, the tee shot can be played to another narrow fairway to the right which has a lake further to the right again. Either way, it is one of the best driving holes in Canada!