Hamilton Golf & Country Club, or Ancaster as it is known locally, is located on land which once known as Grange Farm and it is set most beautifully in elegant, heavily wooded seclusion.
There are three loops of nine holes at Hamilton, called South, West and East and the championship layout comprises of the West (front nine) and South (back nine). Although Hamilton’s club history can be traced back to 1894, the West and South were designed as two nine-hole courses by Harry S. Colt and both loops formally opened for play in 1916. Robbie Robinson added the East nine in 1975. According to his website, Rees Jones was involved in a 1982 redesign here at Hamilton, but we don't know precisely what was implemented.
Hamilton first hosted the Canadian Open in 1919 and Atlanta’s Douglas Edgar posted a course record score of 66 on his way to winning the title, pushing Bobby Jones into second place (the 1919 event was Bobby's first and last Canadian Open). When the Canadian Open returned to Hamilton in 1930, Tommy Armour shot a six-under-par 64 to set another course record which stood until 1991 when Warren Sye, posted an amazing 62 on his way to claim the Ontario Men's Amateur Championship.
Bob Tway won the 2003 Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club and Jim Furyk won the 2006 title after England’s Justin Rose fell away in the final round. America's Scott Piercy won the 2012 Canadian Open at Hamilton, beating fellow countrymen Robert Garrigus and William McGirt by a single shot.
It’s a crazy idea to think that Harry Colt made his way to Canada back in the day, but sure enough he graces a few courses over here. Hamilton Golf & Country Club is one of them.
Hamilton for me is an unlikely candidate for Colt although the landscape does slightly make one think of St. George’s Hill in England. The course plays out over a valley and up a fairly steep hill on the other side. It then works itself back and forth off this hill and around it with a series of holes playing from elevated tees down to fairways and back up to greens nestled in the hillside – a unique routing for Colt. It’s noteworthy that the original design has been significantly tinkered with. Unfortunately, not for the better with the addition of several un-Colt-like bunkers that don’t do the course justice given their modern style. There may have also been a few greens altered in the process. It’s a shame given Colt’s immense stature as one of the golf’s greats. One day I believe Hamilton will be led in the right direction to thoughtfully renovate and rejuvenate the wonderful bones that Colt presented them with.
There are several excellent holes here but the holes play away from and back up to the clubhouse were my favorites. 1, 9, 10 and 18 are all excellent holes playing up to greens after elevated heroic tee shots provided interesting challenges to start the holes.
The 18thplays up to a green set in a natural amphitheater perfect for tournament play.
The 18thgreen is even complete with its own rope tow helping pull you back up the steep slope to the club house. The first rope tow I’ve ever encountered in golf.
Despite the mentioned shortcomings Hamilton is a really fun course however, by far the best part of the day was the great company I had as I managed to finally connect with a friend from Canada for the round. It was a perfect setting for this.